The idea & Project pitch:
For my final Emerging Technologies project, I want to create and develop a live performance tool for myself, that I can use as a unique playable instrument at a live show. I aim to take a guitar hero controller and convert it into a midi controller device. I am hoping to open up the case of the guitar and use the Arduino/teensy inside.
My initial idea is to use the buttons already found on the guitar hero to trigger sounds. I also want to add a rotary dial within the design somewhere on the body of the guitar to change possibly the pitch or filter. I also want to add some metal wire through the frets of the guitar to give a larger range of sounds. Lastly the two buttons found near the bottom of the body, I want to convert into drum samples so, by pressing them you can create a beat using a kick drum & a snare.
V–Initial Idea diagram–V
Guitar Hero Development Process:
This picture is the guitar with no alterations or modifications made, this is the foundations and device I am going to be working with. I first looked into the possible idea if the guitar hero was usb, due to the alternative possibility that I could create a MAXMSP patch, then converting it into a midi device from there. After I was unable to achieve this, I set out on my initial idea, of which I was going to modify the guitar and run it through a teensy device.
I firstly opened up the neck of the guitar hero, to expose the circuitry of the inside of the neck. I then removed the fixture of the board and all of the wires found within. (hollowing it out)
I then realized the board attached to the inside of the neck held the buttons in place and was also how the buttons worked. It was difficult to figure out how I was going to make the buttons work with the teensy. After a long process of experimentation, I really couldn’t achieve this so, I then set out to think of other possible ways I could still achieve my goal. After a little while, I came up with the idea of covering the buttons in a metal substance, then running metal wires from them to the touch sensors in the teensy. This worked and give me the effect and functions I was after. I then tested to ensure the method worked.
Once I was happy and felt confident the buttons were functioning correctly, I moved on to achieve the touchable frets. By drilling small holes into the neck of the guitar I was able to push through small thin wire, which I positioned and pulled tightly against the fret ridges of the design.
I then moved onto removing the strumming function of the guitar hero, I did this due to wanting to be able to see the teensy and be able to turn it off and on directly. By opening up the body, I place the teensy inside then taped it down from behind, holding it firmly in place. The positioning of the teensy also allow for easy accessibility to be able to attach the running wire down from the neck of the guitar. By also removing the whammy bar of the guitar hero, I was able to run the wire from the teensy out through the empty hole. (where the whammy bar use to be).
Once I felt happy with all the alterations I made, I tested the overall product out several times and also got a friend to test it. I realised due to no dials or changeable effects the guitar didn’t quite have the overall impact I was looking, I knew it needed something else, as it was possible to do a lot more with it.
v-Testing Video Diary-v
Midi Xbox 360 Controller Process:
As I knew I really enjoyed creating and developing the games controller using MAXMSP and that was something I wanted to look into taking further, I come up with the idea of developing the controller into a midi device, which would then control and change the guitar hero, giving it a lot more possibilities and functionality.
I first began by taking my previously developed patch and simply expanding upon it. I looked into using MAXMSP as a midi device, I then went on to delete the functions of triggering sounds within my previous patch and replacing that function with midi send function within MAX.
Once I got the Xbox 360 controller fully functioning, I then started to midi map within Ableton. I colour coded the samples I used in correlation with the colours of the Xbox controller. I used start and back button on the controller to trigger percussion and the Y, B, A and X buttons to trigger samples and sounds. I also midi mapped the right (RB) and Left (LB) trigger buttons for one to allow me to loop any of the samples or sounds and the other to bypass or turn on distortion. I mapped the analogue sticks for one of them to change pitch/transpose and for the other to control the amount of distortion. This would work along side the playing of the guitar, allowing you to change the pitch and level of distortion of each note you play.
Final Product Testing:
I feel my project overall turn out rather well, and I personally feel I achieved what I set out to at the start of this project. The development of the project really challenged me to think of ways to over come obstacles, whilst not losing what I wanted to achieve. I feel I managed to scale down a rather complicated idea to my own technological level. So, I feel this was a personal success, in which I am happy with the outcome. If I were to do this again, I think I would focus more building upon the teensy and integrating the Xbox controller within in the guitar hero controller body itself. Overall I wasn’t too pleased with the final performance, I mistakenly brought an old template rather than the latest Ableton file. Due to this I felt it was more of a short demonstration than performance. So, If I were to do it again, I’d make sure I was more organised and practise more with the instrument in a improvised situation.