You’ve got plenty of off-the-shelf controllers – but what if you want something that’s unique to you? OpenDeck is an affordable, young, Arduino-powered controller platform for DIYers, and it’s starting to produce some jaw-dropping results.
There was a time when you needed to build your own stuff to add custom controls to synths and computers, sourcing joysticks and knobs and buttons and whatnot yourself. Doepfer’s Pocket Electronic platform spawned tons of weird and wonderful stuff. But then a lot of people found they were satisfied with a growing assortment of off-the-shelf generic and software-specific controllers, including those from the likes of Ableton, Native Instruments, Novation, and Akai.
But a funny thing happened at the same time. Just as economies of scale and improved microcontroller and development platforms have aided big manufacturers in the intervening years, DIY platforms are getting smarter and easier, too.
Enter OpenDeck. It’s what you’d expect from a current generation platform for gear makers. It supports class-compliant MIDI over USB, but also runs standalone. You can configure it via Web interface. You can plug in buttons and encoders and pots and other inputs and LEDs – but also add displays. You have tons of I/O – 32-64 ins, and 48 outs. But it’s all based on the familiar, friendly Arduino platform – and runs on Arduino and Teensy boards in addition to a custom OpenDeck board.
You get an easy platform that supports all the I/O you need and isn’t hard to code – leaving you to focus on hardware. And it runs on an existing platform rather than forcing you to learn something new.
I’ll take a look at it soon. Because it’s built around MIDI, OpenDeck looks ideal for controller applications, though other solutions now address audio, too.
But platform aside, look how many cool things people are starting to build. With so many stage rigs getting standardized (yawn), it’s nice to see this sort of weird variety … and people who have serious craft. (At least the rest of us can sigh and wish we were this handy, right?)
The very nice-looking OpenDeck custom board is US$149. But you can also load this on much cheaper Arduino boards if you want to give it a test drive or start prototyping before you spring for the full board – and you can even buy pre-configured Arduinos to save yourself some time. (Some of the other boards are also more form efficient if you’re willing to do some additional work designing a board around it.)
Sensimidia, for Croatian dub act “Homegrown Sound.”
Tannin and Ceylon, two MIDI controllers.
Morten Berthelsen built this Elektron Analog controller.
Elektron’s Octatrack gets a custom controller … and foot pedals, too. By Anthony Vogt.
OpenDeck also features open source firmware under a GPLv3 license.
Fully serviced, all tantalum capacitors and some electrolytics replaced, qualibrated and ready to play. Design revisited with brushed aluminium and precious wood work (original plywood parts included for a reverse job if necessary) some of the original knobs replaced ( the original ones will be included ). 4 Vco’s, 2 VCF Multiple EG’s and ramps 3 LFO’s, this monster is also
“The Model D is not included, only for display purposes…
The keybed is included. It came from a used Alesis Q61 controller set to midi channel 1. I am including a power supply for the Q25. You just need a midi cable to connect to the synth. To mount the Model D you have to remove the wood end caps and replace them with the metal ends included with the Model D.”
“It has all blue & white LED’s, custom black rubber sides, custom black back panel. This is unlike any Moog you will ever come across and it sounds just as beautiful as it looks. The mods were done with help from Moog directly, they were great at assisting me with sourcing spare parts and any info I needed to complete this project.