DIY Ableton foot controller build thread!

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friend_kami
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Re: DIY Ableton foot controller build thread!

Post by friend_kami » Tue Apr 07, 2009 10:54 pm

im curious. could you just hook it up to your computer and take a test cable and connect it throughout the two connection tbs on the keyboard pcb (the ones youve soldered your leads onto that is), and just check with note pad what letters comes out?

im a complete idiot with how this matrix works so yeah, bare with me eh. :p

AlexMC
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Re: DIY Ableton foot controller build thread!

Post by AlexMC » Wed Apr 08, 2009 8:04 am

Yes - this makes sense. Although it only took ~10 minutes to figure out what tracks I would use with a multimeter. Not every combination of terminals will produce a character, though.

wasoota
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Re: DIY Ableton foot controller build thread!

Post by wasoota » Thu Apr 09, 2009 4:03 pm

I'd also recommend digging out some of your old gaming gear (if you have any). I'm 'hacking' an old PC Dash 2 for a pedalboard with up to of 36 buttons, a hat switch I can map e.g. to the arrow keys for navigation, a shift button to double all that and programming software that'll let me assign any combination of keypresses I throw at it. That's more than I'll ever need.

BTW, I used a makeshift drill bit made from the tip of a thumbtack to drill holes into those rectangular pads for easier soldering. It's small enough not to disrupt the pad but large enough to take a wire afterwards. Drill from the copper side, as the 'exit wound' can still be nasty. :mrgreen: I'm also thinking of making the whole thing modular with a 'control unit' that I could transfer to smaller and larger versions of just the switching board. A parallel port out would be enough to handle all the leads in this case...

friend_kami
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Re: DIY Ableton foot controller build thread!

Post by friend_kami » Fri Apr 10, 2009 2:52 am

wasoota wrote:I'd also recommend digging out some of your old gaming gear (if you have any). I'm 'hacking' an old PC Dash 2 for a pedalboard with up to of 36 buttons, a hat switch I can map e.g. to the arrow keys for navigation, a shift button to double all that and programming software that'll let me assign any combination of keypresses I throw at it. That's more than I'll ever need.

BTW, I used a makeshift drill bit made from the tip of a thumbtack to drill holes into those rectangular pads for easier soldering. It's small enough not to disrupt the pad but large enough to take a wire afterwards. Drill from the copper side, as the 'exit wound' can still be nasty. :mrgreen: I'm also thinking of making the whole thing modular with a 'control unit' that I could transfer to smaller and larger versions of just the switching board. A parallel port out would be enough to handle all the leads in this case...

cmon, dont be shy, show us the pics :D

wasoota
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Re: DIY Ableton foot controller build thread!

Post by wasoota » Fri Apr 10, 2009 7:34 am

friend_kami wrote:
wasoota wrote:I'd also recommend digging out some of your old gaming gear (if you have any). I'm 'hacking' an old PC Dash 2 for a pedalboard with up to of 36 buttons, a hat switch I can map e.g. to the arrow keys for navigation, a shift button to double all that and programming software that'll let me assign any combination of keypresses I throw at it. That's more than I'll ever need.

BTW, I used a makeshift drill bit made from the tip of a thumbtack to drill holes into those rectangular pads for easier soldering. It's small enough not to disrupt the pad but large enough to take a wire afterwards. Drill from the copper side, as the 'exit wound' can still be nasty. :mrgreen: I'm also thinking of making the whole thing modular with a 'control unit' that I could transfer to smaller and larger versions of just the switching board. A parallel port out would be enough to handle all the leads in this case...

cmon, dont be shy, show us the pics :D
lol, I got kids man, it's a miracle this got beyond the pipe dream. :D

The software is very cool though, you can program any number of keyboard shortcuts (like "ctrl+c; rightarrow; ctrl+v") with a timeline (it has quantize for your recording but you can't set the timing manually) or extended commands where e.g. one combination is sent when you press the button, another is sent when you hold it and a third one on release. The unit has four two-colored LEDs under the hatswitch, but Saitek never got around to re-integrating that into their software after it was dropped in an upgrade to post-Win2k, so it's always red. IRRC there's a thirt-party driver though that lets you set LED state (red or green), although programming is done via a script file.

