asharpminor

I want to build a "console"-like controller

39 posts in this topic

Hi there... Well, this is a little more complicated that building guitar pedals or building a guitar, but this is ny far the most exciting project ever... But I need some advice...

This is a single channel strip of the software plus the master fader. mix_channel_strip_full.jpg

Well, my project is quite ambitious but, I believe, very doable...

Well, something like this: awsmain8.jpg or Duality_SE_Overhead_Xlarge.jpg

24 faders (or even 48) + master fader, 33 pots per channel X 24 (or 48 channels), motorized faders, USB/midi interface? Lcd screens to monitor some parameters...

Well, I'd love to discuss some things with someone who has built larger units and really kicks it up a notch every time...

I'd like to discuss not only possibilities but also improvements and performance, so please hit me up...

Thanks in advance...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Phew... Complicated is certainly the word, up to 1584 POTs! I believe that would make it the largest MIDIbox ever made :)

I don't want to sound negative but this is going to be fairly difficult to implement using MIDIbox hardware modules, each AINx4 module supports up to 32 analogue inputs and you are not going to be able to daisy-chain 49 of these.... Also the CORE32 currently supports a maximum of 16 motorfaders! You are either going to need multiple CORE32s or design new hardware modules (and write drivers for them!).

If I was going to attempt something like this, I would probably use encoders rather than POTs where possible as with POTs you can get jitter problems, especially as the CORE32 operates at 3.3v. Do you anticipate this "just" being a controller or do you plan to incorporate audio mixing as well? If so you may want to look at the MIDIbox mixer project http://www.midibox.o...id=midiboxmixer

Also, how are your programming skills? You would definately need to do quite a lot of coding to achieve this! On the positive side, none of the current MIDIbox projects have exceeded the capacity of the STM32 so it may well be possible to achieve much of what you desire :)

Cheers

Phil

Edited by philetaylor

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I truly believe it will be something... both good and hard... :geek:

For better understanding, adding audio to this would actually be BUILDING a console... hehe... No, I want it to be JUST a controller, nothing else.

And I want this design because the software's mixer is based on these consoles, so I figure it would make a lot of sense to have full hands on control over it...

Pots or enconders? I'd go for the ones that would work better, so probably encoders then...

So before I get all excited with this, thinking about designing and stuff, I wanna be real about this.

I'm no computer geek but I can get some help, and probably in the forum some guys that have been down this road before provide some good advices.

Budget? I estimate a few grand... Would still be worth it, though. As long as it's possible, I'm down for it. Now, me designing a new way to make this happen, or new hardware... I'd need some help to know what to look for actually...

So thanks for your input and feel free to tell me some more about this...

Antonio

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You're well in the "a few grand" range with that. A rough guesstimate with the numbers you've given says you'll be looking at 8-15k EUR. With a guesstimated build time of ~500 hours of soldering + about the same again for wiring and the case.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@NILS 8 to 15k, is that your estimate for a 24 fader version or 48?

Being realistic I'd go for 24. 48 would be something for later maybe, depending on the outcome and the "feel" of the controller itself....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was picking values in between add a few grand for 48, subtract a few grand for 24.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@NILS: yeah, I see... What do you think? Is it doable to put a thing like this together or would I encounter several technical difficulties? If I would, and you would happen to know any, please share... :tongue:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, philetaylor already mentioned some facts about hardware limitations, and you'd probably have to program software for the console too..

To get a good overview about the possibilities of the MidiBox-platform, you should start by having a thorough read at http://www.ucapps.de

You can also find a gallery there containing pictures of some of the most impressive builds

Edited by Flemming

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wouldn't say it is impossible, but quite overambitious.

Since every channel has same controls (EQ, Sends etc.), why not try to do some clever control integration.

Have a look at for example the recent Presonus 16.4.2:

225534.jpg

Separate faders per channel but a common section for channel editing.

You would have to do just one channel strip and just come up with some clever channel selection.

But honestly, if I were to think about building a CONTROLLER of that size and that full access + buying the software,

I would go for the real console anyway.

Don't want to ruin your motivation, just my thoughts.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
if I were to think about building a CONTROLLER of that size and that full access + buying the software, I would go for the real console anyway.

I have to agree with Stuart here.... while it is possible to do it using multiple cores, the software needed to make it work is going to be very very complex. Certainly more complex than you at the moment, seem to understand.

It's not that it's impossible... it's just that by spending 10,000 or more on it, you might as well be buying good desk off the shelf for 5,000 and having the other 5,000 available to spend on real hardware instead of virtual hardware (real synths, outboard etc etc) There are some spectacular bargains to be had. A good Mackie with automation (even a second hand one) will cost you way less than building this project. It's about what's practical, and what's realistic.

I also think that given your comments above that "I'm no computer geek but I can get some help" I personally think this may be why you've underestimated the software programming involved to achieve this. Add another 1000 hours in programming time, and you might get close.

