bcbox

The making of a Midibox64

83 posts in this topic

Oh yeah, I fogot to mention how much I've been enjoying watching your build!

BTW, I'm also wondering what kind of price you ended up getting on the LED buttons from MEK if you don't mind sharing.  I'm still trying to figure out what I want to do on the physical side for my projects :D

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Not too much to update here. I have been doing a lot of research on painting anodized aluminum - so I can paint up and finish the panel. I guess aluminum is a very hard material to paint or powdercoat without proper pretreatment. The consensus appears to be to clean the anodized aluminum part with an aluminum cleanser followed by a light sanding with 220 grit wet sandin. Next is a second wiping with the metal clenaser and then apply an acrylic polyurethane paint. That's were I'm heading. I'm trying to get this done asap becuase I'm pretty much ready to attachment parts to the panel.

....about those MEC switches I quoted them at many of the distributors in the US and I got prices anywhere from $2.39 to $3.20 each for small quantities. Most places had a lead time on the part of 3-4 weeks. I ended up getting them from Target Electronics because they had them on hand. I paid $2.88 for each switch/cap.

The fader caps are coming in tommorrow (Monday). I sampled a couple different variations of a standard black fader cap with white line. One is the typical hard plastic variety and the second is a soft touch type. I'll post some pics tommorrow ...heading to bed now (I'm recovering from a late night last night - I didn't get anything done today  :-\ unless a load of laundry counts ;D) I'm looking to have a productive week this week, including a bunch of hours on the midibox....so I'll keep posting.

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I've done a bunch of stuff the past few days. There's a lot of work to do when doing a full featured Midibox64! I'm still working on putting on all the connectors for each part/module . There's a couple pcb's I have to remake because of bad fit - not a huge deal but time consuming. I painted the panel today. It's sort of a metal silver color with a glossy overcoat - it's hard to see in the horrible picture I took (I couldn't get a good pic with all the lighting and stuff). The paint came out great. I still think what I might do is when I'm completely done with the design and testing I might sand it down and re-paint the panel again - I have a feeling it might get beat up while I'm fitting and testing everything. Also I want it to be perfect for when I attempt to silkscreen it.

Today I was working on fitting some of the modules and making sure they fit properly. I also tested some of the lighting stuff to make sure all the wiring is correct and everything is ready to just be plugged in.

Here's a couple pics below of the backside and the frontside of the panel. Keep in mind all the main modules, the Core module, AIN, DIN, DOUT are all in the chassis and aren't connected or seen in the pic. The second pics shows the panel from front with some of the stuff lit up..

Image removed due to possibly malicious content. Download at your own risk, it contains a strange script. - stryd_one

http://www.alphazone1.com/midibox/back1.jpg

Image removed due to possibly malicious content. Download at your own risk, it contains a strange script. - stryd_one

http://www.alphazone1.com/midibox/front1.jpg

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it's been a few days since the last update. The final parts have finally come in and I am finally finishing this thing and testing it. I've put a lot of hours into it - it takes quite a bit more time than it looks! I had to redesign a couple PCB's as I mentioned in my last post because there was some problems with everything fitting together properly. There are still a few minor details to figure out. I will be posting some specific stuff about what's been going on with the build this past week, but for now I'll sign off with a shot of the back of the panel stuffed and a shot of the complete unit during the 'light that thing up' test ;D

Image removed due to possibly malicious content. Download at your own risk, it contains a strange script. - stryd_one

http://www.alphazone1.com/midibox/midibox-jun23-2.jpg

[sorry, can't find this image - will upload in future if I can find]

Please don't - stryd_one

Image removed due to possibly malicious content. Download at your own risk, it contains a strange script. - stryd_one

http://www.alphazone1.com/midibox/midibox-jun23-1.jpg

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Congratulations!

Nice box, nice blog.

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Man that thing looks sweeeeet so far! I'm curious to read about the challenges you faced.

Looks like you made the dimensions to fit an old xone mixer. Just curious, what was the fate of that xone 92?

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yeah, I planned things out really well ahead of time but there were some challenges. When I get all the pictures cropped and stuff I'll a bunch more info on each part. Right now I'm actually still stesting and assembling minor parts of it.

