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MIDI Dashboard

Categories: Hardware Prototypes/Non-Commercial products

Submitted by:Tom Dowad

10 May 2022

Elevator Pitch

MIDI Dashboard

A 1U rack mount device for viewing MIDI data on full-colour displays

Product Description

MIDI Dashboard

The MIDI Dashboard is a rack-mountable hardware device that translates MIDI messages into information displays. Eight full-colour, high resolution screens can be driven based upon received MIDI data. The first firmware implementation simulates analog VU meters which respond to MIDI Control Change messages. This is simply taking the value for a particular controller, in the range 0-127, and translating that into a needle angle. The needle is overlaid on a PNG image licensed from a stock photo website. Creating new display types entails expanding the drawing capabilities of the microcontroller, creating PNG background images, and mapping the particulars of each message type received into a drawing routine specific to the message.

I envision having multiple graphical displays for each type of MIDI message, selected either with a front panel control or MIDI 2.0 property messages. The device hardware consists of 8 x 240 x 240 pixel full-spectrum colour displays, mounted on a custom carrying board. The microcontroller is a Teensy 4.0, a powerful ARM M7 embedded processor. Other custom boards include a breakout board for the Teensy, a MIDI DIN input module, and a USB pass-through that provides power via a USB-B connector. Arduino was used for creating the firmware. For testing, other hardware was developed to output MIDI Control Change messages in response to audio signals, and some code generating varying CC messages automatically.

How It's Innovative

The primary innovation is the packaging of multiple small colour displays into the rack form factor.

Most Inspiring Use Cases

The device is intended to display many different kinds of information as received from MIDI messages.

MIDI channel messages, time code, Machine Control, Show Control, and so on, could each have their own particular display forms.

Various kinds of metering could be performed based upon Control Change messages, in particular with the higher resolution afforded by MIDI 2.0. Adding a MIDI DIN out port (or Ethernet, or USB), the configuration of each display could be performed using MIDI 2.0 CI and property messaging. An auto-configure mode could assign message types to displays according to what messages were detected on the MIDI input.

Expansion Plans

More screen options, more graphics, more MIDI message types, MIDI CI configuration, Ethernet, front panel control...

Commercialization

None at the moment. I am interested to learn whether this idea is of interest to the MIDI community. If so, I will carry it forward.