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  1. Jeff
  2. MIDI Hardware
  3. Tuesday, 30 July 2019
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I need to find someone who is good with Midi engineering to help modify a midi foot controller such as the Morningstar MC6. I want to trigger it via a separate midi controller via cc-messages using my fingers instead of foot. I am in the Chicago area- so much the better someone is in this area.

Paid consulting and more.

Thank you
Jeff
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I'm trying to understand what you need here. You have the ubiquitous MC6 controller. It can do anything you need it to do. You can put it up where your hands are and hit the buttons with your fingers. You don't have to use your foot. Velcro it to your keyboard if you need to.

But, whatever CC messages the MC6 is programmed to do, I wouldn't understand how to emulate the controls through another Midi Controller. A Midi controller just sends Midi messages. It doesn't receive Midi messages and then send those Midi messages in its own way. Unless there is some other hardware that does this functionality specifically then I'm at a loss as to the solution for the problem.

The only thing I can think that might do what you need is to download the software MidiPipe by Subtlesoft (Mac only) or some equivalent for Windows. I haven't tried any on Windows so I don't know how one might work but I'm sure there is an equivalent software.

Basically, the software is a wrapper for a Midi Controller and it can take whatever signals the controller sends and convert those particular messages into any message you want. Maybe you could use this for your keyboard and if the MC6 receives Midi messages then you can control what messages to send the MC6 to control it through MidiPipe. But I don't know if that will work since I wouldn't expect any controller to receive Midi messages but only send them.
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Hi Kevin,

Thank you for your kind reply. Sorry for late reply. Does this forum have a setting so I can get email alert when someone replies?

I did get this information from Morningstar that indicates their MC6 does respond to CC messages: Here is the MC6 MkII MIDI implementation chart: https://morningstar-engineering.github.io/MC6-MKII-Midi-Controller/site/09-midi-implementation/ The MC6 can respond to incoming CC messages via USB or 5-pin DIN to trigger its switches.

Kevin: I don't know much of the implications but did have a tech company suggest that having a midi hand controller sending CC messages to virtually push the switches on the MC6 would be the easiest solution.

Does this make any sense to you?

THANK YOU- happy to talk via a phone call if of interest to you...312 953 8728. feel free to call.
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So it comes with the functionality out of the box. That's cool. I took a look and I'd have to read through the manual of the MC6 to know how to do it exactly but I'm certain that you could get any Midi Controller you want and with the MidiPipe by Subtlesoft program (if on a Mac) or some Windows equivalent software, you could send the exact messages you need. If you don't like the idea of having a computer as a stand in for the two controllers then you will have to read the manual of whatever Midi Controller you use to know how to program it internally to send the messages you need.

What it looks like is this:
https://www.midi.org/specifications-old/item/table-3-control-change-messages-data-bytes-2

These are the CC messages. The MC6: CC# is in decimal format so you choose the corresponding decimal value. All you do is pick the knobs and buttons you want to use for the hand controller and program them to send the respective values that the MC6 is looking for relative to its controls. Hook them up, set the Midi In for the MC6 and play and you should see the MC6 do the respective action for each knob you programmed.

All that the MidiPipe program does is make an intuitive interface which can convert the original values of your hand controller into the MC6 values on the fly so you don't have to know how to program the hand controller internally. Possibly a minor convenience and unnecessary in your case. But sometimes Midi controllers don't program internally very well or have as much freedom that MidiPipe allows.

The A List plugin in MidiPipe is how you verify what messages your controller sends natively and then you use the Message Converter plugin which you then pick each native message and tell it to become the MC6 message and it will control the MC6. Choose a Midi In and a virtual Midi Out (within MidiPipe) and then set that Midi Out to be the Midi In of the MC6.
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Wow, Kevin. Thank you for your continuing excellent input, and thanks for reviewing. I think there can be two modes for the midi-hand controller- with and without a computer. I am working on the smallest footprint...without. I want to have a least amount of gear to implement. But I see the challenge as you set forth. As a direct use basis, I would ideally like to use the MC6, since it is the smallest most versatile unit out there. But coaxing the unit via CC messages is challenging.

I am on Windows, BTW. So the midiPipe window version like http://www.midiox.com/ would be the ticket, yes?. How about a similar solution that can operate on a Raspberry Pi? Then we can house the Pi on the unit or as part of the connection box to any midi-controller which for mass external use by others, would be the best solution: a Midi-Hand Controller than can easily adapt to pre-existing foot controllers. That sounds like a stretch to have such a Pi-operating system friendly MidiPipe applications. What do you think?