"Is it doable to put a thing like this together or would I encounter several technical difficulties?" That question alone, says it all really... Several technical difficulties is something of an underestimate.

I really don't want to dampen your spirits or your motivation, but you really need to think about whether you want to commit two to three years and 3000+ hours to this project. When you can get the same results from the real thing, for a lot less money.

Best Regards,

Julian (Fozzy The Bear)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

the other factor to add in is the casework, you would have to get the casework designed, cnc cut and folded, get pemserts punched in, then powdercoating, and then some form of graphical overlay so you can see what button is what etc.

im just coming to the end of my current build and i am then myself building a console unit. now im going to be taking the mblc and combining that with an mb64e all in the same case.

this will give me the mackie protocol for use with my daw software and also the mb64e can be programmed with a host of extra options for my daw software that the lc wont do.

im not going to use motorised faders at the moment simply because i dont need them as i have two yamaha 02r consoles for automation. i am currently working on the casework for this and also starting on the boards soon. prehaps take a look over at what i will be doing for that as by combining the two will get a fully configurable console controller and by putting the encoders and buttons to different groups etc you can page between them for different command functions rather than having to overload the unit with so many buttons and encoders, as per the presonus.

personally i would look at making something like the mblc unit first, make a standard 8 fader unit for now, once you have that under your belt you can add more, the pic version has a limit for 8 motorfaders, but using more cores and mf boards you can have more faders. however the new core32 has an option for 16 faders, thats something to look into.

lots of input here from everyone. but the most important information you will get from anyone here is read, read, read!

welcome to the forum

ssp

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@ stuartm: That's really clever "Separate faders per channel but a common section for channel editing"... Then I'd probably live with 16 or even 8 faders plus a section where I could access the dynamics, EQ, inserts, returns, etc... How come I never thought of that??? :sweat:

About buying the real thing... That 24 fader lil' monster sells at 100 grand. All worth it because it's pure analog, super preamps, EQ and Dynamics, plus has DAW integration... The bigger brother is all of that but the top of the line preamps, I mean, all included... For a modest price of 275 grand... Very worth it though... BUt I dont have that... Digital mixers? Well, I wanna use my own preamps, not the mixers... And the only mixers I kinda look at are the yamaha's 02 and DM2000, which go for 10 and 20 grand each...

Me? I want a controller that could get me great "hands on" feel.

I've seen somre very impressive builds, including Alex's... I was amazed...

About the design and casework, I'd get it done right right and with graphics and all... I've been working with other midi controllers such as the M-audio projectmix... Well, is not as hands on as I wish, you still gotta click the mouse for many things... It does have faders, Pan, mute solo, rec arm... But still...

@ ssp: If you can link me to your build, I'd love to see what you've been working on...

Thannks

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
About buying the real thing... That 24 fader lil' monster sells at 100 grand.

That'll be because it's an SSL..... Not because it's worth 100K.

Like I said... You can get a 32 input Mackie that does 90% of what that SSL does for 5000.00 on the second user market, and in an audio comparison I defy nearly anybody at all to tell the difference in output quality.

If you want totally analogue, then I know where there's a very nice 48 input NEVE with retrofitted mixmaster automation, going for less than 10K.

For what you've said you want to achieve as an end result, you'll be spending at least twice if not three times as much as commercially available gear that will already do what you want to do. And if what you're doing is controling a virtual mixer running on PC Hardware it's impossible to go comparing that to an SSL. You're limited to the DAC quality on the PC it's running on.

But if you only want people to tell you it can be done, then YES! it can be done. But at a cost in money and time and problems, that far exceeds what is already available off the shelf.

I look forward to seeing the spectacular results. I wish you "Good Luck" with your project.

Best Regards,

Julian (Fozzy The Bear)

Edited by Fozzy The Bear

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Do you mean the mackie 32.8 or that digital one with touch screen?

Well, mackie is pretty cool, I've worked with a 24.8 a few times. Nice sound. BUT, we did most of the stuff with external stuff, such as some warm TL Audio valve pre/compressor, we had some great outboard. But that is whole different thing: Analog... There's also analog 24 ch TOFT ATB series consoles, better then the mackies... The thing about the SSL (well, one of the things) is simply having dedicated dynamics to every channel plus the master bus compressor... The EQ sounds super sweet and they've been around for a while as a standard... Along with NEVE...

Now, I'd go for a controller that could at least control the whole channel strip without having to open any windows or clicking...

I also use pro tools and. a while ago, I've had the chance to try the control 24 and honestly I was a bit disappointed... Well, they have the Icon desk that is much like a SSL with full channel strip control, but thats all it does: control... Has no processors so basically you pay like 50 or 60 grand to have knobs and faders... Could there be easier ways? Mackie control and behringer are just not an option for me... Even if I'd lay it out side by side, I want to be able to control every parameter of the mixer without opening any windows or screens...

