I've actually converted my entire rig over to digital modelling, so I needed one helluva MIDI Foot Controller. Unfortunately I wasn't able to find what I wanted on the market, so I set about building my own.
Here were my requirements:
- atleast 3 or more foot switches for sending MIDI CC (to change effects on and off)
- two foot switches for sending program/preset changes. I.e. previous/next.
- a couple knobs*
- a graphics display that doesn't look like 1990s technology
- the abilty to program labels into presets.**
- the abilty to configure the device (and labels) using a modern app on my phone.***
- supports an external footswitch or expression pedal
- supports latching or momentary switching
* - I have to have knobs. I'm trying to seamlessly replace a complicated pedalboard. I need knobs to tweak effects just like on the real pedal. Why the hell do MIDI foot controllers have way too many switches, but ZERO knobs!
** - I will not remember what switch '2' on preset '8' does. I want the display to use real names for the preset (like song names) and some kind of label that tells me what the switch does, like "DY" for delay. I do not want to use a piece of paper and a secret decoder ring to figure it out in the middle of a show.
*** - I want to setup and label all my effects and preset names according to my setlist on my phone or computer then just program it to the device. I'm not gonna use that 'spin-the-knob-and-set-one-letter-at-a-time' to enter names.
It took about 2 years of hardware and software design but it's finally done. I've been using it every week with my band for about 1.5 years, from first functional prototype to final design.
What do you guys think?
Here's a picture of three sample screens from the device on the left, and what the app looks like on the right when you build a setlist. The EFX Control screen sets the preset name at the top (in this case it's my 'default chorus' preset, as well as showing the value of all three knobs, and has indicators for the four programmable switch settings (not all four are shown in this example). While you are turning a knob it switches to a circular graphic with indicator to give the feel more of tweaking a knob, and less setting the time on a digital clock.
- the two stomp switches to navigate and activate the next/previous preset.
- central knob functions as a toggle between Preset Navigation and EFX Control modes/screens.
- in EFX control mode both stomp switches can control effects, plus 2 of the 3 knobs also have built in push buttons for toggling additional effects. All 3 knobs are available to control effects as well like volume, gain, etc.
- an external jack for either an expression pedal or an external footswitch
- all stomps, pushbuttons and external footswitch can be configured for latching or momentary operation.
- Preset Builder application runs on Windows or Android
- programming and backup of presets is done over the MIDI cables themselves.
I've also got a new article and blog post about how this MIDI foot controller integrates into controlling my entire gigging rig.
Build A Live Software Rig http://blackaddr.com/articles/
Live Sound - Man In The Box http://blackaddr.com/2017/01/13/live-sound-man-in-the-box/