Thursday, 19 February 2015

Midi and the Arduino - Build a Midi Input Circuit

Less talking, more building!

In this installment we are going to assemble a Midi Input Circuit and connect it to your Arduino UNO. The Circuit itself is actually quite simple consisting of only a handful of parts.

In the last installment, we looked at a Circuit Analysis of a Midi Input and Output Circuit. If you are new to this series, I suggest you check it out. It will give you a better understanding of what you are actually building. Now, let's put this knowledge to use and start building the hardware.

I am assembling the circuit on a small solder-less breadboard. The video will walk you through the steps of putting it together. Take your time and double check your work. You'll be fine!

Parts List (Click links to view parts on

Schematic (I find it helpful to have a printed copy when I am building)

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Midi and the Arduino - Circuit Analysis

The Devil's in the Details

One thing I have discovered during my time on this blog is that you folks love connecting things to other things with Midi.

My original Midi for the Arduino article was written a few years back when I was a mere blogging neophyte so I figured it was time for a refresh.

I've seen a lot of articles on how to build a Midi circuit, but haven't found many on how it works. So let's examine Midi circuitry in excruciating detail.

In the video below we'll get to know the 6n138 Optocoupler, examine a Midi Byte, and try to figure out what that weird resistor on Pin 7 actually does!

Check out the next installment in the MIDI and the Arduino series where we build a MIDI Input Circuit

Sunday, 28 September 2014


I'm happy to report that Notes and Volts has reached another milestone with 100,000 views recorded!

I know this isn't a huge amount in internet terms considering that the average Boy Band member can amass more views with an Instagram picture of his half eaten canolli. But when it comes to the non-mainstream kind of stuff that happens here, 100K is great! It's nice to know there are that many fellow geeks experimenting with music electronics out there.

In other news, the Notes and Volts Youtube Channel has reached 700 subscibers with over a quarter of a million minutes watched. That equates to six solid months of me blathering on about stuff. Terrifying when you think about it!

Notes and Volts has also started a Facebook Page (Yeah, I know....but you kind of need one these days). Why not drop by and show it some love!

I started this blog on a whim back in 2011 without any grand plan or expectations. I could never have dreamed of this much support.

I want to thank all the great people I have met and who have supported this blog over the years. I hope you continue to find this an interesting place to visit.

Now to get back to backlog of projects I am planning for future articles. So until next time - Onward and Upward!


Saturday, 2 August 2014

Build the Auduino Granular Synth - Part 2

Panel Art, Wiring, and Finishing Touches

In Part 1 of this project we looked at building and programming the circuit board, drilling the enclosure, and acquiring the parts and tools required for this build. Complete those steps first.

Now in Part 2 we are going to create a custom front panel, finish mounting and wiring the components, and finally instal them in the enclosure.

If you haven't already, download the Panel Art by clinking the link.

All of the steps are detailed in this video. Click to watch and follow along.

 Here are some handy wiring diagrams to help you during the building process:

Auduino Wiring Diagram
Auduino Pin Numbers

Congratulations! You should now have a great looking, fully functional Auduino granular synth to add to your box of musical toys. I've had a lot of fun with this project and I hope you did too. If this series inspired you to make something cool, please let me know. I would love to see what you come up with. See you next time!

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Build the Auduino Granular Synth - Part 1

Parts, Prepping and Drilling

In this tutorial we will take a look at building a stand-alone version of the Auduino Granular Synthesizer (pronounced AWE-duino not ARR-duino) and housing it in a spiffy looking custom enclosure. Even if you're not the musical type, the techniques outlined here may give you some inspiration for future projects so it is definitely worth a look.

Two flavors of the Auduino

Originally designed by Peter Knight for, this circuit is extremely fun to play with and will readily find a home in your arsenal of electronic noise makers. And since it requires only a few extra parts, it really provides a lot of bang for your buck. You can read more about it at the Auduino Wiki Page.

This tutorial builds on material we have covered in previous articles so if you are new, here is the path you should follow:

- Download the PDF files for the Drill Guide and Front Panel Art by clicking the links.

- Build the Arduino on a breadboard circuit described in this ARTICLE.

- Download the Auduino_v5.pde Sketch file from the Auduino page located HERE and program it into your chip as described in this ARTICLE.

- Transfer the circuit to the Adafruit Perma-Proto Board as described HERE.

Now that you are up to speed, Watch the following video for step-by-step instructions and exciting commentary by yours truly.