And I understand your concerns and maybe I'm asking too much hehe. I'd go for a smaller unit like 8 faders as long as I could make it work nice...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hmm..

As others have said, it might take a little more than you think to get this working.

philetaylor was kind enough to plug the Midibox Mixer.. it is an analog mixer with MIDI controls.

But the circuit boards are not ready yet, so you'd have to start by learning PCB design.

That would allow you to leave out the preamps if you prefer your own external ones, and

there are some other cool things it can do.. but it's not at the level of what you are dreaming of right now, and I doubt it will ever get there.

If you REALLY want to design your own console.. Perhaps you should begin with an existing design, and build and modify it a bit until you get comfortable with what is involved in a project like this.. In the end your "ideal design" will change, but so will your ability to realize it, and when the two meet, you will have learned something about mechanical, electrical, electronic, programming, and user-interface design. It's a lot of fun, and there are plenty of people here who will help you.. as long as you are doing the ground work.

Have Fun,

LyleHaze

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And I understand your concerns and maybe I'm asking too much hehe. I'd go for a smaller unit like 8 faders as long as I could make it work nice...

I think you're absolutely right.... It's the way to go with this project. It's much easier and cheaper than building a full desk. The way I'd do it is to use the Midibox 64 software. It has a bank switching function already programmed into the software. so you could set your physical channels by just calling up a different bank (stored in bank sticks). That way you could control a virtually limitless number of channels in the virtual mixer, from just the 8 or 16 real faders. Plus you could then create a bank just to control the group masters as well.

Best Regards,

Julian (Fozzy The Bear)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Humm....

I just wanna thank all of you guys for the fast input...

I was taking a good look at this mixer you guys sent me

71251_l.jpg

and I think it was design in a really nice and smart way, to have the channel strip laying around horizontally...

That would be a kind of design I'd take on, either 8 or 16 fader... Looks much more "doable" and realistic doesn't it? :blush:

And this one really opened my eyes... Midi

I'll do some more thinking I guess...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, I did not think of exact measurements yet... But I think I'd lay it out kinda like this...

Bear in mind that I've simply cut and pasted the strip channel, but I'd have a transport panel on the right of the master fader, with all the necessary buttons like zoom, automation, undo, functions and different views, etc.

I like the LED's around the knob showing the value of the parameter. And I guess I'd add LCD's to see the track names. Depending on the dimensions of the whole thing, It could have 8 fader or 16... Designing will be tricky because I dont want the knobs to be all over each other :wacko:

So must be around the 64 encoders, plus faders, plus like 70 buttons... It's getting trickier every time I think about it.. :ermm:

So if someone had some great design idea to actually improve the feel of it, let me know what on ur mind :shifty:

post-7333-126584770528_thumb.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So, you read about the MidiBox platform, what it can offer and what limits it may present?

It somehow seems a bit redundant to discuss box-layout if your ideas can't be realised anyway, right? Also, a debate of this character seems to be much more rewarding for both parties if their point of reference is the same!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So, you read about the MidiBox platform, what it can offer and what limits it may present?

Yes, indeed. I did and still am reading all about the midibox 64. So tell me if I'm correct: it can have up to 64 pots or faders, but not 64 of each right?

"Device IDs to address up to 8 boxes in a MIDI chain " means that I could hook up to midi boxes together? I mean could I do independent boxes under the same casing? Like expand it?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

right if you can live without motor faders then you can build a nice little 16 fader with a single master fader unit, with mtc display, menu system lcd and metering etc.

basically you build an mb64e and take sections from the mblc and add them to the code when its compiled. now that may seem daunting, i know it did for me, but when you have done it a few times its easy to understand.

the meters next to the faders can be done then you can have some led rings around the balance encoders, and you then assign various things to each button, you can have active leds next to the buttons also.

as you want encoders then the mb64e is the one to go for, for the mtc display you just grab that section from the lc page d/l and also the metering section, its just a case of adding the bits of code to the asm files.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ok, Ignore the last questions. I found out where the answers were... You guys must get pissed when people ask you stupid questions... :blush: I know I would...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

you know you could start with something simple like a midi mon just to get to grips with things. then when your ready you could re-use the core and lcd etc for building the control surface.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So, Ive been reading... So far, Alex's build just blows me off, for all the obvious reason. :frantics:

I've looked at the limitations of the midibox.

And there's one thing I'd like to know... Knowing the mackie control, it has these buttons where u can instantly assign the rotary encoders to either EQ, Plugin, Send, Instrument, etc. By having that I could save a lot of encoders, actually.

Is it possible to have a common channel section (In/Compressor/Gate/EQ/Insert/Send) assignable to a selected channel, but then have a button to also use that section as a controller for Master SENDS and Returns? I'm trying to figure out a smart way to use the midi box for what I need without going too complicated...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

build an lc and use the mackie settings, done.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now