Custom DIY Machinedrum controller - "MuteBox"


Based on some interest shown in Moving to next pattern, I would like to share some details about a side-project of mine.
Quoting my original post in that thread about this controller:

I am actually working on a MIDI controller to connect to my MD that would allow me to hit a single button to queue up the next pattern.
It also includes 16 buttons for toggling mutes, and 2 pots per part so provide quick access to 2 selected part parameters per pattern.
Here’s a picture of the work-in-progress for whoever’s interested:
This will be open-source, so happy to share if anyone is interested. Currently the hardware ± works and am waiting for my first attempt of an Acrylic case. Should arrive next week

Some more information about it:
[li]To control pattern, mutes and track parameters it does not need to use SysEx - the MD allows pattern change via notes/program change (I am currently using Program Change messages), and mutes/track parameters are easily controllable via standard CC messages[/li]
[li]This is a non-profit, open-source project, based on the Midibox ( software. The hardware is mostly custom and currently consists of a few boards: The [url=“”]STM32F4 discovery board which holds the CPU and USB interface, a Main “motherboard” that has the MIDI connectors (2 IN, 2 OUT), a board that has a 20x2 character LCD, a few utility buttons and a rotary encoder, and two “user interface” boards, each having 8 pushbuttons with LEDs and 16 analog potentiometers. The current hardware revision is a bit buggy, and I will be creating a new revision. I think that for the new revision I will only be making a single board with everything on it. I originally went for a few separate boards to reduce my costs in case a board ends up being unusable (I could do a second iteration on just one board instead of the entire thing), as well as with the hopes I (or anyone else) could reuse them in future projects. Unfortunately this complicates the mechanical side of the project, as well as add costs in connectors and interconnect cables between the boards. I still need to think about this. I am also debating on whether to get rid of the STM32F4 discovery or not - I am not using most of its features (cheapo audio out - this might actually be interesting, accelerometer, maybe other things I forgot about) and it is taking up space and complicating the design. It does however spare me from soldering LQFP100 chips which is annoying, has a builtin JTAG interface (the thing you use to program the CPU) and also to my surprise they cost almost as much as the entire module in low quantities.[/li]
[li]I made my first attempt at manufacturing an Acrylic case similar to Mutable Instruments Shruthi’s case. It should arrive next week, will update when it does - hopefully everything will fit in. It is slightly bigger than necessary to increase the chances of that happening.[/li]
[li]Regarding a kit - I will happily provide one if there is interest. I will also happily cooperate with people on this project if anyone is interested in contributing in any way. It would actually make more sense once I switch to a single PCB because assembling would be slightly easier. The one thing I do want to warn about this design is that I use SMT components which not everyone consider DIY friendly (I hand-solder them and it is definitely doable with some practice!). I could offer board with the more annoying ones pre-soldered if there is interest - but we’re still far away from this point. I will not be offering a kit until I am confident in the hardware design, but in the meanwhile I can happily sell spare boards of next revisions to people interested in that and capable of figuring some things on their own (because documentation is obviously very lacking at this stage).[/li]
[li]This can be used for many more things than just muting and tweaking some parameters on a MD. In addition to its 2 pairs of physical MIDI IN/OUT ports, it supports MIDI over standard USB class (no drivers :D), so that can also be used for something. Currently I am only using 1 midi OUT port to command the MD. I was thinking about a step-sequencer mode, but I want to complete the hardware before spending more time on the software.[/li]

Happy to answer any questions if you have any :slight_smile:


Cool! I noticed your project on MB forum. Keep up the good work and MB spirit! Count me in for the PCB when it’s ready. I’ll definetly follow your progress.

Got the Acrylic parts today. I mostly got it right in terms of dimensions (pots are a very tight fit, almost too marginal. Buttons cutout is a bit too big unfortunately). This also brought to my attention a major issue - the pots are too close to each-other to be comfortable :frowning:
I believe the next iteration should have them more spaced out, which means a bigger PCB :confused:

Pictures of progress:

Very cool!

Interesting project. I was also thinking about DIY MIDI controller with mute buttons (preferreable with some leds to tell when track is ON…)and maybe few pots to be fixed to CTR8 machine. As thin as possible to fit into full gig bag and some kind of MIDI thru possibility (I use Octatrack as main sequencer, so it just controls transport and pgm changes of MD)

would have benn even wonderful ,if it had direct pot for controling the delay and reverb!!

Agreed on the dedicated knobs!
The project was on hold due to personal reasons, but last week I resumed work and am currently awaiting on some components and tools to continue developing it. The original prototype seen above uses buttons that are too expensive and relatively big, I am looking into other options.
Unfortunately I am pretty busy these days so if this happens it is going to take some time…

Good to see some proper switches :+1: