How to make a MIDI piano with the Touch Board
Discover how to make a MIDI piano with the Touch Board
The Touch Board has a powerful MP3 decoder chip that can also decode MIDI notes from its on board MIDI library, which is capable of playing multiple samples simultaneously. To use the Touch Board’s stand-alone MIDI functionality, also known as real-time MIDI Mode, you have to make some physical changes to the board with Electric Paint.
Ready to put your own code on the Touch Board? Follow this tutorial to get started.
Use the Touch Board to re-imagine the Theremin!
Create a MIDI paper controller
Set-up the Touch Board
Before you get started, you first need set up the Touch Board. You can do this by following the Touch Board set-up tutorial.
Once you have set-up the Touch Board, we are going to upload the sketch “Midi_Piano”. First, open the sketch in File->Sketchbook->Touch Board Examples in the Arduino IDE and upload it to your Touch Board. When you have uploaded the code, turn the board off and disconnect it from your computer.
Solder the MIDI solder bridges
In order to use the onboard MIDI functionality, you need to connect two solder bridges on the Touch Board. If you want to go back to MP3 playback mode at a later stage you will need to remove these solder joints. You can cold solder the bridges with Electric Paint. Alternatively, you can use a soldering iron, although Electric Paint allows you to easily remove the solder joins.
Leave the Electric Paint or solder to dry.
Test the board
Once the solder joints have dried, connect your board to some speakers and to power. Turn the board on and touch the electrodes. You should hear the default piano instrument playing!
If there are any issues check that the solder connections are properly bridging the two pads.
Attach the keys
The electrodes of the Touch Board are simulating the piano keys and you can use any conductive materials to connect to the electrodes. For example, you could use Electric Paint, crocodile clips, or copper tape.
For this tutorial, we have screen printed 12 piano keys with Electric Paint. To find out how to screen print with Electric Paint, have a look at our screen printing tutorial. You can download the piano stencil as part of the digital toolkit. We then cold soldered the Touch Board to the piano. Leave the paint to dry. Also, it’s easier to cold solder, without any speakers or cables attached to the board.
Plug and Play
When the paint has dried, once again, connect your speakers and power supply to the Touch Board. Now try touching the piano keys, you should be able to play the piano now!
Also if you have any problems, check out our troubleshooting guide or send us your questions. If you ever want to revert back to the MP3 functionality, you can simply remove the solder bridges.