Build and customize your very own open-source button grid controller with UNTZtrument! This DIY kit comes with delicious translucent button pads, driver boards, diffused white LEDS and a custom laser cut enclosure. The result is a sturdy and elegant but also super-hackable controller for music, video…or something else???

We designed this kit for ease of use and ultimate flexibility. All you need is an Arduino Leonardo, basic soldering tools and an afternoon. Once assembled and programmed with the Arduino IDE, this box turns into a USB MIDI device that works with any computer and has 64 buttons (128 on the HELLA UNTZtrument) with individually-controllable LEDs. Our example programs send simple MIDI Note On and Off messages, but with a little programming ingenuity you can send and receive any kind of MIDI command. Since its USB MIDI it can work instantly with just about all synth software. Don’t like MIDI? The Arduino Leonardo can also emulate a USB keyboard or plain old USB serial.

Since it's Arduino-powered, adding more stuff like accelerometers, potentiometers, rotary encoders, etc. is straight-forward using existing libraries available on the Internets.

HELLA UNTZtrument ups the ante with 128 LED-backed buttons. It’s huge!

What UNTZtrument is:

  • UNTZtrument is a 64- or 128-button MIDI device that works alongside music software on your computer.
  • It’s a kit, requiring some soldering, a few tools and a little prior experience with the Arduino microcontroller.
  • UNTZtrument is open source. The software is free and you can mix it up to add your own new features, or use code that others have written.

What UNTZtrument is not:

  • UNTZtrument is not a self-contained musical instrument. It generates no audio and must be connected via USB to a computer to either create sounds or forward MIDI data to a synthesizer.
  • UNTZtrument is not a Monome (or Arduinome), but looks similar. Those are serial USB devices requiring a software bridge to the Max visual programming language. UNTZtrument speaks MIDI, which is native to most music software.*

* UNTZtrument could certainly be adapted to be compatible with these…yay for open source…but we’ve found said bridge software to currently be quite finicky. Using MIDI now doesn’t preclude using serial for other things later…we might revisit this as the situation evolves.

Here Collin Cunningham explains the basics of MIDI:

This guide was first published on Jun 20, 2014. It was last updated on Mar 27, 2024.

This page (Overview) was last updated on Jun 03, 2014.

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