Midibox64E right for me?

5 posts in this topic

Hey. I am a begginer to Midibox, although I have just finished a home study course in basic Electronics.

I am planned to make my first Midibox Midi Control Surface soon and would appreciate some help choosing the correct

version of MIDIbox for my project.


The control surface that I plan to make will be used to opertate a plug in in a DAW and has the following requirements:


21 endless encoders

14 toggle buttons

42 LED (with some of the LEDs being mulit colored)


Some of the LED's will work in conjunction with the toggle buttons, i.e. when a specified toggle button 1 is on, then LED A will turn RED.

When Toggle Button 1 and 2 are both on, then LED A will turn yellow. etc. (although this isn't the exact set up).

Some of the LEDs will be used as an audio meter taking its settings from the DAW.


Is Midibox64E right for me?

Please help. Thanks


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Hi and welcome,


I would rather go for the newer Midibox_NG project. The Midibox64E relies on the "old" 8bit PIC core module, while the Midibox_NG uses the current 32bit LPC core module.

Although it is still possible to use the old stuff, you would be much more flexible and much less limited using the new NG project.


If you want to use RGB Leds, you have to aim for a new 32bit LPC core anyway because afaik those are not supported by the 8bit system.


Unfortunatly metering capability have not been officially implemented in the MB_NG firmware, but this will come sooner or later. There are already several attempts made for that to work, but there is still some work to do. 

And for meters to work you would have to use an appropriate midi protocol inside your daw (like mackie control or logic control).


Maybe you could describe your setup a little more. Which DAW? Which plugins? That could help specifiing your controller requirements.


my regards

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Hi John.


thanks for replying to my message and thanks for the advice.


I think you are right, I didn't realise that Midibox has changed so much,

but most definitely welcome the changes.


I think that new ARM MCU is much better and gives much more options,

not that I have much experience on MCU's or programming / electronics, however, I have read a book or two and taken a look

at the market and the ARM MCU's certainly appear to be very popular and have much more General purpose inputs and outputs

and memory.

which is really good for our purposes.


Presently my studio setup is fairly minimal, centred around an "In the box" DAW multi-tracker ( Logic Pro and basic Protools)


I also runs Virtual instruments, Native instruments  for sampler / synths etc.


The plug ins that I plan to make control surfaces for are mostly ones used for engineering rather than creative or

composing, I would like to make control surfaces specifically for use during mix engineering. As not having a pro level desk is a bit of a hinderance during mix engineering and a tactile control surface for the plug ins that you use would give you the same control as the pro engineers have when mixing in a pro studio

on pro level equipment.


I presently favour UAD and waves plug ins for most of these types of jobs, although I do also like a couple of others from other manufacturers that I do not yet own. such as the newish lexicon reverb plug ins etc.


To start with, I perhaps should try to make a control surface for one of the more simpler plug ins (simpler in terms of how many buttons / encoders are required to control) and, if I can afford to, and still have the enthusiasm, I would like to perhaps make more complex ones for the other most used plug ins.


If the programming doesn't already exist, I perhaps would be willing to try and code this myself either in C or Arm Assembly language.

Although one step at a time.


 Actually, at this point, having little applied experience, I would be pleased to be able to make a control surface for even the basic logic plug in sets,

just to see if I can. As long as it doesn't cost me the earth. and build on my experience and then move on to progressively harder projects.

But sticking with plug ins to start. :-)


As I said before, I have just finished a course in basic electronics and have brought a fairly good soldering iron that has a fairly accurate temperature control, which wont fry the sensitive components. So I now am looking for a way to use my new knowledge and think that perhaps Midibox is the ideal starting point, in that I can get hands on without having to do too much science but still can get my hands dirty with the practical and making useful things in the process.



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unfortunatly I have no experience with Logic or Protools, so I can´t really tell, if what you are planning to do, is doable. But this sounds like a good plan.


I suggest you start by building a LPC core module and a DINx4 module and connect some encoders and buttons. I highly recommend that you get some kind of LCD display (e.g. character display), you can get those for around 10 bucks on ebay. It´s freely programmable with the MB_NG firmware (labels, static text, values in various formats) and it provides valuable information for debugging and experimenting.


Don´t focus on one plugin in particular too much for now. A Midibox_NG is able to controll your whole DAW with just a few encoders and buttons, if you want it to. Try to experiment with other plugins and the mixer too.


If you have questions, just turn to the forum, there are a lot of nice folks here who can help.


my regards

Edited by John E. Finster

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Hi again, and thanks again for your advice replying to my message.

Sure, I kind of understand what you are saying. I think I will probably buy the basic NG set up from Smash TV.

and a breadboard with some encoders, buttons faders etc.


One good thing about Logic is that it has what logic call the environment layer which can be used to do all sorts of strange experimental things.

One useful thing that the environment also allows you to do is create a midi monitor which visually outputs MIDI control messages in a notepad type of display

this is really handy for creating midi controllers as you can then use this information when programming the MCU that controls the control surface.

It may take some of the stress out of working things out as you wont have to look for this information else where.

I am not sure if the same plug ins in Protools use the same messages, but being midi controllers messages, probably, well at least partially.

so this could be very useful and helpful.


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