mTroll Hybrid MIDI controller

(or How I Spent Summer 2007)
last update: 2023.03.09


More and more musicians are using laptops in their rigs. Wouldn't it be great to harness the power of those laptops to offer greater control capabilities than are usually available in MIDI foot controllers?

Well, yeah, if you're already using a laptop - but you wouldn't want to lose the flexibility that foot control offers either.

Enter a hybrid hardware/software MIDI foot controller. A hybrid system separates the physical interface from the control logic so that the logic can run on a computer. The logic, or engine, is more easily maintainable and updated when it runs as an application on a computer than as firmware in dedicated hardware.

Inspired by exhibits at Maker Faire, I've written a MIDI control engine and have an open source application available for download. And I've assembled a physical interface that is based on the monome logic kit.

Using the monome, you build your own MIDI foot controller but run the brains of the foot controller on a computer. I'm currently running mTroll on a very inexpensive generic Walmart tablet PC running Windows 10 with 2GB RAM.

Neither the hardware nor the software requires a MIDI channel. The controller hardware is powered by the computer via USB, supports 64 physical switches, 64 LEDs, and 4 expression pedals.

If you aren't happy with current MIDI foot control offerings or just want to build one yourself, read on to learn more about my DIY MIDI controller.

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software overview
parts list
process milestones
pictures of hardware during initial construction
software usage / notes
xml data file notes


Bugs, comments, questions? Contact me.