Old RC transmitter becomes new MIDI controller
If you’re going to produce electronic music on a PC, you need some sort of input tool. That can be your keyboard and mouse, but most producers prefer to use a dedicated MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) controller. That will provide a more intuitive and efficient experience. Instead of buying something new, HYPRREAL turned a ’70s Futaba RC transmitter into a MIDI controller.
RC transmitters, like the vintage Futaba model used for this project, are controllers for RC vehicles like planes and cars. While cheap toy RC vehicles tend to come with dedicated transmitters, high-end vehicles work with universal transmitters like this one. They’re of a higher quality and can be used with all the vehicles in a hobbyist’s collection. Being an older model, this unit was quite simple. It only had two potentiometer joysticks and a few sliders. To expand its capability, HYPRREAL added several additional potentiometers.
An Arduino board monitors all of the potentiometers via multiplexers. It runs a MIDI controller library, so it can send MIDI messages to a computer connected through a USB cable. As far as the computer is concerned, the connected device is just a standard MIDI controller. That means that it will work with any MIDI software and HYPRREAL only had to configure the different controls within that software. The result is a useful MIDI controller in a very attractive retro package.