Monday, June 9, 2014

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Nord "Mini" Modular project


The making of the midi controller continues. After Novation Xio now the target is Nord Micro Modular. In the early era of planning it seemed as a giant project. First I thought I would build a midi keyboard, a midi controller and a complete eeepc(for nord editor) into a big house. I've used the eeepc for a week but the 10 inch screen(1024*600 resolution) proved to be not enough. There is no room for many modules.

So I gave up on the eeecp idea. I figured  I don't even need the midi keyboard(there is one connected to daw). All I have left was the midi controller. So the whole thing stays small. There are 24 potmeters on a small front panel.( potmeters are in groups of six just like on the big Nord Modular)

The side panels:

Building of the casing:

The electronics remains the teensy board just like before, but this time with a native midi not USB.
The teensy/arduino midi library link is here:

First test circuit with 4 potmeters:

And the final version:


Finaly built in the house:

Nord Mini Modular :)

Few words about the Nord editor. Using the Nord Modular G1 "family" is not easy. For me these two version is  working well:

1. Old hardware, old os:
- Mac Powerbook G3, MacOS9, Roland/Edirol Um-1EX, 3.03 mac editor.

2. Modern hardware, virtualisation:
- Hackintosh, OSX Mavericks, Roland UM-ONE MkII, VMWare fusion with Windows XP, 3.03 win editor, (in win98 compatibility mode)

And finally two demos:

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Novation Xio Controller


This story started with me buying a Novation Xio 25 VA synth. After checking out the original presets I' ve strated to programming. Right there I faced with a problem. I'm sure there are people on Earth who can program a synth using sub-sub menu, but it'snot me. I 've found an editor for windows but not for osx. First I made an environment in Logic:

The Xio manual contains everything, some of the parameters receive CC message the others NRPN .
This way I could programm it quite well, but I still faced the problem the set the potmeters with the mouse, which I also don't like.
I played with a Teensy microcontroller board for a while now. (Teensy is an Arduino like usb developer board). It's able to handle usb midi, you only need to connect the potmeters to it and write a few lines of program code and you good to go. (USB class complient midi controller)

It worked with 2 potmeters. So I figured what if I would make a dedicated controller for the Xio.
Teensy has 12 analog A/D input, every input is connected with 8 channel multiplexer and I got a 12*8=96 potentiometer handling.
On the developer's website there is a schematic diagram and example program code what you need to "little bit" expand.

First of all I needed to figure out which 96 out of the 200 parameters is the most important to control the Xio. Logic environment was a big help in that.
After that I had the list and started to plan the frontpanel.

I've tried to make it small, putting the potmeters cca 25mm from each other. It resulted 5 rows and 19 columns (95 parameters). 91 potmeters and 4 switch.


Frontpanel, potmeters, knobs:


Since it strated as a experiment I didn't make a PCB, I built it on a breadboard.
It contains: a Teensy, 12 multiplexer IC (74HC4051), 3 connector (34pin).
The circuit is connected with floppy cables to the potmeters.

First test, 4 multiplexer, 1 cable. It worked fine.

Couple more solder and build a house and it's ready :))))

So now I have a dedicated USB midi controller for Xio. It can be use to control other device but  parameters can not be set (it uses fixed CC and NRPN messages). 

I recorded some demo video.

First a 303 like...

Second was a supersaw try

The third was a universe sound :)))