The Xone:92 chassis came from allen & heath - I bough it from the parts department. It took a while to get becuase they didn't stock it in the US but it just came in 3 days ago. They really don't even have records of serial numbers in the US - they're all at the UK location - so they really didn't even ask any questions (even though I actually do own a Xone:32 and a I have a Xone:62 at a friends club I set up). I also had to order the knobs from Allen & Heath. I know they are made by Rean and I tried to get them from Rean in the US but the color combo was strictly and allen & heath choice and not off the shelf so I couldn't get them. I needed 55 of them and I paid right about $2 each so that wasn't the most economical decision I made...but I wasn't going to compromise on the design I wanted so I went ahead and did it.

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Wow man, it looks excellent  :o Very professional, looks like it would be great to use

Nice work. Hope my SID turns out half as good as this one...  ;D

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I am still in the prcoesses of building and testing and as mentioned I plan on poitning out many of the pitfalls I found, as well as some time saving stuff.

I took a pic of both the back of the panel and also the inside of the chassis so you could piece together what is going on here. The chassis houses the power supply, all the midibox modules, including the core module, 2xAINX, 2xDIN and 1xDOUT modules. The chassis also houses an M-Audio audio/midi interface. The midi connections between the M-Audio Firewire and the Midibox take place right inside the box. Also the audio record input and outputs are wired to Rca jacks on the rear of the unit. Other revelent connection from the M-Audio Car, including the level enclode pot is also placed at the rear of the chassis. The only connector from the M-Audio Firewire that needs to be plugged in is the Firewire jack. I am currently installin a firewaire jack to the rear of the chassis. Lastly I have installed a BNC jack at the upper right-rear of the chasis for a 12V lamp.

Image removed due to possibly malicious content. Download at your own risk, it contains a strange script. - stryd_one

http://www.alphazone1.com/midibox/inside-1.jpg

The panel looks a mess on the back. It's actually not. Everything is organized. I terminated all the wires from all the panel mount section to terminal heads so they just plug into terminal housing on the midibox AIN, DIN, DOUT modules. This was so I could easily take the panel on and off if needed...

Image removed due to possibly malicious content. Download at your own risk, it contains a strange script. - stryd_one

http://www.alphazone1.com/midibox/backside1.jpg

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I'm in the process of building a box along similar lines with an audiophile fw in it - are you using the headphone out straight out? I'm in 2 minds as to whether to put a headphone amp in mine too as I don't the the fw output is going to be strong enough in some situations.

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I have the headphone output hooked up straight to the back of the unit - but I don't actually plan to use it. I actually don't use the headphone out from the m-audio when using ableton. The cue level is software controlled and is assigned to the knob in the lower right corner of the box.

BTW I'm not done with this thing yet...I'm still doing some things. I just painted the panel (again). It took some time but I finally got the exact color and texture I was looking for. It was a pain in the ass...it ended up a mix of 5 colors and a couple metallic powders. It looks really good now. I just got back from a week long road trip so I'm back to working on it. There will still be many pictures and comments to come!

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:) Sounding great. Can't wait to see it painted up. I see you've screwed your pot sliders top the board - did you manage to get ones that were at the correct height for your fader knobs or did you have to cut them down?

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I see you've screwed your pot sliders top the board - did you manage to get ones that were at the correct height for your fader knobs or did you have to cut them down?

good question! the shaft was too high by about 0.2" I figured this out way ahead of time so I designed the fader pcb's to work with 0.2" spacers, so there is a plastic spacer between each slide pot and the back surface of the panel. I thought about cutting them down and decided it was too risky. In the end it worked out perfect.

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Nice move

Thanks  ;)

Sometimes you take the time and think of a simple solution like that and sometimes you just do stupid things. I've done a few stupid things on this project - I will get to explain them all with time but I'll tell you one here. I burnt out the backlight on the LCD. I assumed the resistor was built into the PCB of the LCD itself and didn't even look at the data sheet. Come to find these LCD's never come with a current limiting (series) resistor installed for the backlight LED. I ended up buying a second LCD a week and a half back; after some calculations I found I needed a 69ohm on that sucker - probably 1/2W is good enough but I just went with a 1W resistor. All is fine now with the LCD!

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It's things like that which are good to hear about (although not good for you, money wise). Was it the current from your -ve contrast voltage that was too high as I thought the core board limits the current anyway via the resistor and transistor? I can see on your boards you've got current limiting resistors in there too for LEDs. Are the resistors in the Dout boards not large enough for your leds or have you got them there to alter the brightness, or another possibility, are they ground lifts?