I'll be making a 'base unit' with 10 or 14 buttons (haven't decided yet. five is a nice group but seven is more), one dedicated shift button (the software lets you assign shift to any one you want, but I'd rather have one dedicated one that's latching, so I don't have to keep my foot on it so shift) and the hatswitch (which can be set to mouse emulation or eight separate buttons in the software) and a 'breakout box' VGA-plug for the rest of the buttons should I decide I need more. I'll post back when it's past the embarrassingly crude stage... right now I need a bigger case and a lot more footswitches. :mrgreen:

wasoota
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Re: DIY Ableton foot controller build thread!

Post by wasoota » Fri Apr 10, 2009 8:08 pm

Sorry about the crappy pics, my phone is all I have at the moment. Here's the unit with the hat switch installed and a jack plug to break out just the 'Fire' button. €5 case and a jack. I'm kinda proud that I managed to install the hat switch like that, LEDs and all. I usually irreversibly break stuff like that in the first five minutes of building: :mrgreen:

Image
http://img520.imageshack.us/img520/9713/unitd.jpg

Typically for my projects, I considered a lot of things but not the hat switch orientation. In my mind the unit was rotated 90° clockwise. No biggie though for once, but typical.

Here's the inside, looking from below (again, sorry about the quality, but you get the idea). You can barely make out the holes drilled in the pads with the nail (I deliberately went a little off center because I was afraid it would split the pad otherwise):

Image
http://img519.imageshack.us/img519/1387/unitinside.jpg

Special basement-aged birch scrapwood as spacers, glued with Araldit. There's another screw now through that hole on the bottom)

The VGA plug will go on the lower right side of the unit (left in the bottom pic). The outboard pedalboard will then basically just be (maxed out version) a matrix of 7 colums and five rows, plus the latching shift button. I'll wait with that though until I'm bored enough to do all that wiring. There's still room on this 'master unit' for a button or two, but I'll probably keep it like this.

Here's a pic of the editor, btw, showing the original PC Dash 2:
Image
http://img512.imageshack.us/img512/3770 ... editor.jpg

If I understand the software correctly, you can assign a second shift button to give you four (!) modes (no shift, shift1, shift2, shift1+2). 140 commands, that's way too much. But maybe that way you can get along with just one or two rows of buttons (i.e. 28 or 56 commands). The full-blown 5x7 matrix becomes less likely the more I think about it.

Lots of joysticks (even cheap models) have similar capabilities, even if you don't utilize the axes (which of course you could, via vMidiJoy or so, and in parallel to this keymapping concept!). If the programming software allows for a shift button you've immediately got loads of slots at your disposal, completely plug and play and without tying up your keyboard at all. I've had this thing kicking around for literally a decade I think and never really used it until now.

gjm
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Re: DIY Ableton foot controller build thread!

Post by gjm » Sat Apr 11, 2009 4:19 am

Very cool :)
iMac - 10.10.3 - Live 9 Suite - APC40 - Axiom 61 - TX81z - Firestudio Mobile - Focal Alpha 80's - Godin Session - Home made foot controller

zeal
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Re: DIY Ableton foot controller build thread!

Post by zeal » Thu Apr 16, 2009 2:05 pm

great thread, thanks for putting this up. it's inspired me to put together something similar:

Image

it pumps out these characters:
CAPS 1 2 3
q w e r
a s d f
z x c v
t y u i

i chose 123 for the top buttons so they're not effected by the bank switch.
it's designed for clip selection, to be used along side a nanokontrol for vjing.

cheers for the inspiration :D

AlexMC
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Re: DIY Ableton foot controller build thread!

Post by AlexMC » Thu Apr 16, 2009 2:34 pm

Nicely done! Hope it works as expected...

In my build I used the Caps Lock key rather than SHIFT key as I wanted to use the Caps LED to indicate bank 1 or 2...

Of course, I realised belatedly (and accompanied by much cursing) that Caps doesn't shift non-alphabetic characters to their 'upper case' output (i.e. 4/$, 5/%, ,/< etc). Luckily for me, AutoHotkey allows you to specify a charcter output based on the *status* of the Caps key (phew), so when Caps is ON, 'a' triggers 'A' and '4' triggers '$' so it worked out ok in the end!

Maybe better in the first place if you either:

- use SHIFT rather than CAPS to select a bank (although this wouldn't allow you to use the CAPS LED as an indicator)
- only used letters for your main character inputs (i.e. no digits of punctuation marks).

As it happens, the AutoHotkey script only required a little tweaking to allow me to trigger the 'upper case' functions of numerical keys etc, so no big deal!

ohrobot
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Re: DIY Ableton foot controller build thread!

