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.
This looks great!
Any info about how to get one happening?
Hi Ben, I´m glad you like it. At the momment I´m quoting the device with a German manufacturer and I hope to have some prices and information in the next weeks…
Hopefully this summer we will have a design for selling, so keep an eye on the website or facebook, I will publish info as soon as I have it!
Looks like a great alternative to the kenton Midi-USB device.
Hope to hear when its available. Cheers
Hello Andrew, It’s actually a great alternative to the Kenton device, It’s the reason why I built it, I contact them and they couldn’t confirm many devices to be working correctly…
I really hope to have some news from the Manufacturer soon, keep an eye here in the site or in my facebook page (link at the top right of the page) where I upload the information often.
Look forward to have some news soon! All the best!
Nice. Really limited options for hooking USB to Midi hardware directly.
But what Kenton are asking just isn’t worth the asking price.
Even the IConnect Midi2+ is cheaper, but too bulky & excessive features for my needs.
I avoid FB but have bookmarked this page for news.
Hi Andrew, you are right. Main problem with the Kenton in my opinion is that it doesnt allow more than one USB-MIDI device, which makes it extremely limited. It´s being demostrated aswel that KMI QuNeo and many new devices, wont work with the Kenton MIDI…
I also read somewhere online, that the MIDI INPUT doens´t work propperly in all devices… so all this issues makes it a bad choice for 100€. Talk soon! Cheers!
Sr inspektorgadjet me da gusto que usted tuvo la idea de hacer un dispositivo asi, por ejemplo he buscado por todos lados algo asi para quitar la comp de en medio, por ejemplo pienso conectar un Microbrute ya vez que no tiene salida midi a un Waldorf Micro Q, ya vez que no hacepta USB. Y para gastar 140 Dlls en un dispositivo que haga la misma funcion de convertir USB a midi se me hace tan ridiculo. Si usted crea este dispositivo, todos los CC tambien pasarian al lado de MIDI? no importa que tenga una salida de midi pero que no salga tan caro, lo felicito.
Muchas gracias por su mensaje.
Estas en lo correcto, todos los datos MIDI, notas, Sysex, Program Change, CC… son convertidos hacia la salida MIDI automáticamente.
Me alegro de que te guste, muy pronto tendremos mas información sobre precios y disponibilidad.
Genial el convertidor que has realizado. Con muchas ganas de que lo tengas disponible para adquirir uno para usar con mi Elektron Analog Four.
PD: Si ya supieras manera de crear uno para convertir CV a Midi seria la re ostia y fijo que muchos usuarios de la A4 lo pillarian para aprovechar el canal CV.
Hola Ales Pardo, me alegro mucho de que te guste CerebelUSB, espero tener noticias sobre su disponibilidad muy pronto. Por ahora no me ha hecho falta pero quizas en un futuro no muy lejano, realice un convertidor MIDI-CV bidireccional. Un saludo!
this looks amazing,
in addition to the physical production units will you be sharing the arduino code? would love to learn more about custom programming these things myself
Hi duncan speakman, I´m glad you like it!
To answer your question YES! I will be releasing the Sketch and Libraries as this are already Open Source. The idea is to make it hackable and upgradeable, I´m building the device as a shield with an Arduino Pro Mini, so the user can access easily, reprogram the Arduino and try their own Sketches. Cheers!
Yeah, I’m very interested in this. Very neat indeed. Intrigued.
Hi Bill, sorry for the delay. Thanks for your interest in the project. I will be recieving first prototype Within these weeeks, so final testing is near! Cheers!
This is an amazing gadget. When are you planning to publish the details. ?
Hello! I will be releasing all the details and code once the final tests are completed. Will be uploading you guys with info as soon as I can. All the best!
Enhorabuena por el invento, es increíble que no haya algo así por ahí desde hace años con la cantidad de gadgets MIDI-USB que existen.
¿Piensas liberar el código y los componentes del proyecto?. Tengo un Arduino Duemilanove muerto de risa al que podría sacar partido… Si no, lo compraré en cuanto lo saques a la venta, pero también me pica el gusanillo de montarlo, ya sabes ;)
Perdona por tardar tanto en contestar, pero estoy saturado de trabajo… y llevo dias sin conectarme a internet… En cuanto el aparato salga a la venta, liberare codigo y esquemas… Espero que sea pronto! Un saludo!
