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Midi Stack

Categories: Hardware Prototypes/Non-Commercial products

Submitted by:Nicholas Talian

10 May 2022

Elevator Pitch

Midi Stack

The Midi Stack is a modular, stand-alone hardware system for playing and visualizing standard Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) files.

Product Description

Midi Stack

Project Summary: The Midi Stack is a modular, stand-alone system for playing back of standard Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) files. Although the initial concept for this project entailed crafting of a single monolithic device, my plans ultimately expanded to build multiple interconnected modules arranged in a vertical stack. Each audio component was designed to serve a specific purpose and to perform a distinct task. More details about each module are shown below. Midi Player Features & Specifications: Custom-built half-rack aluminum enclosure matches aesthetic of existing stereo components Metro M4 Grand Central Central Processing Unit Laser-engraved front panel and transparent acrylic cutouts Micro SD Card Mass Storage and Filesystem Backlit 20x4 LCD Display screen Eight Backlit LED tactile pushbutton switches and interface Printed Circuit Board (PCB) Rotary encoder knob with built-in LED Backlight (full RGB color) 5-Pin DIN Midi Output port IR Sensor for Remote Control Midi Visualizer Module Description: The Midi Visualizer is a custom-built hardware computing device designed to visualize MIDI music signals transmitted using the standard Midi transmission protocol. The objective is to provide a dynamic and engaging real-time visualization of musical notes, akin to a Midi synthesizer light board, or commonly available screensaver software, in a self-contained application-specific hardware device, thus avoiding the hassle associated with constant maintenance required of consumer grade operating system software. Features instant-on capability and provides audio inputs for possible future expansion of audio waveform sampling and analysis, such as a graphic equalizer or oscilloscope. Midi Visualizer Features & Specifications: Adafruit M4 Metro Express Arduino-compatible CPU Half-rack width custom-built enclosure built from LEGO building blocks 64x32 RGB LED Display Matrix – 3mm pitch Adafruit RGB Matrix Shield for Arduino 5-pin DIN Midi Input port (connected to Arduino serial input pins via optoisolator ) Brightness controlled via Midi SysEx messages About the Midi Power Supply: The Midi Power Supply is a custom-built Power Supply for the Midi Stack. It eliminates the need for multiple power adapters and provides status information about the current electrical power consumption while maintaining consistency with the overall design ethos of the other components. Midi Stereo Speakers: These custom-built Stereo Speakers permit operation of the Midi Stack as a fully-independent, consolidated audio system with integrated amplification of the input signal. Midi Stereo Speakers Technical Specifications: Custom-built enclosure using LEGO building blocks Audio input connector: 3.5mm stereo headphone jack Output power: 10W + 10 W (8Ω) Operating voltage: 12VDC

How It's Innovative

The Midi Visualizer is a custom-built hardware computing device designed to visualize MIDI music signals transmitted using the standard Midi transmission protocol. The objective is to provide a dynamic and engaging real-time visualization of musical notes, akin to a Midi synthesizer light board, or commonly available screensaver software, in a self-contained application-specific hardware device, thus avoiding the hassle associated with constant maintenance required of consumer grade operating system software. Features instant-on capability and provides audio inputs for possible future expansion of audio waveform sampling and analysis, such as a graphic equalizer or oscilloscope. Unlike existing MIDI playback software, which depend on constant network connectivity or internet access, this system is completely stand-alone and independent. Furthermore, the open hardware and software architecture (Arduino micro controller and off-the-shelf electronic components) allows for future enhancements and upgrades via firmware updates.

Most Inspiring Use Cases

Because there are so many controls and settings, from changing the tempo and cadence, to changing the synthesized instruments being reproduced, the Midi Stack encourages the user to ACTIVELY ENGAGE with the LIVE MUSICAL PERFORMANCE, not just PASSIVELY listen to per-recorded tracks. There is also an educational aspect to this as well, because it teaches users about the nature of music creativity and sound manipulation, engaging more of the human sensory apparatus, thereby inspiring the next generation of musicians and artists and technical innovators.

Expansion Plans

Create new dynamic graphical visualizations for the Midi Visualizer (software updates)

Commercialization

None currently but I would be interested in pursuing this at a future date if there is sufficient public interest in my technical invention.