A Portable DIY Midi Controller in Arduino for GR-55 and other Hardware Synths : Part 1

Tutorials / Articles

This Tutorial Series is about a custom Guitar Mountable Midi Controller that I built using Arduino for controlling mainly My Roland GR-55 Guitar Synth as well as my other Hardware/Software Synths..

The Midi Controller has the following features (Based on my Requirements)

  1. 5 Way (value) Switching. ( I am using increment and decrement state buttons here)
  2. Multiple Midi Mappings
  3. At least 3 Knobs / Potentiometers (I am using 6).
  4. At least 2 buttons (Using 4 buttons here S1-S4).
  5. Should be able to Control Parameters not Generally accessible via ASSIGNS in GR-55 (SEND SysEx).
  6. Should be able to run off 9v Battery
  7. Should be Able to power my Yamaha MD-BT01 Midi Bluetooth device.

Required Components

  1. Potentiometers 100k (at-least 10k) X 6
  2. Tactile Push Buttons (Non Latching) X 7
  3. On/Off Switch (Toggle or Push Latching) X 1
  4. 5pin Midi Din Socket (Female Jack) X 1
  5. 9v Battery X 1
  6. 9v Battery Clip connector X 1
  7. Resistors
    1. 1K x 1
    2. 220 ohm x 2
  8. Common Cathode (-ve) RGB LED X 1
  9. Breadboard and Jumper wires for Initial Testing
  10. Perfboard for mounting switches (about 2 should be fine)
  11. Connecting wires (Prefer multicolored wires to keep your sanity in check)
  12. Enclosure for final Build. Prefer a plastic/polycarbonate at first as is light and easier to work with.
  13. Small Screws and Nuts and bolts (useful in mounting).
  14. Arduino Nano. X 1 (if yoiu dont want to go portable yes, you can skip this and just use the arduino UNO board).
  15. Arduino UNO Rev 3 X 1 (Main Arduino board, used for testing as well as flashing optiboot bootloader to Arduino Nano.)
  16. Lots of Patience

If you are new to arduino, I highly recommend getting a decent Arduino Uno Starter Kit as that will contain most of the required components making it much easier for you to source the left overs. for e.g.: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=Arduino+Kit

Required Tools

  • Soldering Iron and Solder Wire
  • Drill or Rotary Tool (I used Dremel with various attachments)
  • Pliers & forceps
  • Screwdriver(s)
  • Cutting Blades / Xacto Knife
  • A Ruler or Caliper for taking measurements.
  • [optional] Multimeter
  • [optional] Blu-tack. to hold things in place.

Below are the Pinouts and Schematics for your Reference

In Part 2 of this tutorial I will explain the functions of different components as well as connections. Stay Tuned!!


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