Anything new here?
Hello Doerg, I wish I could give you guys more info… but I´m having a hard time doing all by myself…
Hope to have some relevant info soon. Cheers.
WOW!! la solución que esperaba. Te felicito
Somos varios los expectante para cuando liberes el código y poder probar.
Hola Koan, me alegro de que estes interesado! Dentro de poco habra mas información! saludos!
Just a head up to say i still check this page every month to see where things are at.
Blame it on the lack of quality new controllers that have usb only :(
Motivational speech 2c over ;)
Hi Andrew, thanks! Looking forward to finish testing and releasing the first ones soon. Cheers!
It has been a month since the last update.
any progress so far ?
Hi, yes there is progress. Unfortunately, this month is beeing extremely stressfull, so sorry for not posting more info… I had to give priority to other projects as I´m attending NAMM Show 2015 with Mode Machines. A new CerebelUSB prototype have been sent to manufacturing company, for developing a new PCBA and case, hopefully will be ready after NAMM… all the best.
Wow, I have been looking for something like this. Definitely bookmarking this page and looking forward to hearing how this turns out. Great work!
Hello Konstantine, thanks for your words!. I will be upgrading the information on this project very soon, as we changed our manufacturer due to some improvements needed. So keep an eye here and facebook, all the best!
A new update would be great @inspektorgadjet :)
Hi, We have decided to change the enclosure to alluminum, much nicer and durable. The new cases are coming from Asia so we are waiting for the Chineese Hollidays to finish (1st of March). April will be a busy month with Musikmesse preparations but I will make sure to post any relevant info or pictures in the facebook page. Cheers!
OMG this is great! You are genius!! )
I just buy an electronic drumkit for my son.
So we want to connect it to XBOX for playing RockBand3 in PRO mode.
I’m even got a MIDI-Pro converter from MadCatz.
But unlucki it has only regular MIDI in and drum module has onlu usb-midi out.
So we need a usb-midi-host device.
Kenton MIDI USB Host “quite” expensive with its functionality.
iConnectMIDI – discontinued
iConnectMIDI2+ – haven’t this function
iConnectMIDI4+ – more expensive than Kenton device…
I wonder if someone decide “to invent” similar device… on humane price.
God bless You, Julian Calvo Orquin! )))
Can’t wait for it!
I’m just ready buy a prototype ))
Hello Dimitri, Im glad you like the idea. Let´s hope our final price is clsose enough to your “Human price” :). all the best and thanks for your words.
@inspektorgadjet isn’t this going to increase the cost of the unit ?
Hi, No… In fact it should be less, the plastic molding of the first case was ridiculously expensive. This alluminum cases are standard sizes, so no molding required… Hope it helps. Cheers.
Cuando crées tenerlo disponible? És una idea muy buena y falta algo así sin dudas.
Hola, si te fijas en los mensajes en Ingles la carcasa esta siendo rediseñada en aluminio, pronto habran noticias nuevas. Un saludo!
Looking forward to seeing this develop! Any chance you could add a battery power option?
Hello, the problem of battery powering this unit is that many USB devices will drawn more power than others, specially using the Hub functionallity, this will ran out very quick, not Ideal for LIVE Performances and serious setups. I built this unit to use USB-MIDI with no Laptops on stage, it aims to be as portable as possible allowing many USB Devices to be connected, and batteries makes things bulky.
Anyway, if you really need a Battery Powered system, there is plenty of alternatives on ebay or similar. To show an example: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/5V-USB-18650-Battery-Charger-Smartphone-External-Backup-Power-Bank-DIY-Box-Case-/301277694192?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_3&var=&hash=item46258cc8f0
Hope it helps
Is there any news from manufacturers?
P.S.: We believe in you!! :)
Hi Dimitri, the manufacturers are sending me the new PCBA for testing. Once confirmed that works, will prepare graphics for the new enclosure. It´s nearly there!! so thanks for “Believing in me!! :)
All the best!
