And then I made this. It’s called Archaeopteryx, it’s a MIDI controller designed with VDMX in mind and I think it’s pretty hot. I’m going to make a run of similar, smaller controllers called The Sleep Crime so if you’d like to get your hands on one shoot me an email. But for now here’s how this one came into being.
I came across this post by Fake Money detailing building a MIDI controller around a modified Korg Nanokontrol and a USB hub and, having hacked up a qwerty controller in the past, I started scribbling out ideas for my ideal controller. I’ve always been big on the Livid Ohm 64 but it didn’t have enough knobs for me. The first idea i scribbled down came out like this.
The required ingredients:
- 2 nanokontrols
- 1 usb qwerty keyboard
- 1 usb hub
- 3 10k linear faders
- 33 10k linear pots and knobs
- 9 toggle switches
- 55 momentary push buttons
- Some sort of case
All up the parts cost about $400 AUD. The case I scored for free in hard rubbish. In a past life it was a cutlery box.
I started with the keyboard – keyboards work by having two conductive sheets placed one on the other that lead to a little PCB with a whole stack of terminals. When a button is pressed two terminals find each other and the keyboard figures out which button you pressed. In order to make your more awesome push buttons do the same thing it’s a case of tracing the two sheets back to the PCB and figuring out which two terminals are shorted to the desired keypress. There’s a good run down on how to do that on the ableton forums here. I ended up with a squid like PCB and a notepad full of gibberish:
Getting stuck into the nanokontrols was a bit tougher. I followed Fake Money’s guide to dismantling these little things and after a bit of trial and error managed to remove everything I needed to to solder my own pots. If you’re trying this yourself, this is a good way to dismember the faders:
wiring up one half of the buttons…
wiring up the other half…
attaching the qwerty squid…
slapping the whole shebang together. I used a USB hub with a USB B connector to save more soldering and it’s actually a great little hub.
inserting the hyperstrobic eureka shield™ – scientifically designed to lift and separate.
and with the hyperstrobic eureka shield properly installed the whole thing was done. there were a couple of little bugs found in testing. just one or two miswired qwerty buttons but with that fixed Archaeopteryx is ready to scavenge in the jurassic period.