DIY Entertainment Technology


This post will be updated with all the latest build photos and such.

  1. The parts start arriving (Motor Faders in this case) – better get cracking on construction.
  2. CNCing out the capacitive buttons using a Denford CNC milling machine.
  3. See (2).
  4. The reason we’re using a floating head and not trying to use the CNC to cut the boards to size.
  5. A completed button board wired up to one of the Sparkfun capacitive boards, following the guide here. – The board eventually stopped working as the internal i2c pullups were sending through 5V. In later versions, I’ve disabled the internal pullups and now pull-up to 3.3V.
  6. CNCing the panels for the faders to be mounted in.
  7. The reason we decided to use acrylic – cooling is an issue with aluminium.
  8. A fader panel with motor faders mounted and all wired up, spaghetti-style.
  9. The wooden case coming together with a fader panel resting on it.
  10. The wooden case completed with a black panel of acrylic mounted on the base. The motherboard is now mounted securely into the acrylic base panel. The other components are yet to be mounted.

Photos yet to be uploaded: functioning Fader Module Slave IC.


Note: please see this amendment with regard to the price comparison mentioned on HaD.

Hi All,

I’ve designed a 36(+) channel lighting controller with the ability to record to preset faders. If you’re familiar with lighting consoles, think along the lines of an LSC MaXiM L.

This design uses:

  • An X86 PC running the application logic
  • 6 fader panels, each of which includes:
    • 12 standard or motorised faders (3 motorised panels, 3 non-motorised)
    • 12 capacitive touch “flash” buttons
    • 12 indicator LEDs
    • 2 Motor-control chips (i2c to 6x ADC + 6x PWM + 6x GPIO)
    • 1 i2c to 12x GPIO IC
    • 1 i2c to 12x Capacitive touch sensor IC
    • 1 Master microcontroller – translates higher-level instructions to lower-level instructions for the 4 slave ICs and participates in an i2c multi-master network with the other fader modules and the X86 PC.
  • A menu / control row at the top of the console including:
    • 2x 7-segment displays to indicate the “page” of each bank of faders
    • 1x 16×2 LCD display to display the menu system
    • 17x capacitive touch buttons for menu navigation / console control
  • DMX output from X86 PC (view + controller)

This is implemented using:

  • The guts of an old IBM dual-core Pentium ThinkCentre
  • 3x ATX power supplies (to provide enought current for the motors)
  • 20x Atmel 328Ps with Arduino bootloader, as:
    • 6 fader panel controller ICs
    • 12 i2c to 6xPWM+6xGPIO+6xADC chips (because they are the cheapest chip I could find to function as such, without learning a new PIC system)
    • 1 menu system controller (running 2x 7-segment 1-digit displays, 1x 16×2 LCD display and up to 24 capacitive touch buttons)
    • 1 RS232->i2C bridge for communication between the X86 PC and the multi-master network
  • 8x Sparkfun i2c capacitive touch ICs (these)
  • 8x MCP23017 i2c-to-GPIO ICs for the LEDs.
  • 36x ALPS RSA0N11M9A07 100mm motorised faders (these)
  • 36x non-motorised faders.
  • A DIY enlosure made from 3mm black acrylic with a wooden internal frame (with the help of a CNC router).
  • ENTTEC DMX USB Pro widget, internalised

To explain the setup graphically, here‘s a Gliffy diagram I prepared earlier.

This is what I have constructed and am now in the process of documenting it. I may set up a Google Code page for the code powering this console.