Will we see any proto or demo unit at MusikMesse ?
Hi, yes it was, sorry for the late reply but I was in Frankfurt for Messe, since monday the 13th till yesterday :) … There are good news though, I just recieved the new PCBA and they work perfect, so silkscreenwork is on the way and soon we will have the first units :)
That’s a great news! :)
Can I make preorder?
Hi dimitri. No preorder yet I´m afraid.
Is there any chance of a dual version, so you could use the MIDI In (for example to sync it from another device’s MIDI clock) and MIDI Out of a USB-only device at the same time?
Hi, My original idea was to do it bidirectional, and it works but a problem appears when using the USB Hub functionallity. All the devices connected to the Hub will recieve the MIDI IN data stream aswel and this is not convenient in many situations.
So the option would be have either, MIDI Out and HUB option… or Bidirectional without Hub option.
I choose the first one (that also was my final prototype) but there is allways a DIY option…
We have planned to release a second device with Bidirectional functionallity plus CV, Gate and Dyn Sync. Hope it helps!
Looking forward to this, please let me know when I can order.
I will let everyone now here in my site, comments and facebook. Cheers!
es el mismo?: http://www.juno.co.uk/products/mode-machines-cerebel-usb-to-midi-controller/564328-01/
No tengo ni idea de que es eso, lo siento :). Aun no hay anunciado precio ni fecha.. Pero sera pronto!
Looking forward to this! It’s about time a product came out that competes with Kenton’s MIDI USB Host. Any updates since a couple of weeks ago on the progress or ETA when you can start taking pre-orders? Thank you for all of your hard work!
Hello Brian, we are getting very close to release date, at the momment we don´t have any plans of making preorders but if we do I will post it here and Facebook page. Thanks for your words and looking forward to it to!!!
Yet another month under “very close” slogan (((
Well I would lie to you if I say is not close. Sorry for the inconvenience but believe me when I say I´m the first one interested in releasing it. Hope to have more specific dates soon, cheers.
Hola!! extremadamente necesario el gadget que estás creando!! te felicito!. Espero que llegue a buen puerto para poder tener uno!!
Muchas gracias por tus pablabras Kofla. Esta muy cerca de ser una realidad disponible para todo el mundo. Saludos!
I wanted to ask if there are any news on release. Thank you!
Hello Dan, assembling of the first 100 units its already happening. Cannot guarantee but I guess end of July, middle of august might be the time for first available units. Cheers, Julian
Inform me please, when your device will be done. I’m interested to buy (If I will not buy Kenton before that time…)
Hi Serge, This summer the device will be available. If you are in a hurry go and buy the Kenton one. This is no competition and pressure is not going to speed things up. Cheers,Julian
Very interested by the project. I have to hook 3 USB controllers to 5pin in.Will buy one for sure, because it does exactly what I’m looking for.
Hello Bruno, glad to hear you found what you need! Yeah so far I managed to connect 8 units using a USB HUB… Im looking forward to deliver it :) Cheers, Julian
Hi Julian, this summer or even July is great news! I was happy finding your superb little device and have been watching this site for quite some time now. I would like to use my ‘Akai MPK mini Mk2’ (why the f… do they not build in Midiports anymore?!) to play an analog synthesizer module at home and a small modified portable synth wherever I am (all on occasional leisure moments, I am not a musician and actually more into stringed instruments). So actually I was hoping for possible battery operation. This would have made another real difference to the Kenton thing. But you’ve answered that question already and as mentioned I am really looking forward to your invention. Greets from Berlin, J.
Hi J. I have no idea why MIDI connectors went out of fashion, while Keeping the same protocol but using USB… I suposse is the ammount of people using laptops and not so many like us avoiding them on stage or for playing music… Regarding the battery operation, I suposse you could try some of e-bay USB portable 5V batteries. Depending on the controller you want to use, some might last very long time… others with more LEDs or LCD screens wont last too long… Hope it helps!!… and actually, I´m playing this friday 11th at 00:00 in Berlin, on Freqs Of Nature Festival :) Greetings from Spain!
Will it be cheaper than Kenton?