In reality, if I was using a computer, then why would we need a midi-foot controller at all if the midi-hand controller can be utilized as a USB controller too- maybe there is a way to have it switch from Midi (and cc-messages) to USB. Or am i missing something?


Then there is the option of Rasberry Pi midi-controller but now we are talking a lot of programming which is what i wanted to avoid by using a preexisting product like the MC6.


Any further thoughts, Kevin? Happey to have a phone conversation with you- you are very assute and seem intregued by this project. Jeff - 312 953 8728. I understand otherwise.


THANK YOU AGAIN!
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MidiOx would be exactly the equivalent of MidiPipe. That's a good find. It can do custom mappings as well and it will show the Midi Input messages that are coming into it and then it will show the Midi Output that it is sending to whatever VST or synthesizer.

Now that you are talking about Raspberry Pi I'd like to know more about what you are trying to do. It appears you don't understand the best solution for your goal when you say "Midi to USB". So yes you are missing something there. The Midi Specification is a protocol for sending bytes of information that are translated by synthesizers to create sound. Whether those messages are sent over USB or an actual MIDI 5 pin DIN cable the Midi protocol is the same for either. So unless I misunderstand what is really going on here with your project, then there is no reason to account for whether you use a Midi controller through USB or the 5 pin DIN cable except in making sure the hardware can connect to it. But as for the software (the Midi protocol) its the same. In reality, today Midi is mostly done with USB instead of the old DIN cable. USB is easier since computers all use USB.

There are projects available on GitHub for using Midi on Raspberry Pi however that complicates the situation when you could just buy a Midi controller and send whatever messages you need. So depending on what you are trying to do it may not be the direct solution but it is certainly possible whether or not it is the easiest route.

I had to look up the MidiOx program to answer you astutely. Calling over the phone will eliminate my ability to remain as astute as possible. I know what I know about Midi since I've been working on my own project that demands coding in some microtonal capabilities into VST's that don't support it through the use of applications such as MidiPipe and MidiOx but I know what I know to accomplish what I need to do. Let me know more about your project if you want and maybe I can help steer you in the right direction to the most appropriate solution.

So real quick, back to whether or not you need to use a computer or not. I thought you needed the native functionality of the MC6 for your purpose but that you needed it to be more accessible. But now it seems like you just need a Midi controller at all that will do what? The MC6 isn't a keyboard but is its own thing. You want to be able to play certain sounds when people pass by and hit certain buttons on some controller. Is that it? Why not just use the MC6 to do that? Let me know what I'm missing as well.
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Thanks again, Kevin! Sorry to confuse the scenarios! I cannot use MidiOX since I am not wanting to use a computer in order to make the midi-hand controller make program changes and expression implementation to my various pedals that are 5-pin DIN, not all USB friendly (although some are...maybe the important to note). I was thinking of using the MC6 as the brains to this implementation mission and have my midi-hand controller access the MC6 capabilities by sending the MC6 cc-messages to "virtually" switch the 6 switches and utilize the 2 expression pedal inputs via the midi-hand controller sliders and pressure strips. I would connect the Midi-hand controller midi-out to the midi-in of the MC6. May need to physically insert cables to the expression pedal inputs of the MC6 or maybe just accomplish the real-time parameter controller via midi, if there is no loss of performance options.


The aforementioned is the stand alone midi scenario- being 5-pin DIN capable (unless I only use pedals with USB capabilities- or use some sort of converter). The smallest physical footprint to travel and not worrying about setting up a computer. This can allow me to quickly set up the rig for live performances. I am not married to the MC6 but it seems to be the best smallest unit. I would think recreating its functionality will be quite the task if I want to have my own midi controller brain. Or that is why I brought up Raspberry Pi or Arduino options- I saw a few DYI, but nothing solid found yet.


If I need to use a computer to utilize a solution like MidiOx, then there would potentially be another path to take that does not require the MC6 at all, but rather have a software platform like Ableton that allows the Midi-Hand Controller to be a more simple USB controller that responds to the brains of Ableton. I would need a audio interface with Midi like my Native Instruments box. Does that make sense, or do you think the MC6 would still be needed to control the midi pedals?

This is why I said switchable to function with Midi and USB- but to your point. I think the Morningstar box has USB too, so the midi-hand controller can use USB to work with MC6 to 5-pin, or direct to computer if my other scenario makes sense.

Did i give you any additional clarity with all this rambling? LOL... HOPE SO.