Here are the additional parts required

You can purchase some of the hard to find parts directly through the Notes and Volts Amazon Store

5 - Potentiometers - 4.7K (or 5K) - Linear Taper
5 - Knobs to fit the Potentiometers.
1 - Adafruit Perma-Proto board - 1/2 Size
1 - 1/4" Mono Phone Jack
1 - 2.1mm Power Adapter Jack (Fully Shielded)
1 - 9V DC Power Adapter (Rated at 50mA or more)
1 - Hammond enclosure - Model 1590BB (1590BBOR for Orange)
4 - Self adhesive Rubber Feet
3 Rolls - 22 Gauge Stranded Wire (Red, Green, Blue)

Photo Paper - (Matte finish)
Plastic Lamination Sheet
Double-sided foam tape or Velcro

Tools required

Drill bits (1/8", 5/16"*, 3/8"*, 1/2"*) *or sized to fit your parts
X-Acto Knife
Tape - (I use Scotch-Blue Painter's Tape)
Side Cutters
Soldering Iron

Optional (nice to have) Tools

Step drill bit that covers the drill sizes you need
Drill Bit Gauge (See video for details)
Automatic Center Punch
Helping hand soldering tool
Hack Saw

Check out Part 2 for the exciting conclusion!

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Fun with Arduino - Arduino on a Proto-Board

Make it Permanent

Congratulations! Your new Arduino project is fully programmed and functional. In fact, it is so good you want to use it for years to come. It's time to take the circuit off the breadboard and make a permanent version.

In the previous installments of this series, we learned how to built a Stand-Alone Arduino on a breadbord. We then learned how to program this circuit using an Arduino board as a In System Programmer.

Now comes the final step. Making a soldered, permanent version that will stand the test of time. There are numerous ways to accomplish this, but the easiest by far is to use a Proto-Board PCB that matches the layout of your breadboard.

There are many Proto-Boards on the market that will fit the bill, but Adafruit have recently released the 'Cadillac of boards' with their Perma-Proto Breadboard PCB.

Check out the video for all the details.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Adventures in CNC - Part 7

CNC Electronics - Gathering The Components

New here? Check out PART 1

Now that the body of the machine is coming together nicely, it's time to focus on the 'Brains'.

In order for a CNC router to do anything useful, it will need....

Controller board/Breakout Board

The Breakout Board has two important jobs. It translates the commands from your computer into signals that your CNC motors can understand. The second job is to electrically isolate all your crazy CNC stuff from your delicate PC. If something goes horribly awry, you may blow your board but the PC should be fine. These boards tend to come in Parallel Port versions and newer USB versions. The unit that came with my machine is a generic Chinese parallel port version. The instructions are a little thin but it seems to work well.

Stepper Motor Drivers

The Stepper Motor Drivers receive step and direction signals from the Controller Board and send out pulses of the correct voltage and current to run the motor. The drivers have a set of DIP switches that set options such as the maximum amperage out and 'Microstepping'. Microstepping allows you to turn the motor less than the normal 1.8-degrees it would normal turn in one step. This allows greater accuracy and smoother motion.

Breakout Board (top) and Motor Drivers (bottom)

Power supplies

There are three different voltages that were needed for my system. 48 Volts for the motors, 5 Volts for the Breakout Board, and 12 Volts for the Proximity Sensors. My machine came included with a 48V power supply that is fed to the motors through the motor drivers. I added 5 volt and 12 volt 'wall wart' type supplies for the additional voltages.

Stepper Motors

Three Wantai Nema23 3.0A 270oz-in 1.8-degree/step Stepper Motors came included with the kit. The term Nema23 tells you the spacing of the holes on the motor mounting plate. The 1.8 degrees/step tells you how many degrees the motor with turn with each step. If you divide 360 degrees by 1.8, you can calculate that the motor will take 200 steps to complete one revolution.

Stepper Motors - The tape flags are for testing

Machine Control Software

For Machine Control Software, I purchased a copy of Mach3 from Newfangled Solutions. This seems to be the most popular CNC control software out there. The cost was $175 US.

Proximity Sensors/Limit Switches

Limit Switches are set up to be triggered when an axis of the CNC reaches the end of its travel. This is important to protect the machine from damage. These can be simple mechanical switches or Inductive Proximity Sensors that detect the magnetic field of the metal machine parts without actually touching them. The kit I purchased included five Inductive Sensors.

In the next installment, we'll put these parts together. Stay tuned!