Here’s a handy little project that is really easy to build and gives great value, either in extending the life of another piece of gear or extending its versatility.
We’ve all probably got a piece of gear that’s joined at the hip to our laptops and DAWs; for me it’s my Arturia BeatStep that I picked up for a song on eBay.
I truly love this piece of kit – it performs a really basic set of functions extremely well, intuitively, with no fuss. But… if you want it to sync to your MIDI clock, you’re pretty much going to have to hook it to a computer via USB as there’s no dedicated MIDI IN port on this device. I’m on a mission to remove my computer from my performance setup, and I’ve built a lovely MIDI and CV Master Clock in order to do this – but I really don’t want to give up or replace my BeatStep.
I discovered that HobbyTronics make a ready-to-go USB/MIDI Host board that can be used to easily add 5-pin-DIN inputs and outputs to a USB-only device. The only caveat is that it doesn’t work with all devices (devices that identify themselves as a USB Hub or that require an additional driver probably won’t work) but the Arturia BeatStep was on the list of known “good” devices so I ordered one.
Getting it up-and-running was very easy – just add a 5V power supply circuit and a MIDI input stage.
I had this thing running in my keyboard rig for a few days just on a breadboard and it behaved great, so I committed the time to making a stripboard for it and ordering an enclosure.
The only even remotely challenging bit in the entire build was cutting a vaguely rectangular opening in the enclosure for the USB connector; other than that, this was a really straightforward job that I’d recommend to anyone who’d find such a gadget useful.
Stripboard layout (flipped)
My panel design and cutting guide are available below as 600dpi PDF files.
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