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I didn't use power for the LCD backlight from the core module. I powered it straight from the power supply I designed.

The resistors on the DOUT board are there for current limiting. You probalby noticed the first 22 are different than the last 8. That's because the first ones are for clear blue LED's, which are very bright and don't need much current. From the LED spec they should run brightest with about a 5K resistor. I tested them for brightness ahead of time and found I like them when used with about 8K, which is about what those resistors are. The remaining 8 resistors are 220ohm and are for standard brightness red LED's.

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...still finishing up the last details. I'm being very anal because I want everything to fit perfect and be reliable. I finished painting the panel last week and now I'm finishing up mounting the very last part to the panel. I will post more comments on the completed panel and chassis as soon as it's completed. Once the everything is in place I will upload the firmware and start testing. I've already tested each block of componenets individually so hopefully I won't have many problems.

I took pictures while I painted the panel. Here's what I did...

1. After sanding and cleaning I primered the panel with krylon primer. I think a lot of people think krylon and spray paint in general are not good paints but I have used this stuff many many times and it's great. Dries fast and sticks...

Image removed due to possibly malicious content. Download at your own risk, it contains a strange script. - stryd_one

http://www.alphazone1.com/midibox/midibox-paint1.jpg

2. The paint cures faster in the heat so I put it in the oven between layers. I put on 3 light layers of primer and let it dry for an hour in the oven before going on.

Image removed due to possibly malicious content. Download at your own risk, it contains a strange script. - stryd_one

http://www.alphazone1.com/midibox/midibox-paint2.jpg

3. The color I wanted I made with a combination of several colors including two metallic powders. I used acrylic enamel as I found it was a good paint for using on aluminum. This is actually that acrylic stuff they sell at hobby stores.

Image removed due to possibly malicious content. Download at your own risk, it contains a strange script. - stryd_one

http://www.alphazone1.com/midibox/midibox-paint3.jpg

4. Here it is after 3 layers of paint. You can see the metallic look. It's a fairly rough texture at this point. The paint is applied with an airbrush. I got good results with a standard airbrush (not to mention I'm not qualified to use the big spraygun).

Image removed due to possibly malicious content. Download at your own risk, it contains a strange script. - stryd_one

http://www.alphazone1.com/midibox/midibox-paint4.jpg

5. After the color is applied I let it dry for several hours and then sprayed it with 2 layers of clear acrylic.

Image removed due to possibly malicious content. Download at your own risk, it contains a strange script. - stryd_one

http://www.alphazone1.com/midibox/midibox-paint8.jpg

6. After another hour I sanded it down with 800grit wet/dry paper to "flatten" the paint. This makes the surface very smooth and not textured.

7. After another 2 layers of acrylic clear glossy spray it starts to look good. I sanded it again lightly with 1200grit.

8. After a final 2 light layers the finish looks nice, a typical satin, slightly glossy finish. The acrylic paint dries hard but you have to give it some time. I let the panel sit for more than a day before touching it and installing any parts.

..more to come..

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Here are a couple more pics showing the newly painted front panel semi-stuffed

Image removed due to possibly malicious content. Download at your own risk, it contains a strange script. - stryd_one

http://www.alphazone1.com/midibox/panel12.jpg

Image removed due to possibly malicious content. Download at your own risk, it contains a strange script. - stryd_one

http://www.alphazone1.com/midibox/panel-13.jpg

Image removed due to possibly malicious content. Download at your own risk, it contains a strange script. - stryd_one

http://www.alphazone1.com/midibox/panel14.jpg

Here is the backside of the panel...

Image removed due to possibly malicious content. Download at your own risk, it contains a strange script. - stryd_one

http://www.alphazone1.com/midibox/back2.jpg

Image removed due to possibly malicious content. Download at your own risk, it contains a strange script. - stryd_one

http://www.alphazone1.com/midibox/back1.jpg

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...still working on it. I've been wokring on debugging the core module. I've spent quite a few hours on it. In the end I found my PIC is bad. I really didn't expect that but that's exactly what it came down to. I when ahead and built a JDM programmer and check the PIC to verify - sure enough it's bad. I ordered another pic and I'll have it in my hands Tuesday. Since I've now explored every inch of the pcb's I don't foresee any more problems. I'll update on Tuesday...

by the way, the bad PIC was my fault - I blew it up somewhere along the way. It worked when I first got it from SmashTV. Don't want anyone to think I just got a bad one  ;)

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