Wordsmith rock band blog post

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Neale Pickett 2024-01-20 14:03:15 -07:00
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My project this winter break is to get our Wii copy of LEGO Rock Band some controllers again. We sold the original ones years ago because they were gigantic, so any replacements need to be small and easily stored.
## Step one: Working Arduino controller
## Step 1: Working Arduino controller
Before any other work, I needed to make sure I could actually interface with the software.
There's one really popular project
right now,
with published source code,
but it requires some binary desktop app to configure the firmware.
Currently, the "santroller" is very popular:
it requires some kind of binary desktop app to configure the firmware,
and although it's open source software,
it's thousands of lines of code.
I had a hunch I could find something simpler,
and after a day of searching,
I discovered
@ -20,11 +21,10 @@ I discovered
doing exactly what I wanted.
Following the instructions on that page,
I was able to get my old Arduino Micro
recognized as a guitar,
and utterly fail a level as
I attempted to ground the right pins
with a bit of wire
to register button presses.
recognized as a guitar.
By awkwardly grounding input pins with a wire,
I was able to slowly navigate the menus,
and I even managed to fail a song.
I used an old 4-port USB hub
I had lying around,
@ -53,18 +53,31 @@ I already had M3 screws,
which are used all the time in
3D printed builds.
Total cost of parts for two controllers,
not counting 3D printed parts,
is about $40.
## Drum controller
The first decision to make was
finger drumming vs hitting things
with sticks: we decided sticks
would be more fun.
## Step 3: Drum controller
The second decision was
MIDI vs destructive conversion.
Conversion looked cheaper and easier,
so we went that way.
There are a lot of options that could work as a drum controller,
including "finger drums" like the Akai MPD218,
full drum kits like the Alesis Nitro Mesh,
drum pads like the Alesis SamplePad,
or options to build my own kit with piezos.
A few factors went into the decision:
1. We wanted something you hit with sticks.
Hitting things with sticks requires big movements,
which will result in funnier situations during the game.
2. We wanted something that was easy to hook up.
The devices with MIDI output would require at least a translation device,
the USB MIDI devices would need the translation device to plug into power.
If possible, we want the "rock bands drums" to just plug in to the hub,
and that's all.
3. Since nobody's built anything like this before,
we wanted to start cheap.
I wound up buying a $26 children's
roll up drum mat.