Hello Alexander, it’s been asked and answered before. My plan was to release it under 80 euros, to be exact I wanted to sell it for 75 euros. However after shipping, packaging and many aspects not sure what will happen, it doenst depend on me anymore. The Kenton USB Host costs 125 euros (or 85 pounds), so yeah it will be cheaper. CerebelUSB allows a HUB too, which means you can connect more than one device.
I was going to buy the Kenton, then I found that my controller KMI Quneo will not work with it, so I build CerebelUSB. Hope it helps!
Thanks for the hint. I am looking forward to find out how long the Akai lasts with 5V portable.
Didn’t know about the Freqs Festival – certainly sounds good, hope it was fun.
Hey J. yeah the festival was great!!… Im sure those small Batteries wont last a lot… some MIDI Controllers just have an LED and they dont consume much, so they will last…. however if you want to make sure, best thing would be to get a better/nicer 5V… a bit like this ones:
Hello Everybody! CerebelUSB is going to be on PRESALE in a few days trough Modemachines Online Shop.
Only 100 units for now, shipping from 3rd to 4th week of September (Im really pushing to get it faster but… will write a post about my Odissey with this project).
I wanted to comment it here as many people have been following this project from its early stage and have been waiting for long!! So keep an eye in Modemachines Facebook page, I will post the link here too anyway!
CerebelUSB is out on PRESALE with Free Shipping!!
Only 100 units available exclusively through our Online shop.
Get yours! …
Thanks! finally the first release!
Not planning to open-source the design?
Dont you want to support the project first? There is plenty of info already on the net (and this website) if you want to DIY one yourself. It´s been said that there will be alternative firmwares, tutorials to hack the unit and add MIDI IN, plus based in arduino so you can consider the unit as being open to upgrades.
Hey Julian, sorry to offend you that way – I’m a maker and just wanted to know if I could build this at home. I sincerely appreciate all the hard work you’ve put into this. However my push has been lying untouched for a few months now as I don’t have a PC. I wanna know if this would work with Push, using it as a multichannel step sequencer? I guess all functionality of push is actually provided by Live, so not sure if it would play well!
Hi!, No ofense taken, I normally tend to thank people a lot when they share and I like write longer mesages… so finding one line mesages asking for Free stuff just gets on my nerves some times. Is like the more Free things I give the less people thanks the effort… Anyway as said in this post, there is plenty of info around if you want to DIY yours. I built three prototipes based in Arduino, all with a cost of 60-80€ + Hours or work, it might vary depening on the enclosure you choose, so the final 99€ price I think is very appealing to me :) That is the reason why I couldnt build this project alone and ended up licensing trough Mode Machines. Hope it helps! All the best, Julian
hmm… i’m trying to build something like yours great “cerebell midi host” by myself.
now i have Arduino Leonardo ($12) and USB shield (another 12$) and some free software library.
I wonder where your can find 80 euro?
P.S.: there is a Kenton device at my local store – approx 90 euro.
As said before this is not competition of any sort. Once you finalize your PCB with MIDI interface and enclosure, + USB cables, charger and all the bits an bobs, price goes up, but hey congratullations in building yours. All the best ;)
Hi, great product. I’m after something like this but it needs to be battery powered as it’s to be used as part of a wireless set, using a wireless midi beam etc as well. Is there any plans to make this battery powered?
Hi, please follow this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uiteW25wnWA
The device works perfect with Smartphone Portable USB chargers, I used a very basic one like the one in the video for 7 days and still working :) for 2$ in ebay you can´t go wrong.
Could this idea possibly be expanded to include multiple midi outputs…reason being that I have USB MIDI out of a Cirklon that I would love to turn into multiple physical MIDI ports…
Also, what is the MIDI latency through a single unit?
Great work, thanks :)
Hi, In order to have multiple MIDI outputs you would need either multiple MIDI Inputs, or a way to select what channel goes to what output. At the momment is one single MIDI out with its 16 Channels… The projects is weel explained and part DIY/Hackable, so for sure you can implement other things. This is a Mode Machines project now so I can guarantee what direction will take.
Hei man, Amazing work there! THANK YOU for supporting independent electronic musicians with your handy creations.