Looking forward to your comments, Kevin...THANK YOU
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Ok, so there are two routes I'm seeing here. Either connect all the pedals to the MC6 so that those pedals are the controllers for the Midi messages that the MC6 sends OR you can program any button/slider/knob to send any pedal data as if it was a pedal by programming that particular Midi controller to send that data for that particular control.

So which one are you wanting to do? If you are trying to control a bunch of pedals from the MC6 then that is the wrong thing. The pedals are like an additional button/slider/knob that you hook up to your controller that just gets pushed by your foot. But you can eliminate the pedals entirely if you just want to send those Midi messages via a button/slider/knob through programming it.

For instance, the Expression Controller is not really the expression controller. It's really just a fader that is sending the Midi Message >
{ STATUS BYTE, First DATA Byte(LSB), Second Data Byte(MSB)} which is >
{CONTROL CHANGE MESSAGE, EXPRESSION CONTROLLER, VALUE OF EXPRESSION} which is in decimals >
{176-191, 11, 0-127}

So the range 176-191 represents the fundamental flag for ANY control change message but each subsequent value represents a higher Midi Channel Send value. So 176 is CC channel 1. 191 is CC channel 16. The Expression data has the fixed number 11. So you put 11 in the LSB slot (least significant byte; also known as the first data byte). And the value is represented from a range of 0-127 that the knob/slider/pedal will determine.

What this means, is that you can have ANY button/knob/slider/pedal send ANY Midi message if you so choose. So do you want to PROGRAM the MC6 to send pedal data through the buttons it already has or do you want to connect pedals to the MC6 that will become the extra buttons of the MC6 which will send the expression data via the pedal control? Programs like MidiOx make it possible to send any Midi message through any button/knob/slider/pedal. But the MC6 advertises it is already fully programmable to do that except at first glance it doesn't look like it has any sliding controls on it but just buttons. And the buttons don't look like they are dials so any other Midi controller that has sliders and dials would be the solution instead of the MC6 if you wanted to control everything by hand.

What style of control do you want? Slider? Dial/Knob? Pedal? You can send any Midi message via those controls. However, if you want the pedal to be your controller then you have to use the pedals but you don't have to use the pedals if you are wanting to send that type of Midi message with your hand. In that case you don't need the pedals at all. Just program the hand controller to send the right Midi message. And that is done by reading through the manual. It will tell you how to program a slider to be whatever you want or a dial/knob to be whatever you want.

You could tell me every single pedal you are using and every single effect and I could tell you the equivalent Midi message that you would have to program to a Midi controller to send those messages by hand rather than by foot. Because now it seems that's all you are trying to do: use pedal effects with your hand. Right now my Midi keyboard controls all 4 piano pedals on faders for my VST and that's it. I can keep a constant pedal value with my sliders without using any pedal. I could have easily programmed the dials to do the same. The only difference here is that the value gets reset by the pedal control where as the dials and faders retain the value. If you wanted the same functionality of the pedal but for your hand then you would have to buy a Midi controller with many Pitch Bend Wheels for the values to reset back to 0 on their own.
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OMG, Kevin. Now you really have my head spinning. And nearly off my neck;) I don't know if I can immediately reply to your comments other than try to boil it down in terms I can convey: I want to change patches, have tap tempo, and have two main expression sliders. These patches would include changing presets on any or all of the pedals within the pedal board. Based on that patch, the expression sliders would be associated with parameters of any given pedal preset that comprises that particular patch. I hope I am using the word "Patch" correctly: a combination of presets of a number of midi FX devices.

How this gets done without a computer is the question. Using my fingers is one main requirement. i thought the MC6 allows such patch changes. By controlling the MC6 via my hand controler, i would accomplish my mission. If there is an easier way to do so, please let me know. Sounds mighty complicated instead of straightforward.

i am trying to find someone in Chicago who has a decent knowledge of Midi to help me set up my foot controlled board who in turn could be at the very least, a good interpreter to this more heady hand-controller aspiration. i think i have one guy in mind, but will see who else can come to the rescue.

I will let you know how i do with the support team. They will be better understand your most assute comments.

THANK YOU
Jeff
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Ok, so now you are saying the sliders are not the Expression Midi message but they are Program Change sliders that change the patches that you have which are sets of presets for your pedals. I hope I'm understanding that's what you are saying. The Expression controller just sends expression data which is just a way to control Master Volume versus Mixed Volume of the sound. If you want the sliders to select your presets then those are called Program Change messages.

So the solution for your case is the MC6 and some other programmable controller that just has sliders and buttons.

The AKAI Pro APC40 Pad controller and its miniature version look like they can fit the bill along with the MC6.

