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Does a simple MIDI on/off box exist?


Josh Paxton

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With multi-board rigs, sometimes I run into situations whose simplest solution is plugging the MIDI cable in when I need it, and pulling it out when I don't. But finding dangling cables and reaching around to the back of the board is a pain. So what I would love is a simple 1-in, 1-out box with an on/off switch, that I could mount to the top of a keyboard. Press the button, MIDI goes through. Press it again, MIDI doesn't go through.

 

Does anyone know if such a thing exists? I just checked the MIDI Solutions web site, and they didn't seem to have anything.

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Closest I know of is my Edirol UM-3X MIDI/USB interface. which has a switch that toggles MIDI Thru Off and On. IIRC, in one position, the MIDI runs thru, in the other it goes to USB and thus the computer.

 

Even though you're not looking for the USB part, these kinds of interfaces are cheap enough that they might do what you need.

"I'm so crazy, I don't know this is impossible! Hoo hoo!" - Daffy Duck

 

"The good news is that once you start piano you never have to worry about getting laid again. More time to practice!" - MOI

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Phillip Rees used to make what you are looking for but not anymore. Maybe you can find a used one online.

 

Other than that maybe you can try something like the Programmable Output Selectors from Midi Solution and send one out socket to your slave board and leave the other unused. ... But that is $150 for something to be under utilized as an on/off switch. That wouldn't sound very appealing to me.

 

One reason this thing is hard to find is it seems there is not much need for it. That functionality is built in to my master slab and I do not play anything special. There are on off buttons under each of my zone slider. Plus most boards that support midi should let you program some predefined midi setups.

 

If you don't mind, What is you master board? If someone else here uses the same master board they may be able to shoot you a easy solution without buying anything. It could be worth a shot.

 

Good luck.

"It doesn't have to be difficult to be cool" - Mitch Towne

 

"A great musician can bring tears to your eyes!!!

So can a auto Mechanic." - Stokes Hunt

 

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I doubt very much that a box exactly like that is currently being made commercially. I do remember there used to be a range of MIDI selector boxes by Philip Rees - long since discontinued -that you could use if you could pick one up from somewhere.

 

http://www.philrees.co.uk/products/index.html Look for these: 2S, 5S, 9S and 3B MIDI Selectors.

 

Other than that, why not just build your own - a simple two pole switch hooked up to a couple of MIDI sockets should do the trick.

 

It is surprising how often I need to do this myself - I just do it by changing the output MIDI channel on my kbd to an unused channel. The global setting for this is usually easily accessible - YMMV

 

Everybody's got to believe in something. I believe I'll have another beer. - W. C. Fields

 

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One reason this thing is hard to find is it seems there is not much need for it. That functionality is built in to my master slab and I do not play anything special. There are on off buttons under each of my zone slider. Plus most boards that support midi should let you program some predefined midi setups.

That's ideal, but a lot of MIDI controllers these days seem so much more geared toward recording/DAW use than live performance. Also, often the "bottom" board of a pair might not be specifically designed as a controller... a lot of slab pianos have minimal MIDI functionality built in (i.e. Yamaha P series, Privias except for the PX3, any Korg from the SP170 to the SV1), but it's still often convenient to be able to trigger an "other keyboard" sound from them.

 

But yeah, there are other ways to possibly skin this cat. You could create patches on the destination keyboard that have no sound assigned to the MIDI channel triggered by the remote keyboard (or there may be an easy way to silence that MIDI channel on that board on the fly); you may be able to take anything that that board generates from that MIDI channel input and send it to an assignable out that could have its own volume pedal or its own mixer channel with a mute switch; you might be able to use a MIDI expression pedal to just control the volume associated with that MIDI channel... but as the OP says, sometimes a switch, if you had one, would just be the simplest way to go.

 

Though adding a MIDI volume pedal on the appropriate channel, after some initial configuration, would be pretty simple in operation, and actually more flexible, as you could also fade sounds in and out as opposed to only being able to turn them on and off. I'm thinking along the lines of a Behringer FCB1010. A bit big and bulky if that's all you need it for, though. You could also do it with a MIDI Solutions Pedal Controller and your choice of expression pedal, that might be more elegant though pricier.

Maybe this is the best place for a shameless plug! Our now not-so-new new video at https://youtu.be/3ZRC3b4p4EI is a 40 minute adaptation of T. S. Eliot's "Prufrock" - check it out! And hopefully I'll have something new here this year. ;-)

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(CLONK images)

 

2x

http://www.parts-express.com/images/item_standard/092-154_s.jpg

at $0.59 ea

 

Plus

 

http://www.parts-express.com/images/item_standard/060-544_s.jpg

at $1.44

 

Plus

 

http://www.parts-express.com/images/item_standard/320-400_s.jpg

at $2.10

 

Equals

 

http://www.that80sbandstl.com/images/mpforum/MIDISwitch.jpg

 

for $4.72

 

 

 

(plus some screws, wire, solder, tools, time, etc.)

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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http://www.that80sbandstl.com/images/mpforum/MIDISwitch.jpg

 

for $4.72

 

 

 

(plus some screws, wire, solder, tools, time, etc.)

 

Without a bounce protection circuit you're running the risk of hung notes or worse downstream.

 

I'd take the approach of examining the capabilities of the gear, rather than trying to interrupt the actual connection.

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How is a manual switch any different than plugging and unplugging a cable? I've done this (actually 1:2 switcher with a foot pedal years ago) with never an issue....ever.

 

He's not going to be turning it on and off during data transmission.

 

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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How is a manual switch any different than plugging and unplugging a cable?

 

it's not... Neither one is a suitable solution, IMO.

 

I've done this (actually 1:2 switcher with a foot pedal years ago) with never an issue....ever.

 

I wouldn't expect someone that knows enough to develop that circuit to have any issues with it... but we're not talking about you, we're talking about the OP, so we can't make the same assumptions.

 

 

He's not going to be turning it on and off during data transmission.

 

And we know his how? Switches can be bumped, jostled, tripped, etc a heck of a lot easier than unplugging a MIDI cable.

 

Anyway, from a practical standpoint I agree that there's nothing inherently wrong with your circuit, it's more about the underlying situation not being clearly stated.

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I'm not disagreeing with your pointing out the theoretical downfalls - they're real. But I think from a practical standpoint, given it's pretty frickin simple and less than 5 bucks, it can't hurt to give it a shot.

 

I can design him a circuit free from the noted caveats, but it would most certainly be beyond his skill level. I think anybody who can drill and solder could give it a try. If it has issues, not much is lost. Again, I gigged for year with a technically worse solution than that with no issues. But you're correct that it is not technically the correct way to implement the solution.

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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(CLONK images)

 

2x

http://www.parts-express.com/images/item_standard/092-154_s.jpg

at $0.59 ea

 

Plus

 

http://www.parts-express.com/images/item_standard/060-544_s.jpg

at $1.44

 

Plus

 

http://www.parts-express.com/images/item_standard/320-400_s.jpg

at $2.10

 

Equals

 

http://www.that80sbandstl.com/images/mpforum/MIDISwitch.jpg

 

for $4.72

 

 

 

(plus some screws, wire, solder, tools, time, etc.)

 

This will never work at all.

For interuption of MIDI transmission, there´s a locical board necessary,- otherwise you cut MIDI data strings/messages before these are transmitted completely.

I´m talking from experience because befor we had MIDI matrix switchers i the 80th, I had these kind of toggle switche built in into all my MIDI keyboard controllers,- Prophet 5, OB-8 and so on.

 

If you push the switch, the circuit must be able to recognize when a transmission of any MIDI data package within in the stream is finished and become active before the next data package arrives.

The packages are defined by the status bytes (note on p.ex.) and in case of SysEx by EOX (end of transmission).

 

In addition, best is, the circuit bypasses MIDI active sensing always. Otherwise some modules will shut off their voices if they don´t receive it anymore and next time you switch the MIDI connection to on again,- there´s no sound.

In the past, that ruled for the Yammi gear like TX816 and such.

 

A.C.

 

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I think from a practical standpoint, given it's pretty frickin simple and less than 5 bucks, it can't hurt to give it a shot.

 

 

NO, don´t do that,- you run into any nitemare scenarios because there is also no controller reset,- it´s not only switch bumping causing errors.

 

Think about your mod wheel is (halfway) up while you cut the MIDI line,- next time you go back to that module/keyboard via MIDI, it has the information of the MOD wheel from previous MIDI routing setup.

Sustain pedal not closed before switching,- horrible !

 

1st, we did it wrong in the past,- but Jim Cooper came up w/ the right info for my tech,- then it worked.

 

A.C.

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Closest I know of is my Edirol UM-3X MIDI/USB interface.

 

Oh geez, thank you for reminding me of the obvious thing I should have thought of first. Once I read that, I remembered that my old MOTU FastLane does the same thing, and I'm pretty sure I still have it in a drawer somewhere.

 

The slab is either a PX-310 or an SV-1, depending. Yes, there are other solutions possible with both boards, but those aren't the solutions I'm looking for at the present time.

 

And thanks for the DIY tips, but I won't be taking that route. I've never even used a soldering iron successfully. [hides head in shame]

 

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I think from a practical standpoint, given it's pretty frickin simple and less than 5 bucks, it can't hurt to give it a shot.

 

 

NO, don´t do that,- you run into any nitemare scenarios because there is also no controller reset,- it´s not only switch bumping causing errors.

 

Think about your mod wheel is (halfway) up while you cut the MIDI line,- next time you go back to that module/keyboard via MIDI, it has the information of the MOD wheel from previous MIDI routing setup.

Sustain pedal not closed before switching,- horrible !

 

1st, we did it wrong in the past,- but Jim Cooper came up w/ the right info for my tech,- then it worked.

 

A.C.

 

He's not going to be flipping the switch while playing. Doing this is absolutely no different than what he is doing now: plugging and unplugging the midi cable. What's the difference between unplugging the midi cable and flipping the switch?

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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He's not going to be flipping the switch while playing. Doing this is absolutely no different than what he is doing now: plugging and unplugging the midi cable. What's the difference between unplugging the midi cable and flipping the switch?
Unplugging the MIDI cable is less convenient AND less controversial :laugh:
A ROMpler is just a polyphonic turntable.
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I would think that the switch would be functionally no different from plugging and unplugging the cable, just quicker. That said, I have had experiences where I have suspected that the reason something wasn't behaving as I'd expected was because I had unplugged and plugged in a MIDI cable while it was powered up... I think some devices are more tolerant of that than others. Since the OP has a Casio, I'll mention that one of the problems seemed to be that a Casio board I was using was failing to send the full velocity range; turning the board off and on again fixed it. I don't know for a fact that the problem occurred because I had tinkered with the MIDI cables while it was on, but that was my suspicion.

Maybe this is the best place for a shameless plug! Our now not-so-new new video at https://youtu.be/3ZRC3b4p4EI is a 40 minute adaptation of T. S. Eliot's "Prufrock" - check it out! And hopefully I'll have something new here this year. ;-)

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I say - go for it and build the switchbox. The worst thing that can happpen is that you loose 5$ and 40 mins of work.
Nord Stage 3 sw73, Yamaha CP88, KeyB Legend Live, Kurzweil PC3K7, EV ZXa1 + sub. K&M stands, Hammond E112, Leslie 3300, EHX V256, Roland SE-02, Yamaha EX5R & TG77, Novation Nova desktop & much more...
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He's not going to be flipping the switch while playing. Doing this is absolutely no different than what he is doing now: plugging and unplugging the midi cable. What's the difference between unplugging the midi cable and flipping the switch?

 

Again, I'll state this: it's far more likely that a switch like you describe can accidentally be moved while playing than a MIDI cable becoming unplugged, so you've just increased your potential for error.

 

Secondly, neither solution is the correct solution. Yours is more convenient, but what happens if he's standing on the sustain pedal while he flips the switch? Or some drunk is reaching over and moving the pitch bend wheel without him knowing about it?

 

Anyway, I'll sit back and let the chips fall where they may, and get ready for the thread 6 months from now about stuck notes or screwy tuning in the slave keyboard because a bad solder joint was made in the switchbox. :thu::wave:

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(CLONK images)

 

2x

http://www.parts-express.com/images/item_standard/092-154_s.jpg

at $0.59 ea

 

Plus

 

http://www.parts-express.com/images/item_standard/060-544_s.jpg

at $1.44

 

Plus

 

http://www.parts-express.com/images/item_standard/320-400_s.jpg

at $2.10

 

Equals

 

http://www.that80sbandstl.com/images/mpforum/MIDISwitch.jpg

 

for $4.72

 

(plus some screws, wire, solder, tools, time, etc.)

 

I'd break also a ground line with switch - then it will be same as pulling out the cable. Been doing this many times, no problems. BTW I was always wondering why they didn't implement software switch for midi with some buffer and handshaking, confirmations bits etc :grin:

 

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Incidentally, you didn't give detail as to what all is included in your setup, but if you can find one, the JL Cooper Nexus is pretty simple and slick.

3 MIDI ins, 8 outs. 8 3-way switches. Basically, for each of the 8 midi outs you have a dedicated switch to select one of 3 sources. If you only plug in one source, the other 2 positions would be "off". Note, if all switches were on the same position, you're sending one source to 8 destinations (basically a thru box). For 1 in and 1 out, it would be overkill, but would do the job. A quick search found one on US eBay for $134 and one on UK eBay for $31 - quite a range...but I would think you could pick one up for $50.

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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With multi-board rigs, sometimes I run into situations whose simplest solution is plugging the MIDI cable in when I need it, and pulling it out when I don't. But finding dangling cables and reaching around to the back of the board is a pain. So what I would love is a simple 1-in, 1-out box with an on/off switch, that I could mount to the top of a keyboard. Press the button, MIDI goes through. Press it again, MIDI doesn't go through.

 

Does anyone know if such a thing exists? I just checked the MIDI Solutions web site, and they didn't seem to have anything.

 

This might do what you're looking for

There are 10 kinds of people in the world...those who can read binary, and those who can't.
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It looks like that piece requires USB power... they seem to expect there to be a computer in the setup... even if you rig up something else to supply power through the USB port, it is unclear what functionality it has (if any) as a standalone box...?

Maybe this is the best place for a shameless plug! Our now not-so-new new video at https://youtu.be/3ZRC3b4p4EI is a 40 minute adaptation of T. S. Eliot's "Prufrock" - check it out! And hopefully I'll have something new here this year. ;-)

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A good solution would require two opto-couplers, probably a supply and some digital machinery to switch at a point in time where at least there's no data words being cut off, and preferably the switch should take place at a point in time where the midi protocol makes that right. And even then the one stream might have to switch on a little later for the same reasons. And thw swich should be in electronics terms "debounced". Unless all those conditions are fulfilled for sure in the long run errors will take place. How much probability? Depends on how easy it is for instance to garble a "running status" message. Effects? often not noticeable but there are synths and software which will at some point mess up when data gets garbled. Neat ones will in most cases display a midi error message in be ook, but probability exists that the switch generates an error which gets interpreted. And switch bipolar (i.e. including the ground to prevent grounding loop) does break midi rules and could generate clicks and hum, also in practice. :)

 

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I say - go for it and build the switchbox. The worst thing that can happpen is that you loose 5$ and 40 mins of work.

 

As a reminder:

 

Analog switch for analog signals

 

Digital "switch" for data.

 

A.C.

 

For God's sakes...

http://www.that80sbandstl.com/images/mpforum/midiscan.jpg

doesn't prevent you from doing something stupid like switching it while you're holding a note down. Neither did the midi patch bays back in the day. I owned a few of them, and guess what, if you hold a note down and switch the source, you get a stuck note. it's not rocket science - just don't do that.

 

Edit: should be a resistor pulling input to the gate to ground when the switch is open. Probably other mistakes to. Not suggesting you build this, just making a point :wave:

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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I have the Edirol UM3ex - it doesn't take USB power to forward midi data in "thru mode" - it's probably just a simple analog switch (like in the schematic above), connecting the pins of midi in to midi thru. Flipping the switch will break the connection (and connecting the sockets to computer's usb port instead).

 

I also happen to have a JL Cooper Nexus plus, which I bought for about 40 bucks. A great little problem solver! It's a midi merger and a 2 x 8 switch (the plus version also has programmable midi filter, transposer and some kind of zoning capaility which only limits the key range of incoming midi data). I strongly recommend it for anyone who have a couple of modules controlled from two (or more) keyboards.

Nord Stage 3 sw73, Yamaha CP88, KeyB Legend Live, Kurzweil PC3K7, EV ZXa1 + sub. K&M stands, Hammond E112, Leslie 3300, EHX V256, Roland SE-02, Yamaha EX5R & TG77, Novation Nova desktop & much more...
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