DIY MIDI fx looper/amp switcher/analogue fx controller – how to drive potentiometer and switches in guitar pedals via arduino
Hey there DIY, due to limited to no experience with this specific topic and no resources found online to exactly this topic, I have turned to you crazy and amazing people for help
First, I'll say a slight bit about the project itself, then something about myself, and lastly I'll give a more detailed description of my project and what I'm planning to achieve.
The project – general info Any of you who play guitar and – like me – like the analogue effect world with analogue amplifiers etc. will know what it's like, to switch from a high gain sound with a delay, phaser and tube screamer or similar booster on, to a clean sound with maybe a chorus, some seeing reverb and a compressor. It's a dang tap dance. And now consider if I want to have multiple guitars in a set. I'll have to change the settings on each of the little stomp boxes to match my now different sounding guitar. It's honestly a pain. Those of you who don't know – let me tell you… This is what a somewhat advanced setup could look like. Specifically mine.
The many many units you see there are all usually individually turned on/off by stepping on them, and during play, it's hard to use your shoes to change toggle switches and potentiometers reliably if you ever want to change their settings and not just the on/off status. As such, I am using a looper – the big black bar at the front. It can be used in two distinct wiring modes, either putting all 8 loops on series, or doing 4/4, with an out and input in between.
There's two things I am not a fan of. This setup is inflexible. I am limited to control over 8 on/off States, or rather 8 bypasses. And the second issue is, that none of this allows me to change the settings on my devices.
SO I took it upon myself to find a perfect solution for myself.
About me I have graduated in computer science with a focus on robotics. My degree was frankly neither here nor there, mixed and torn between the soft- and hardware world. So I'm a jack of all trades, but master of none. Now, as a student, it is much easier to do software hobby projects – hardware is expensive after all, so I've gathered a solid amount of experience in that field, and I'm currently working as a firmware engineer for a smart home device company. So again, I'm somewhere in the middle, leaning towards software knowledge.
My plan/question I have an idea of how I want to lay everything out. At least a basic idea. I want to make each little unit midi controllable, and I want to use Arduino nanos to do the work. With those I can use relays to control the bypass state of any loop. However, the settings issue still remains.
I have now searched a around the internet for a nice way to mechanically control potentiometers – as I don't want to modify the effect pedals themselves. Seems like no one really does that, and I can understand that. It's usually not the smartest way when there are different ways of doing things out there. I, however, would love to go this road for flexibility and most of all to not destroy the effect units. As such I thought that either stepper motors or servo motors would be a great idea to control any potentiometers/switches. I want to concentrate on potentiometers first.
To any of you out there who actually have this kind of knowledge: I've heard that servos produce a lot of heat. And the torque should not be relevant in my application. As such I've thought that servo motors seem better. A simple model vehicle servo motor, controlled via pwm and fed by the Arduino. I'd want to put some Form of gear on those and then put a string/rubber around the gear and the potentiometer. The issue with rubber would probably be imprecision, as I would lose a lot of the accuracy that the motors would give me. Do you think, using string or something similar, this would be possible and feasible? If not, why, and do you have an alternative idea?
Good day, or night, morning or evening to you all c:
Edit: For completeness – I'm in Germany
Submitted April 08, 2021 at 08:12PM by ShingekiNoLoli
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