I'm a geek. I know it. I like DIY'ing things. I bought a 3d printer (which is sitting in my office not working right now)... and like building drones. I usually bite off more than I can chew and often have to go to others for help. This time around, it was to build a custom Midi foot controller to use with Ableton Live for our click/loop tracks.

I'm a worship leader for a church and we use Ableton Live to play our click tracks and backing tracks in our in ear monitors. As a guitar player I need a midi pedal to send midi commands to the software to play and stop a particular track.

I have a Keith MacMillen Softstep... but its really complicated to program, and the buttons are rubber. I never knew if the thing was ever pressed or not. I wanted the "click" of a regular guitar pedal. And I don't need something that complicated. There are some other pedals you can purchase... but their footprint wasn't correct for my pedal board. And I didn't want to spend another $300-$400.So for around $70 I built my own.

Using a similar method, one could also use a different library and use a foot pedal as a keyboard input device (to scroll a page, fire a video... whatever).

Step 1: Physical Construction

This is the beautiful part-- you can make it to fit whatever you want. You could buy a custom enclosure, or just an electrical box from the hardware store. Its up to you.

I used luan plywood and spent quite a bit of time in the woodshop to make this hoss. No doubt someone with better DIY skills, yeah verily a CNC machine, could make a real marvel.

Attached to this project is my google sketchup file.

Step 2: Electronics


You need momentary SPST switches. I got the "silent" ones so it doesn't sound like a firecracker going off in the middle of the worship service. Something like this:


I used an arduino teensy that I bought from sparkfun. It offers a couple of important things:

• It has USB connectivity

•It's powered via USB

•It supports a native MIDI control without need for some intermediary software.

•It has a ton of digital pins

LCD Display

I bought it HERE from sparkfun. I wanted a serial rather than parallel connection so I didn't have to chew up lots of extra pins. (pins= possible switches or leds, or connectors)


I suppose if I were really thorough I'd have some sort of fancy connection diagram. Basically,I hooked pin 1 up to the serial LCD pin. And then the switches have all the connections from there. You could in theory have 24 or so physical buttons/switches. Or if you were really good with programming could figure out a way to use multiple banks. But that's too complicated for me.

Step 3: CODE


This was the hard part.

Disclaimer:{ I AM NOT A PROGRAMMER;()} { I AM A GUITAR PLAYER. } take that into consideration when you see the code.

I first got it working with the MIDI buttons sketch. Then got the serial LCD sketch to work. As I'm not a programmer, I had to learn to combine the two together. The arduino code is attached to the project. Tweak the pins assignments to whatever you end up using.

<p>which kind of wires should I use in this project?</p>
<p>Did you use normally open (NO) or normally closed (NC) momentary switches?</p>
Hello can you send me the code ?<br>Thanks
<p>Hi, could you upload wiring sketch ? fritzing file ? Thanks</p>
<p>One more question 'bout the second version. how did You organized so many in\out for buttons &amp; LEDs? Used some kind of multiplexer? <br><br>Thx!</p>
<p>great thing especially for worship service purpose.<br>can You say is there any special commands for ableton live in midi (or somewhere) <br>1) to fire prev/next scene, <br>2) to choose pre/next scene <br>3) to fire chosen scene <br>4) to fire/stop particular track in chosen scene<br><br>Thank You!</p>
<p>yes all those should be able to be fired via a midi message. </p>
<p>upd: wanna constrict smh like </p><h3><a href="https://www.keithmcmillen.com/" rel="nofollow">Keith McMillen</a> 12 step, but lil bit cheaper and tweaked for my purposes</h3>
<p>cool project!</p><p>But why to send midi notes instead of program/control changes?</p>
I wonder that it can control another midi device. (Ada mp-1 or TC g-major)
<p>hi, can you put the electronic scheme, please?</p>
<p>Great job! I'd be fascinated to talk to you about this. I made a simpler version</p><p><a href="http://www.looping.me.uk/tech/arduino-midi-controller/" rel="nofollow">http://www.looping.me.uk/tech/arduino-midi-control...</a></p><p>but didn't know how to multiplex to add more buttons. Will look at the teensy baord, but would be good to get some tips?</p>
<p>Hi, excellent projetc, but did not understand how you connected the buttons and the teensy. Could illustrate? thanks</p>
<p>Hi. I want to construct it. Can I have a detail of button wiring? Do you use a resistor or not? Thank you.</p>
<p>No resistors. I think there are pulldown resistors on the teensy for each of the channels. </p>
<p>can i use an arduino uno? or mini? or nano?</p>
<p>You can use Arduino uno with hiduino firmware and some modifies in the sketch.</p>

About This Instructable




More by scottavey:Arduino Midi Foot Controller for Ableton Live 
Add instructable to: