Musician builds awesome Arduino-powered MIDI controller, and so can you

Making music can be an expensive hobby, particularly if you don’t set limits on the equipment you’re willing to shell out for.

That’s the fate musician Alex Coover, aka Glacial Geyser, came close to experiencing when he set out to get his hands on a new piece of musical equipment. Or, rather, it’s the fate that certainly would have befallen him if he didn’t turn out to be so darn good at DIY projects.

“The keyboard that I use to write music doesn’t have a pitch bend or modulation wheel,” Coover told Digital Trends. “I started looking on the internet for a stand-alone unit and I couldn’t find anything that fit what I was looking for. It seemed that what I was searching for simply didn’t exist unless you were willing to buy a whole new keyboard. I didn’t want to spend that kind of money, so I started considering building my own.”

Jump forward in time, and Coover is the new, proud owner of a homemade, DIY, Arduino-powered MIDI controller, which he calls the Midi Machine.

“I’d never used an Arduino before, and nor I had done too much with soldering other than a few repairs on things I already owned,” he continued. “I enjoyed [the project], although doing the programming for the Arduino was the part I felt most lost on!”

It seems to have been a worthwhile endeavor, however, because the finished product doesn’t just contain pitch bend and modulation wheels, but also two 75mm 10k faders, 10k knobs, and a nifty splattered paint effect for good measure.

“I’ve heard from a lot of people who want to do something similar,” Coover said, regarding the feedback he’s received regarding his homemade instrument. “Most of them have very supportive — although I’ve heard from a few people who tell me I should’ve been using 3D printing. They were disapproving of the fact that I did this by hand, and that I was being such a caveman about cutting out pieces of plastic myself!”

While Coover had to experiment to build his MIDI Machine, however, he’s made it easy on other budding musicians by detailing the step-by-step instructions on an Imgur page, which makes the whole process as easy as learning a new guitar chord.

As for Coover, he told us that the completed MIDI controller has turned out every bit as well as he hoped.

“I’ve been using it every day since I finished it,” he said. “With this controller, I can use it as a drum machine, as well as using the knobs to add effects. At some point in the next couple of years, I want to release a new album — using this as a key instrument in the production.”

We’re confident it’ll be worth the wait!

Product Review

You won't buy Microsoft's Surface Hub 2S, but it could still change your life

The Microsoft Surface Hub 2S wants to change the way you collaborate at work. That’s a lofty goal most devices fail to achieve, but the unique Hub 2S could be an exception. And trust us – you’re going to want it.
Movies & TV

Best new podcasts: The Ballad of Billy Balls, Decomposed, and more

Feel like you’re drowning in podcasts? In this weekly series, we’ll help you pick out the best of the new and returning shows. This week’s picks include a punk love story, disappearing referees, gun court, and intriguing tales from…
Movies & TV

The best movies on Netflix in March, from Buster Scruggs to Roma

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.

The best MP3 players of 2018 cram tons of music into a small package

Want to go for a run, but your phone is weighing you down? Don't sweat it. Can't fit your whole music library on your smartphone? No worries. Check out our list of the best MP3 players, and find one that works for you.
Emerging Tech

Happy birthday, Hubble! Telescope celebrates with image of Southern Crab Nebula

In 1990 the Hubble Space Telescope was launched into low Earth orbit, where it has remained for nearly three decades collecting information about deep space. To celebrate its birthday, Hubble imaged the beautiful Southern Crab Nebula.
Emerging Tech

Star gives off superflare equal to 80 billion megatonnes of TNT. That’s a lot

A tiny star the size of Jupiter has been observed giving off a massive superflare 10 times more powerful than any flare from our Sun. The findings are raising questions about how much energy small stars can hold.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Robots that eat landmines and clean your floors

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it's fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

SpaceX experiences problem during test, Crew Dragon capsule may have exploded

SpaceX has experienced a problem during the testing of its Crew Dragon capsule. During the engine test firing at Cape Canaveral yesterday afternoon, an unspecified anomaly occurred which lead to plumes of smoke rising from the test site.
Emerging Tech

Beresheet crash caused by manual command, but reflector device may have survived

Details are emerging about what may have gone wrong with spacecraft Beresheet's failed moon landing. A manual command was entered which led to a chain reaction. But NASA still hopes to salvage use of its Laser Retroreflector Array device.
Emerging Tech

The oldest type of molecule in the universe has been located at last

A milestone in the development of the early universe was the combination of helium and hydrogen atoms into a molecule called helium hydride. But strangely enough, this ancient molecule has never been detected in space before now.
Emerging Tech

Mercury’s wobble as it spins reveals that it has an inner solid core

Scientists have long wondered what the inside of Mercury looks like, and they now have strong evidence that the planet has a large and solid metallic core. The data for the new findings was collected by the now-defunct MESSENGER mission.
Emerging Tech

Gravitational forces at heart of Milky Way shaped this star cluster like a comet

Hubble has captured the stunning Messier 62 cluster. The cluster is warped, with a long tail which stretches out to form a shape like a comet. It is thought this distortion is due to Messier 62's proximity to the center of the galaxy.
Emerging Tech

The grid of the future will be powered by … giant subterranean bagpipes?

In order to transition to a more renewable-focused energy system, we need to scale up our grid storage capacity --- and our existing methods aren't going to cut it. Could compressed air be the key?
Emerging Tech

Burgers are just the beginning: Embracing the future of lab-grown everything

You’ve almost certainly heard of the 'farm to fork' movement, but what about 'lab to table'? Welcome to the fast-evolving world of lab-grown meat. Is this the future of food as we know it?