loading

Motivation:

Playing in a 2 piece band, with the drums and lots of other samples being played back as backing tracks, there was a need to use a looper to add in more elements to the tracks. A hardware based looper fails in this respect, since there is no way to maintain synchronisation. Meaning, slight discrepancies between triggering the start loop and end loop, even if it's ever so minute, will add up as the bars progress, and since there's no drummer to adapt to the loop, it will eventually run off time.

Thus, a software based looper is the way to go. Not just because you can maintain tempo based synchronisation on the DAW software that you're hosting the plugin, but also because most of these software loopers are free, and more functional than a hardware looper could ever be.

There are quite a few to choose from:

Since your arms are occupied with the daunting task of playing an instrument, you need to control the parameters of the looper through your foot. This is where the midi foot controller comes in. If you aren't familiar with what MIDI is, here an article.

Many midi controllers are available in the market, and the Beheringer FCB1010 is one of the most popular ones out there. But the perks of building you're own are:

  1. Cost: you can build one for 1/8th the cost of a commercially available one.
  2. Customization: You can build a controller as per your requirement. This controller has the specs that I want, your needs maybe different. This instructable is thorough enough to act as a guide for a generic midi controller, rather than being confined and limited to someone else's project.
  3. It's USB bus powered, there is no need for an external power supply.
  4. And the perk which is often ignored the most, it's fun ! You get to learn something new, and you'll have something to show for your efforts by the end of it.

The concept is quite simple and straightforward. You press a button, the arduino interprets the signal arriving from the button as a midi "control change" signal (typically represented as MIDI CC), and this signal can be mapped to respond to any of the parameters of the looper.

Step 1: Getting started..

This project can be done using any micro-controller based on the arduino architecture. I chose a Teensy 3.1. The reason for this has been elaborated in this article.

Hardware list:

  • Arduino
  • Momentary switches
  • 10k resistors
  • 1k potentiometer
  • Tapered LED
  • Resistors for LED
  • 2X16 LCD Display
  • USB Cable Micro-B
  • Breadboard (for prototyping)
  • Perforated board
  • Jumpers and wires

Software list:

Tools and misc:

  • Power drill
  • Jigsaw
  • Soldering iron, solder, flux
  • Scraps of plywood
  • Plate of Aluminium

Skills required:

WARNING: This tutorial involves the operation and usage of power tools, which when handled improperly, may lead to injury, and in ridiculously dumb circumstances, fatality. If you've never used power tools before, go to your neighborhood workshop and ask for assistance. If you are under 18, supervision is strictly required. I shall not be held accountable for any losses that a user of this instructable may sustain, either financial, physical or mental(??).

Basic electrical skills such as soldering, is required.

Coding skills are optional, you are provided the code. But it's advisable to have a background in C/C++ to be able to modify and change parts of the code according to your requirements. For anyone with a background in coding, Arduino programming is very simple and straightforward. Here's some material that can help you get started with arduino programming.

I'll split this tutorial into four parts:

1) Prototyping with a couple of inputs

2) Hardware build

3) Assembly, and basically putting it all together

4) Operation

Advertisement

Hi . Great tutorial. I have an old misi foot controller that wont pur out a MIDI signal. Therefore it has all the switches in place and i was hoping to for a teensy or arduino and LCD screen. My question is this, does the teensy/arduino put out a midi signal thatbi can use to control my FX processors? If not how would I get it to (if it's possible)?<br>I hope this is bot a stupid question but my expertise is in the fabrication but programming etc is not.<br>Thanks in advance. Ian
<p>Hey there, thanks you! </p><p>I'm not sure I understand why you would need a midi controller to control your FX pedal, since the FX pedal itself can be controlled by your foot. What is the need for an additional layer of indirection? Do you perhaps have an FX pedal without foot controls? </p><p>In either case, this is possible, but there is no easy way to do it. Let's explore:</p><p>You write you code for the midi controller in C Language, and your computer recognizes this as a midi controller. Fine and good. Your processor however might be coded in another language or might be using its own proprietary language. So it's difficult to know if they can inter-operate. Also, there is the question of connecting the devices in the first place. How would you connect your midi controller to your FX processor? Your processor might have a USB Out which can be used to connect to an output device (your computer). But your midi controller is an input device and FX processor won't recoginze it, even if you manage to connect them.</p><p>There is a situation where this may work. It depends on your processor. I have a Boss GT-10, and this has a software such that I can connect my processor to a computer, run the software and control my GT10 through the computer. In such a situation, you can connect your midi controller to the same computer, and control the software which inturn controls the processor. Sounds tricky! But I don't see a way around it.</p><p>Let me know if you've got any more questions!</p>
Hi, sorry but i dont think i explained very clearly. I was asking how easy it would be to integrate the teensy into the faulty foot controller (replacong the faulty parts) and have it send the MIDI signals to the rack FX etc. I have a Behreinger FCB1010 at the moment but find it limiting (and too big as i dont need the expression pedals (and had thought of cutting that end of the unit off!)). The faulty Nobels MF2 i have is a better size (and build) and is ready built with all the switches ( and expression pdal inputs should i need them later) my only (?) Job would be to integrate the teensy and code it. What is the limit of the amount of switches etc i could connect to the teensy- the MF2 has 12switches and 4 input sockets for expression pedals. I hope this is clearer. Ian
<p>Ahh, my bad! This makes more sense. Yes you can definitely integrate a Teensy to your faulty midicontroller. You can strip out all the circuitry and just leave the switches in place. I'm guessing these are SPDT switches, even DPDT's are fine. You need to use the ground and Normally Open terminals of the switch. You can follow the rest of the tutorial for everything else. The Teensy 3.1 has 33 digital pins, and hence can accommodate 33 switches! So you are covered. If you are ever using Expression pedal port, you need to connect those to the Teensy's analog pin, but hopefully you are not going to be doing that, this tutorial doesn't cover that. </p><p>Let me know if you've got any more questions!</p>
<p>hi, I'm trying to do it using teensy 2.0 but I can not match the pins. you have any suggestions? many thanks, bye</p>
<p>Hey there, sorry for the late reply!</p><p>It doesn't matter which Teensy you have, or which arduino based micro controller you have, for that matter. You just need to connect your components to dedicated digital pins on your micro controller. On the Teensy 3.1, all the pins that I have used are digital pins, as you can see in one of the pictures above (Step 2).</p><p>Attached, is a pin out diagram of a Teensy 2. As you can see, 0 - 10 are digital pins, and you can use any of them for connecting your switches or LED's. You might want to exclude the LCD display since you do not have a lot of pins available on your Teensy 2. </p><p>Let me know if you've got any more questions! Cheers.</p>
<p>SUCH a good tutorial! I especially appreciate the video walkthrough on how to connect reaper to Mobius! </p>
<p>This is awesome. I wish I had this tutorial a year ago... I've built something really similar. I'll post a basic instructable and refer people here for more details.<br>Mine has a few differences as you can see in the photo. I don't have a screen, just two leds for feedback. <br>I have four states that I can select. <br>1. Midi controller assignments (for mobius etc.)<br>2. Midi note assignments. (Key of C with Transpose up, down and minor buttons)<br>3. Piezo electric drum inputs from jacks on the back<br>4. Room for ideas and expansion (likely a distance sensor and two pots doing a range of things depending on other buttons pushed)</p>
<p>Thank you ! :) That's quite a cool project you've done aswell. Serves as a multipurpose midi utility box. I especially like the idea of a seperate breakout box, the Teensy has many inputs to spare, why waste them right ! :D </p><p>But I've got a question, if you're using an electronic kit, the module itself should generate midi note values foreach of the triggers. Are the triggers bypassing the teensy ? Or are you usingcustom made triggers, and using the electrical signals generated from the piezo trigger and fed it into the Teensy to act as a custom module ?</p>
<p><a href="http://www.instructables.com/id/USB-Midi-Foot-Pedal-and-Drumkit/" rel="nofollow">http://www.instructables.com/id/USB-Midi-Foot-Peda...</a><br>Here is the idea. I've made custom triggers with piezos and I just have jacks in the back and a jack on the triggers, so they can be plugged in the back via a standard guitar cable.</p>
<p>This is pretty sick! </p>
Thanks man!
<p>Nice project, thanks for sharing!</p>
Thank you ! :)<br>

About This Instructable

17,222views

132favorites

License:

Bio: An audiophile, a guitarist and a DIY enthusiast. I like learning new stuff and experimenting. Check out my SoundCloud page to know more: https://soundcloud ...
More by Thrifleganger:Teensy MIDI USB foot controller for controlling Mobius Looper 
Add instructable to: