Build a MIDI/FX Controller for Your Guitar with UDOO X86

The first guitar I ever picked up was a guitar synthesizer, with onboard MIDI. Despite a lack of amplification, it inspired me to learn the instrument; 30 years later, I’m still playing!

As a result, I find that guitar-based projects are almost always stunning, and this “enhanced guitar” – with on-board MIDI and FX controller – is no different. This project makes use of a specific device: the UDOO X86, an Arduino-compatible x86 maker board. Claiming to be the most powerful board of its type, this “next generation computer” is also capable of running software, as well as controlling projects.

If you haven’t already heard of UDOO, it’s certainly worth looking into. Different models are available, all with different architectures. The device in this project is one of the x86 boards, which cost $174 and $267 respectively, although cheaper, non-x86 boards are also available. As long as the board you use is capable of supporting the operating system, audio tools, and required processing, however, you should be able to manage with a cheaper version.

The aim of this project, by Ettore Chimenti, is to put MIDI and FX controls on a guitar without the use of pedals. Instead, the controls are accessed using a joystick board mounted on the UDOO.

Using Ubuntu Studio (a creative-focused distro of the popular Linux operating system), the UDOO X86 can be mounted on any guitar with sufficient space. A USB guitar link is also required, as is an Arduino joystick shield, for controlling the device. The UDOO X86 supports additional sensors if you want to install them.

With the software installed (specifically Arduino IDE and the ttymidi MIDI software from GitHub – Guitarix and Rakarrak are bundled with Ubuntu Studio), and the UDOO X86 securely mounted on your guitar, all you need to do is have a display running nearby to navigate the options. Find full details on the project page.

And let’s rock!


Christian Cawley

Christian Cawley spends a lot of time with Raspberry Pis and scours the web looking for interesting DIY electronics projects and news for ElectroMaker. He's currently trying to show his 7 year old son how to get to grips with Scratch, but so far to no avail.


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