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Author Topic: Building a custom but simple MIDI fader box  (Read 5098 times)

RBIngraham

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Building a custom but simple MIDI fader box
« on: January 18, 2017, 01:22:03 PM »

Does anyone here have some ideas of how to go about building a simple custom fader box.  Just plain MIDI is all I really care about and I'm not even looking for motorized faders.  But I do need some nice, smooth action, good quality faders.

I don't need help with building an enclosure, I have a lot of metal and wood working folks who can build or assist me with that.  But what about the electronics to make something like this?  Should I start with Arduino type thing?

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admin

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Re: Building a custom but simple MIDI fader box
« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2017, 10:53:00 AM »

I think I would definitely want motorized faders.  At least for me, the ultimate control surface is:

Per channel:
 - Fader
 - Mute button
 - Solo button
 - Select button
 - Scribble Strip

Extra buttons across the top would be nice

Width should be such that you can stack them horizontally for a smooth look

I would bet that with a $20 little linux one-board unit, you could do everything you need, and even have a network interface.

Bob
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fdew

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Re: Building a custom but simple MIDI fader box
« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2017, 01:18:13 PM »

I have looked at this on paper a number of times I have drawn up CAD models, and even got a friend to build me a prototype that runs AND POWERS 4 faders from a USB port using a PIC18F2450 - 8-bit PIC Microcontrollers.

Picture 4 or 8 faders plugged into a laptop or tablet and working with no wires including no power wires.

It works.

The problem is price.  I could never do it cheep enough to compete with off the shelf hardware.  I think if I had to have one I would dig a dead motormixer out of the trash and gut it except for the faders, and wire something to them.

Frank
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RBIngraham

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Re: Building a custom but simple MIDI fader box
« Reply #3 on: January 19, 2017, 01:31:04 PM »

I have looked at this on paper a number of times I have drawn up CAD models, and even got a friend to build me a prototype that runs AND POWERS 4 faders from a USB port using a PIC18F2450 - 8-bit PIC Microcontrollers.

Picture 4 or 8 faders plugged into a laptop or tablet and working with no wires including no power wires.

It works.

The problem is price.  I could never do it cheep enough to compete with off the shelf hardware.  I think if I had to have one I would dig a dead motormixer out of the trash and gut it except for the faders, and wire something to them.

Frank

Here's the thing, I don't really care about being cost competitive.  This is NOT an attempt in any way to create a product I intend to sell.  It's a purely selfish endevor to fit my specific needs because none of the comercial products are close to what I want.  The closest things I've seen to what I want are JL Cooper FaderMasters and those things are only 4 faders and very long in the tooth, if you can even find them for sale.  Everything esle has way too much much BS and and extra knobs, functions, buttons, etc... 

And since I really don't care about motorfaders or scribble strips I think I could make a one off unit for not all that much with a little know how.  By not that much, I mean sure it might cost me two or three or even 4 times what a Behringer or Presonus does, but it will be what I want.  24 faders, with Mutes buttons and solo would be nice and that's really all I care about.  No jog wheels, no scribble strips, no transport controls, all of that stuff I either have zero use for or I already have a better way to do it.  :-)

Given the reliability I've experienced with Motormixes the last thing I'm going to do is scavenge one of those for parts.  :-)

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RBIngraham

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Re: Building a custom but simple MIDI fader box
« Reply #4 on: January 19, 2017, 01:53:42 PM »

I think I would definitely want motorized faders.  At least for me, the ultimate control surface is:

Per channel:
 - Fader
 - Mute button
 - Solo button
 - Select button
 - Scribble Strip

Extra buttons across the top would be nice

Width should be such that you can stack them horizontally for a smooth look

I would bet that with a $20 little linux one-board unit, you could do everything you need, and even have a network interface.

Bob

Could you give me some examples of what you're talking about?  I googled Linux one board computer and found several things that are kick starters or the like but not a lot of shipping products.  Probably just not using the best search criteria.

Two Buttons and a fader per channel strip is really all I need.  I mean no offense to anyone else but I do have my reasons for not caring about motor faders and scribble strips and if I don't need them I figure why the hell bother.  Again... not trying to make something for anyone else except me.  :-P

I don't care about scribble strips because, first off I can put that info right on the screen, just above the fader unit.  Also, most pro theatre mixers don't  really mix by reading scribble strips or the label on the fader.  They mix by number.  You put notes in your script with which fader number goes up and which goes down.  If you're doing it correctly you have no time to be reading the scribble strip.  :-)  If it's not built into your motor memory while mixing a performance...  you've probably missed the cue to bring the mic up or down.

The reason I don't care about motor faders is because with AMP all of my faders are assigned directly to DCA channels and we never change banks or any crap like that.  While I wouldn't say I never automate DCA levels, it is VERY rare.  Typically the board op brings the DCA up by hand and then back down by hand and you change what channels are assigned to it with a Scene Recall.  Most level tweaks happen with a mouse on the input faders if needed and if I need to automate some level changes I could do it on the inputs or assign things to a group and then automate that, etc...  that is what I really like about AMP, very easy to set up scenes to do the things I need without screwing up other things.  (which can not be said about a lot of consoles out there)

I fully get why others want more functionality.  If I were mixing bands...  I most definitely would want more controls. 

The ideal surface I've seen over the years was the old Tascam US2400, 24 faders with a few buttons and while it had extra gack, since it has 24 faders I would only have to have one section of extra gack.  That is what I really object to the most with most of these units, even if you only use expander type units there is lots of crap I don't need times 3 or 4 units worth of it.  But the Tascam unit is LONG gone and wasn't very reliable from what I've heard.  (could just be that they are all fairly old now)

The presonus is probably the closest to what I want that is currently in production but I don't like the sound of the report, particularly about it being slow.  The rest I could probably deal with.

Anyway if anyone has links to actual things to look at that I could base such a beast off of, that would be cool.

Or maybe I just save up and see if it's still possible to buy a Mixed Logic.  There is a lot of extra crap on that one too but again at least it's all off to the side.

Heck I would probably just buy myself an X32 to use as a surface if it didn't mean using a Behringer which I wouldn't trust to last very long (particularly the motor faders), but that unit only allows for 8 faders plus a master (emulates a single MCU) when used as a control surface.
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fdew

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Re: Building a custom but simple MIDI fader box
« Reply #5 on: January 19, 2017, 01:57:03 PM »

I wish you well, In fact I know you don't want motorized but if you do go that way you are building EXACTLY what I would like and I would like to see your design,

Either way, if you like I will draw the panel and give you the file to be laser cut. When you get the panels cut, I  will buy one. 

If you need a source http://smidgensinc.com/  is reasonably priced.


Motormix and many others use Alps faders.  Bourns is a good brand, and the king seems to be
Penny & Giles
http://www.cw-industrialgroup.com/Products/Faders.aspx

There are probably better ways, like a raspberry pi but if you want to contact my friend who uses the micro computers, his company is  http://picard-industries.com/

I would like to help more but I am a mechanical guy.
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fdew

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Re: Building a custom but simple MIDI fader box
« Reply #6 on: January 19, 2017, 03:03:23 PM »

Look up
raspberry pi midi potentiometer
or
raspberry pi fader
and you will find some starting points
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fdew

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Re: Building a custom but simple MIDI fader box
« Reply #7 on: January 19, 2017, 04:02:18 PM »

Mixed Logic M24 24  $799  Ebay
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RBIngraham

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Re: Building a custom but simple MIDI fader box
« Reply #8 on: January 19, 2017, 04:15:07 PM »

Doh!
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