I have a question. Have you tested it with the Midi Fighter Twister?
Hello Raphael and thanks for your words. Unfortunately I didnt have the chance to test it with MIDI Fighter units. The list of compatible units it´s being constantly updated in modemachines website or online shop. Hope it helps! https://supr.com/mode-machines/products/cerebelusb-usb/
Has anybody successfully used this interface with the AKAI EWI USB Wind Controller? – On the CerebelUSB website I see several AKAI products listed (APC-20/40) – but nothing listed specifically about the EWI (pro or con).
Nice work BTW !
No need to insult me – I did post my question here once and on your FB page (once) – Don’t waste time on my question – I’ve already found a work around with another product – Thank You.
Who has insulted you? I only said to comunicate with me via PM, instead you cpoy and pasted same message here and facebook, sorry if it has bothered you and glad you have your issue sorted :)
I was looking forward to this for a year or two, ended up having to go with the Kenton USB unit… only because it has a midi in as well, allowing for visual feedback back to the midi controller. Love the idea though, hoping for a v2 that has this functionality.
Hello Andrew, I complitely understand. Unfortunately it took a lot longer than I expected too, but how companies decide to do their things, its totally out of my hands. The device still can be “hacked” to add MIDI In though… I really dont want to go through the process of a V2, but who knows…
I use it with Akai lpk25 and modular synth
(Yarns of mutable instruments )
Simple GREAT !!!!!
Glad this invention has help you in your setup!
Your words mean a lot to me :) Thanks!
Please post here any links to video demo of the combo, would be awsome!
Happy cable time!
The shop isn’t working for me, is this still for sale?
Also, is it possible to modify the source for advanced filtering and mapping?
I was hoping to use this to control a Korg Kaossilator with a usb midi keyboard. The Kaossilator uses CC not note messages (yup, weird) for playing sounds.
I think they have changed their website and now the shop is there.
Visit http://www.modemachines.com for more info.
The internal Microprocessor is Arduino Pro Mini, so if you upgrade your own firmware should be easy.
Hope it helps!
Considering the potential of this little box, I was wondering why there is such poor documentation available. The announced comatibility list for the v2 Isn’t available anywhere and there is zero information about what is needed to get me started in developing my own firmware implementations. Are there any libraries available which implement cerebel specific helpers or callbacks so I can easily hook into things without reinventing the wheel? I respect the fact zhaz this is a closed source project but leaving developers completely in the rain is sad. No offence!! :) Sure, Cerebel USB was not devoloped exclusively for being extendable. I’m asking since I’m building a lot of stuff for the RK002 by Retrokits. I have a Cerebel v2 and a lot of unused USB gear like arcade controllers lying around and was wondering if I can breath new life in those boxes by extendnng the Cerebel and use them in my performances.
Thanks for your work! It’s a great box. If you could point me to some development resource to get me started, I’d be a very happy man!
Keep up the great work,
First of all thanks for the kind words!
The main reason for not having so much documentation online is due to the very little promotion and marketing that has been done… believe me when I say it breaks my heart…
When I first made this device (for my personal use only), it just worked, I had complete control of hardware and software and changing firmware was super easy… I also planned to make it open source, since that is how I am, but had to wait due to the company wanting to maintain closed source status, which makes sense too.
At the end I only received payment for prototyping it, and sadly I haven’t been part of Mode machines for years, that makes me think about trying to make new tutorials, release a compatible firmware and write some posts pointing to external libraries… which was my original intention anyway.
Please contact me privately using the contact form and I will point you to some stuff, maybe you can help me test stuff and add the info here in case other users can benefit from it too…
Thanks again and sorry if the information was scarce.
Little addition. Where can i find the latest flashable Cerebel v2 Firmware? What happens if I flash my own FW and want to go back to the original one? Do I have to read out the firmwre myself before flashiing my own? Sorry for asking that many questions… :)
Do not worry about asking questions! :)
Please let me check and ask to make sure, alternatively you could try flashing new firmwares to a new Arduino board instead, in case something fails.
Remember this is the Arduino Pro Mini 3.3V, and not the 5V one.
PS: Please contact me personally and I can give you some more info.