Picture of Cigar Box MIDI Controller
Here's a DIY MIDI controller that can be used with Max/MSP, Ableton Live, and just about any other music software or hardware that offers MIDI I/O.

The project uses the MIDI CPU, which can be used as a MIDI "brain" for DIY projects.

This zip file includes the parts list (Open Office .ods), design drawings (Corel Draw .cdr & .png) and MIDI SysEx files (.txt and binary .syx) used in the project.

Step 1: Select a Cigar Box

Picture of Select a Cigar Box
Contact a local cigar shop and ask for empty boxes. The boxes may be available for free or for a small price.

Considering the following characteristics:

  • Overall shape . An ideal box has low height relative to the width and depth.
  • Build quality . Choose a box that is sturdy and looks nice.
  • Panel thickness. This can be important. Many panel-mount controls and connectors are designed for metal panels, which are relatively thin. A thick wood panel can make it difficult to mount the controls. Try to find a panel thickness of less than 6mm (1/4 inch).
The enclosure used for this howto is a Padron 3000 26-cigar box.

ipadmusic7 months ago

Wow! It is cool. Did you try to use it with iPad? I mean does this MIDI Cpu work with iPad via USB connector?

highly_liquid (author)  ipadmusic7 months ago
This iteration of the MIDI CPU does not directly support USB. However, a new version is coming soon that will work directly with an iPad over USB. Please go to midicpu.com to joing the mailing list. :-)