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modifying a Steinberg "Houston controller"


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Hi everybody!

I'm new to this forum, and honestly, I'm completely blown off about what you guys are doing here!


I searched the web about kinda "turning the Houston into a Mackie", which brought me here, and what I saw was like

"my dream finally came true"... sort of!

What I would like to know, is, if it would be possible to keep the actual hardware (wich is of real good quality) of the Houston

- enclosure, faders, LCD, knobs, jog-wheel, whatever - and just replace its "brain" (if it has some... ;o), to magically turn it into a Mackie control...?

That would be so great, since I don't work with Cubase anymore (they rejected to support it anymore, anyway..) and the Houston doesn't have any Mackie-emulation mode. So my beloved controller is pretty much useless now...

There might be a few issues, though:

the LCD I think, has less numbers (is that the right word..?) compared to the Mackie, it has no timecode-display and no push-encoders.

So what I really would like to replace, are the original encoders with push-encoders, and I would love to have a timecode-strip.

If necessary, I'd replace the LCD as well, of course.

Is this possible (that'd be just soooo great!), or would I need a complete set of new/ other hardware?

Thanks ahead for any answer!

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you will have to open your unit to actually find out. I would suspect that you need major modifications. If you're lucky, then there are separate boards for the buttons and encoders, and those are connected to a logic board via cables. Then you could just replace the logic board with MIDIbox parts. But then, this is just speculation, and from my experience I would say that chances for this are actually slim. In most controllers, the logic parts are on the same PCB as the buttons and encoders.

Another thing to worry is the type of motorfaders used in the Houston. The MF module can only handle certain types of faders, so there is no guarantee that those in the Houston can be driven by the MF module. Again, you have to open your unit to find out. If you are unsure how to tell if the faders are compatible or not, take high-res images and post them here. We might be able to tell.

Best regards, ilmenator

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Thank you ilmenator, for showing up! Much appreciated!

That's what I was thinking, too... though I hoped I could do it the easy way ;o)

Whenever I have some time in the next few days, I'll have a deeper look inside the Houston and see what I'll find..

What part of the faders would be most interesting, by the way ... I mean for a picture?

Are we looking for some kind of label on them?

Thanks again for your help!


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to be honest with the price you can get for the unit second hand i wouldnt hack at it personally. i would list the unit on ebay and sell it, then using the funds from that and the funds you would have to spend on parts for modifying it buy the necessary kits from smashtv and also other needed parts from ebay. the case you could get cnc cut and folded or you could make a diy case and front panel. a cnc case would actually be cheaper than getting one made by schaffer.

im just finishing my cerruent project and i am then starting my mblc project but it will also have an mb64e in with it also for extra controls for plugins and daw extras.

you will be able to see how the casework looks and progresses as i design all my own casework.

i would think about that before hacking the huston to bits

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Thanks gentleman for your honest comments on this!

I think you are right, and it's best to build my own designed Pseudo-Mackie from scratch.

So I'm going to search the forum for all related topics and see how far I can get...

It would be great and very helpful, if I'd have the possibility to see one of you and your babies "live" at work. And to discuss a few things.

Any chance to visit one of you guys somedays..?

That'd be so cool! :)


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