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

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<p>SUCH a good tutorial! I especially appreciate the video walkthrough on how to connect reaper to Mobius! </p>
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<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


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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 ...
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