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DIY Control Panel via iPad/MIDI


Mezentius
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Hi everyone -- wanted to share a method I've used to create a wireless touchscreen control panel for Steel Beasts, using an old iPad I had lying around:

 

 

What you need:

-a Wifi network

-an iPad

-TB MIDI Stuff ($4 on the App Store)

-MIDI Translator Classic (free)

-rtpMIDI (free)

 

[NB: TB MIDI Stuff hasn't been updated in a while and can be a little buggy. You can use TouchOSC instead which is more reliable, but the controls end up looking a bit too slick for the inside of a tank, in my opinion.]

 

What you're creating is a custom control interface that sends MIDI note messages over the local network. If you were a musician, you might use this to trigger samples during a performance—but instead we'll translate those musical notes into keystrokes which will be played back on your Steel Beasts computer.

 

Step 1)

Install TB MIDI Stuff on your iPad, open it up and hit the button that looks like a small wrench. Make sure the following settings are correct:

MIDI In: TB MIDI Stuff In

MIDI Out: WiFi Network: Session 1

Background Mode: On

(It should look like this)

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Then you can create a new interface using the "+" button -> "Add a new page":

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Once you have a blank page, you can go ahead and start adding custom controls. Let's start by adding a simple Drum Pad, which is basically just a touch sensitive button.

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Once you've sized and placed the button to your taste, highlight it and click the "i" button to open up its settings. Scroll down to "MIDI Messages" and select it.

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Add a new MIDI Message and choose "Note Message."

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Change mode to "Send Only" then set the Note value. These range from "C-2" to "G8" and are coded as musical notes on an octave scale. You can choose any note you'd like, as long as you choose a different note for each button.

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Now go ahead and click "Done" in the window. And save the entire page by clicking "Done"->"Save Page" on the top left. Now that you have a working button which sends a signal over the network, you just have to set up a server on your Steel Beasts computer to receive that message and translate it into a keystroke.

 

Step 2)

Install rtpMIDI and start it up. Under "Session," click the "Enabled" checkbox. Then find your iPad under the Directory listing and click "Connect." It should look something like this:

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Step 3)

Install MIDI Translator Classic and start it up. Under the "MIDI In" menu, select your computer. Then click "Preset" -> "New". Now you're ready to translate each button's input into a keystroke.

 

Click on "Translator"->"Add." Double-click on the new entry, which should bring up the following window. Click on the "Incoming" tab, then click the "Capture MIDI" checkbox. Now press the new button you made on your TB MIDI Stuff control page in Step 1. You should see something like the following come up:

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You'll notice that two messages have come in. One starts with a "80" and the other one starts with "90". The "90" message is the "Note On" (button down) message, and the "80" message is the "Note Off" (button up) message. We want to trigger the action as soon as the button is pressed, so you should select the "90" message. It will be copied into the message bar like so:

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Now click on the "Outgoing" tab, then change the Outgoing Action type to "Keystroke Emulation." Type in the key you want to trigger when the button is pressed, then click "Apply." It should look like this:

 

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Voila! Now you have a button on your iPad which will trigger a keystroke on your computer via the wireless network. You can now go ahead and repeat this process for as many buttons as you need. I've made a 'universal' Steel Beasts controller, but of course you could make custom pages for each tank if you'd like.

 

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In theory you should be able to do a lot more with TB MIDI Stuff than just push buttons—e.g. use the accelerometer on the iPad to turn the tank left and right by turning the iPad like a wheel—but I'll leave that for you guys to discover. Hope that was helpful, and let me know if you have other questions, or if any of this was unclear.

 

EDIT: To get you started, I've attached my presets for TB MIDI Stuff (Steel Beasts.tbms) and MIDI Translator Classic (steelbeasts.bmtp) configured as above. To load the TB MIDI Stuff preset, connect to your iPad via iTunes, go to File Sharing->TB MIDI Stuff, and drag-and-drop it into the Documents area. To use the corresponding MIDI Translator preset you can just load it up in the program. (Please note that MIDI Translator Classic logs notes as one octave higher than they appear in TB MIDI Stuff—so for example, if MIDI Translator Classic says the note is a C4, you want to program your button in TB MIDI Stuff to fire a C3.)

steelbeasts.bmtp

Steel Beasts.tbms

Edited by Mezentius
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  • 8 months later...
  • 1 month later...

Hi Mezentius,

I am having difficulty getting your preset (Steel Beasts.tbms) to work.  Using process of elimination, the rtpMIDI driver seems to be working. My screen is displaying the same info as your photo.

Your steelbeasts.bmtp file seems to be correctly loaded into Bohne's Midi Translator Classic.  The iPad has TB Midi stuff installed and I set the application settings identical to your instructions.

I copied your Steel Beasts.tbms presets file into the documents section of TB Midi Stuff using iTunes as the interface for the file transfer as you instructed.

How do I instruct TB Midi Stuff program to find/open the Steel Beasts.tbms file? The only option that opens when I click on the white 'plus' icon on the TB Midi Stuff controls is to create a new preset from scratch.

The TB Midi Stuff user’s manual states that the white ‘plus’ icon controls "Add/Load/Import/Export Pages & Canvas Snapshots". How do I get the TB Midi Stuff program to use your file?

 

444033222_ipadsetup.thumb.jpg.99e8d92c4a146a02322087191df23e3c.jpg

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8 hours ago, Wax Savage said:

How do I instruct TB Midi Stuff program to find/open the Steel Beasts.tbms file? The only option that opens when I click on the white 'plus' icon on the TB Midi Stuff controls is to create a new preset from scratch.

Hi Wax—after you click on the white plus icon, are you able to drag upward? Further down the menu, you should see an option marked "Load Pages" under a submenu called ITUNES DOCUMENT FOLDER. You should click that, select the "Steel Beasts" preset, then hit the "Load" button at the top right.

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9 hours ago, Mezentius said:

Hi Wax—after you click on the white plus icon, are you able to drag upward? Further down the menu, you should see an option marked "Load Pages" under a submenu called ITUNES DOCUMENT FOLDER. You should click that, select the "Steel Beasts" preset, then hit the "Load" button at the top right.

Hi Mezentius,

yes, I am able to drag upward to “LOAD PAGES”. The ‘load pages bar’ will not open and the counter shows zero files available to load.

Yet, within iTunes I can see the Steel Beasts.TBMS file is loaded into TB Midi Stuff Documents.394920044_iTunesiPaddocfolder.thumb.jpg.72f91a3df34036e63cd327615a654672.jpg

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24 minutes ago, Wax Savage said:

within iTunes I can see the Steel Beasts.TBMS file is loaded into TB Midi Stuff Documents.

Ah ha—I think I see the issue. I believe you've dragged in a shortcut to the Steel Beasts.tbms file, not the file itself. (Notice that the file is currently only 8KB—the actual TBMS should be closer to 118KB.) It's very easy to do this accidentally in Windows due to the lousy iTunes interface.

 

I would delete the 8KB version in there now, and instead make sure that you drag in the actual TBMS itself. Let me know if that works for you.

 

(And if dragging always produces that weird shortcut, try the Add File... button instead.)

Edited by Mezentius
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On 27.10.2020 at 10:02, Lt DeFault said:

 

Привет! Недавно я начал учиться программировать приложения для Android. У меня уже есть проект, над которым я работаю, но теперь у меня есть идея для следующего.

This is great, I hope you start a next project soon.

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