Post by ohrobot » Thu Apr 16, 2009 9:48 pm

I have a problem with the momentary switches. I bought the ones you linked (http://www.rapidonline.com/netalogue/specs/78-0743.pdf). I am confused because there are not two but six connectors (1,2,3, M, M, M) and I couldn't make the switch work by crossing two connectors (I tried every combination..). unfortunatelly I don't really understand the schematics.

can anybody tell me which connectors I have to cross or connect to the two keyboard cables in order to make the momentary switch work?

zeal
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Re: DIY Ableton foot controller build thread!

Post by zeal » Fri Apr 17, 2009 1:57 am

that is a confusing schematic! at a guess i'd say 1 would connect to the adjacent m, same with 2 and 3. you could try bridging each side (1,2,3 & mmm). that looks to be what's happening in the pics on pg 1. sorry i can't be more help... i'm sure other ppl will know more.

how have you been testing the connection?



alexmc - yeah, i did wonder about your numeric values and caps lock. nice work around. i was considering making a 32 button matrix instead of sixteen which would mean i'd run out of letters so i was going to use a toggle switch hooked up to shift to switch banks. didn't need that many buttons in the end but might make something like that in the future.

AlexMC
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Re: DIY Ableton foot controller build thread!

Post by AlexMC » Fri Apr 17, 2009 8:14 am

ohrobot wrote:I have a problem with the momentary switches. I bought the ones you linked (http://www.rapidonline.com/netalogue/specs/78-0743.pdf). I am confused because there are not two but six connectors (1,2,3, M, M, M) and I couldn't make the switch work by crossing two connectors (I tried every combination..). unfortunatelly I don't really understand the schematics.

can anybody tell me which connectors I have to cross or connect to the two keyboard cables in order to make the momentary switch work?
Those are double-pole, double-throw switches... meaning that each switch has two positions (ON/OFF) and can control 2 circuits simultaneously. For our purpose we only need one circuit switched, so we only use one 'side' of the switch, but for the sake of understanding think of the switch as being split down the middle, with both halves working symmetrically. WHatever happens on one side also happens on the other (whilst there is no interaction betweem each 'side').

If I recall correctly, if you look at the base of the switch, one side is marked '1 2 3' and the other marked M (for momentary). When the switch is OFF (i.e. undepressed), 2 and 3 are shorted (as are the equivalent lugs on the 'other side' of the switch). When you press the switch (ON), 1 and 2 are shorted (as are, again, the equivalent lugs on the other side). I.e. '2' is the common lug, so connect one conductor to this lug (i.e. the middle 'leg'). Hook the second conductor to lug 1. When the switch is depressed, one will be shorted to the other and you'll get a keyboard output. I would just use the side with the numbers and ignore the other side of the switch!

Hope this helps!

ttaralli
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Re: DIY Ableton foot controller build thread!

Post by ttaralli » Fri Apr 17, 2009 4:46 pm

Does anyone know how to make a Volume pedal for Wah purposes?
MacBook Pro 2.2 GHz Intel Core Duo 2GB-RAMM
Ableton Live 7
Dave Smith MoPho Keyboard
Maschine
Korg NanoKontrol
Motu Ultralite MK3
EHX - Big Muff & Memory Boy

friend_kami
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Re: DIY Ableton foot controller build thread!

Post by friend_kami » Fri Apr 17, 2009 4:49 pm

so. i dont have any money right now to get switches etc, but my plan was to build one with 8 banks, using 8 led switches that lights up when the selected bank is on, then simply route the damned thing through my resident midi translator setup and use preset changes to select banks :D

thats one nice clip controller. minimal and to the point. very neat.
i have my usb keyboard right next to me just waiting to get ripped open hehe.

zeal
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Re: DIY Ableton foot controller build thread!

Post by zeal » Sat Apr 18, 2009 2:28 am

ttaralli wrote:Does anyone know how to make a Volume pedal for Wah purposes?
you could do it using a cheap usb game pad. the joysticks are just two pots so you could take one of them and house it in an old volume pedal then use max or something to turn the game data into midi. you'd have a lot of other buttons to do something with too. here's someone who made a expression pedal out of an old wah. it's hooked up to a pedal board and is not true midi but you could do the same thing with usb guts and i'm sure it would work.

i've got plans for bigger clip selector/all purpose controller. i want to use a game pad to get some joystick or fader action but still want a 32 button matrix... after scrounging around the net i came across this thing and it looks perfect!

Image

so many buttons!!! it's intended for ps2 but is apparently pc compatible... hopefully won't need to use an adapter.
i picked one up off of ebay for 30AUD. can't wait to tear it apart :D

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