This is the first post in a series of small projects for retrofitting my JEN SX-1000 monosynth with a simple and cheap MIDI interface controller. Read about the basic idea here. Today, I am designing and building the micro-controller brain of the Jenny retrofit – if you are capable of basic soldering, it should not take you more than two hours and a couple of very common electronic parts.
Building my own wheels for the Launchpad Pro – once again, with style.
Two weeks ago, I started a little sunday afternoon project, sucessfully building my first own MIDI controller – a pitch bend/mod wheel/midi merge device to serve as a companion to my new Launchpad Pro. Using an Arduino, a prototyping board by SparkFun, and community-made code, I succeeded with surprisingly little effort – the most time-consuming part was finding and fixing the errors I had clumsily soldered into my pathetic excuse for a MIDI interface. But it worked!
As they say, the worst thing that can happen is that you succeed. The quick and easy success made me hungry for more – I started a MIDIfication project for my JEN SX-1000 monophonic synth, based on a Teensy, another microcontroller board that can be used within the Arduino development eco-system but is much better suited to MIDI/USB applications.
V2.0: A Teensy-based MIDI controller
This is actually a side project to that. I looked at my self-made controller and noticed that it is usable but not very playable – I wanted real wheels for the Launchpad, not sliders. So I decided to redo a V2.0 of the controller, based on the Teensy.
Isn’t it about time my beloved Jenny got her own MIDI interface?
To be sure, microcontroller-based interfaces for the JEN SX-1000 do exist. Apart from the commercial CV/Gate solutions by Kenton, there is Neil Johnson’s keyboard interface design. But even if you can get hold of the PCB – a supplier in the JEN SX-1000 group on Facebook had a batch made – the design has an intimidating parts list, and takes some serious time to build.
- easy to do (requiring only basic soldering skills, if any)
- easy to get (by using components that you can buy on Amazon if you have to),
- easy to develop (using standard solutions from the Arduino community),
- easy to schedule (because the project is divided up into little steps, each of which is a small afternoon sub-project with instant gratification),
- easy to participate (by contributing own ideas and code for parts of the project).
I will describe the basic layout of the MIDI upgrade kit project here. Each step, i.e. each sub-project, will then be treated in a new post, depending how fast I (or the community) get them done.