The MC6 will do all the Program/Patch Change Messages you need and control the tap tempo but when it comes to using it all by hand along with Program Change sliders then you might use the above controllers.

Midi Hand controller > "sends the Control Change (CC) messages that the MC6 wants" > MC6 controller > "sends the Program Change Messages (PCM) that the pedal effects want" > Pedal Effects

Work your way backwards from your pedal effects to the MC6 to the Hand controller, keeping everything working as you go.

Primer if you need it (this will tell you how to do the MC6 but then you extrapolate it to the Hand Controller sending CC messages instead of PCM as we discussed at the first):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LfTwFIiEUUc

I hope this all helps you to understand what you need. The guys in the video said that if the pedal effects don't receive Midi then you can't do the MC6 but I suppose its more common today that they do receive Midi.
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Thanks, Kevin!

Midi Hand controller > "sends the Control Change (CC) messages that the MC6 wants" > MC6 controller > "sends the Program Change Messages (PCM) that the pedal effects want" > Pedal Effects. This is what was being recommended to me. So yes, this is the game plan. But I confused you regarding sliders-

The midi hand controller has 6 switches to correspond to the 6 switches of the MC6. It will have 2 sliders to correspond to the 2 expression pedal inputs of the MC6. So the Akai solution is not going to be the ticket since I want to have these finger controls on the back of my one hand, played by the fingers of the other hand. Needs to be super small. I thought of a phone but not tactile.

Now I thinking of scaling this project down and just get the foot rig set up and only use the expression pedal inputs of the MC6 and run cables up to my hand and use a POT- done at least to access the expression pedal parameter control. The rest of switching patches will be done with the foot for now. Can work on the rest of the hand implementation once I see of how well the easy stage works out...

Make music in the meanwhile!

THANK YOU
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Well remember that if you need to send the Expression Midi message with your hand, then you can do so without the pedal. But the rest of the pedal effects which are not Midi have to be activated through the MC6.

Now it sounds like what you need is a full custom build for a micro Midi controller or a full custom application for a smartphone. I'm glad I could help in whatever way possible. Good luck to you.
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Thank you, Kevin! I keep forgetting to make sure I relook at this thread- sorry for my delayed reply. I great appreciate all your wonderful comments. To be clear with you last comment; I would use the two expression pedal inputs on the MC6 to be control the FX pedals that are comprising any particular preset I select on the MC6. But instead of using a regular foot expression pedal with it POT, I would be creating two hand placed POT controller/sliders to be accessed by my fingers.

I thought the MC6 took regular non-midi expression pedal type, hence why I would need the appropriate POT type hand expression slider.

Anyway, this should get be going and not be overkill out of the gate.

Thank you so much,
Jeff
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Just to be clear. A potentiometer based control whether it be a slider or a pedal doesn't mean it is called "expression". The Expression Midi message is just that, a Midi message for the use of fine tuning volume and the like. But if you use the pedal/slider to perform changes to your presets then you are using them for the Program (or Patch) Change message and not the Expression Midi message.

I feel like things are still mixed up in your mind. I hope this clears it up. This is why I was confused originally about your purpose because you used the term "expression pedal" which actually means "a pedal that sends the Expression Midi message" but all the while this pedal you want it to control the presets on your other Effects Pedals and the like which actually means "a pedal that sends the Program Change message."
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Hi Kevin,

Sorry for the confusion. To be clear, i am not wanting to send program changes through the expression pedal inputs of the MC6. Nor do i want to send program changes through sliders on my hand controller. Switches are for that purpose in both the MC6 and the hand Controller.

From the Morningstar website on the MC6 it states:

EXPRESSION INPUTS
Connect expression pedals to send sweeping CC messages, or aux switches (up to 6) for additional presets.

I am only interested in sweeping CC messages, using a standard non-midi foot pedal. On the hand controller, instead of POT within the non-midi foot controller, i would use a slider POT to essentially send the sweeping CC messages.

For phase one, i will concentrate on just the easy attachment of two cords into the MC6 Exp1 and Exp2, then program their use in connection to presets of that set the parameters of the various foot FX pedals. i think this a good starting point to see how well the easiest implementation is going to workout before getting into the midi-switches for program changes.

Does this clear things up for you?

THANK YOU, Kevin!
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Hi Jeff,

Would you be open to a phone app solution?

You could connect the iPad/iPhone to the pedal via lightning to usb.

If you have an iOS device, I could knock this out for you relatively quickly.

- Matt in Kansas City
mattpfeiffer54@gmail.com
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