CEREBEL-USB: USB to MIDI Converter
In one of my odysseys to find the definitive Live set, I decided to try the impossible!! xD… Now seriously, this project is one of the most interesting, simple yet difficult projects I’ve ever come across. Because life is hard, but full of beauties… I feel inspired today… :)
Like many of you, I have been bombarded in recent years with affordable DJ controllers, studio or esoteric USB-MIDI controllers. I’m talking about those live friendly gadgets, full of beautiful LEDs, potentiometers, buttons… the problem is that 90% of them, they don’t have more than a USB connector so they are useless for me.
It’s a shame, but the truth is that the current market is very focused on DJs and live shows with a laptop and a minimal setup, without offending anyone, but these limitations make people like me, who don’t use a laptop on stage, unable to enjoy these affordable, transportable and useful gadgets in our setup…
Modular synthesizers, analog modules, old computers, retro video games or circuit bending devices can all benefit from a small device like this.
USB to MIDI:
I have a friend who is studying engineering and programming, we were talking about this idea that I have to transform devices with USB MIDI to a standard 5-pin Din connector. He doesn’t understand my obsession with avoiding the computer, so we argue… nothing dodgy but you know… again, I was alone in the dark of dense coding…
The good thing is that it was relatively easy to find enough information on the Internet about how to use Arduino as a Host and I started to try things that I had around like controllers, keyboards, joysticks, wiimotes…
It’s a fun project because you’re not limited to listening to USB-MIDI devices but other USB peripherals like cameras, Wii controllers, USB devices, keyboards, mice, joysticks and definitely anything with USB, so it’s good for experimenting with strangers. and cheap gadgets.
USB HUB – MIDI Merger
One of the most basic but exciting features of the CerebelUSB is that it has HUB functionality, which means nothing more and nothing less that we can use these cheap USB multipliers to increase the number of USB device inputs. This may sound obvious but it means a lot when you think of it as a MIDI MERGER, where all USB-MIDI devices are instantly merged into a single MIDI output.
The price of a standard MIDI MERGE is €50 and up, so considering that USB also supplies power to those devices, you can save a lot on cabling by plugging them all into the USB HUB and getting a single MIDI output… Cool.
At first I made a prototype that was small, but it made me consider making it as small as possible. The whole idea revolves around saving space and using smaller devices so they can be easily transported in a Live set, so CerebelUSB would have to be as small as possible, almost like a converter between cables.
I love LEDs so why not?! I decided to add a small LED to show the flow of MIDI out. As soon as the data is received over the USB and is transformed into “old school” MIDI, the LED will light up, very useful for troubleshooting or just a perfect ally to visualize MIDI events in low light environments…
5V Power supply:
The device is designed using 5V in mind, all connected USB devices expect 5V input so this must be respected for proper operation. The Arduino brain (pro mini 3.3v) admits from 3 to 12V so the device will work correctly within this range… BUT… as I said before the USB standard is 5V and applying more to some devices could mean damaging it … This is obvious but it is better to avoid any risk and use a 5V DC source.
More information and video soon!
The following video is of the first working prototype with larger size.
I wish you the best! from the intergalactic confederation.
Over and out.