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How-To: USB MIDI Controller with Teensy

little-scale writes:

The aim of this post is as a starting point for making your own DIY MIDI controller. Although many MIDI controllers can be purchased off the shelf, there may be times when a DIY approach is more economical or more appropriate in terms of specific design and mapping.

This is one of the simplest MIDI controllers that I can think of – it is just a pot (i.e. “knob”) that sends USB MIDI continuous controller data on CC#1, channel 1.

Hardware needed:
• 1 x Teensy board with pins
• 1 x USB A to B mini cable
• 1 x 100kΩ B-type potentiometer
• 1 x mini breadboard
• 3 x breadboard jumpers (can use a jumper kit for instance)

Software needed:
• Arduino IDE
• Teensyduino
• A digital audio workstation (DAW) such as Ableton Live



The Teensy is a complete USB-based microcontoller development system, in a very small footprint! All programming is done via the USB port. No special programmer is needed, only a standard “Mini-B” USB cable and a PC or Macintosh with a USB port. This is the latest version, 2.0.

Key Features:

  • USB can be any type of device
  • AVR processor, 16 MHz
  • Single pushbutton programming
  • Easy to use Teensy Loader application
  • Free software development tools
  • Works with Mac OS X, Linux & Windows
  • Tiny size, perfect for many projects
  • Available with pins for solderless breadboard

Comes with assembled Teensy board (ATmega32u4 with bootloader preinstalled) and header to allow easy breadboarding. We suggest using AVR-gcc (like WinAVR) with the LUFA library or ‘Teensyduino’ Be sure to check out the multiple resources available at PJRC!


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