Prototyping the body of the Midi Step Pedal

A little while ago, I started figuring out general dimensions for the midi controller, essentially starting the build of my non-functioning prototype.

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First, I wanted to figure out a comfortable height and distance between buttons. I started by laying out some of the guitar pedals I already have. I spaced them out where I thought I would have comfortable room between buttons (and away from my expression pedal) for my foot. I found that my trigger buttons for my Fender amp had the best height and angle to the floor. I could easily and comfortably rest my heel and press the buttons. So I stole the dimensions.

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Pedal dimensions

I kept the dimensions logged in SolidWorks so that I could reference different dimensions and easily change them as needed. While I had the buttons open, I figured I’d peek inside and see what kind of switches Fender used.

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Fender uses 641-Series maintained pushbutton switches by Carling Technologies. Carling’s switches are heavy duty, but cost about $6 per button (10 cost $55). I wanted to stay focused on creating a low cost pedal board, so I did some shopping. Due to the Teensy being able to create the toggle on/off ability, I didn’t need a button that would snap in and out of the on position, a temporary connection would be fine.

The cheapest foot buttons I could find were these I found at AllElectronics.com. They are $2.75 each. I went with cheaper push buttons, however these may not put up with much abuse, especially the weight of someone stepping on it. I’ll have to be careful, but at $0.85 they are much less expensive. If I were to order again, I’d go with the foot switches.

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I created a physical prototype to see how it would feel and generally look. I keep a bunch of scrap cardboard and thick card stock on hand for prototyping. It’s cheap and easy to work with, and give’s you an idea of the space your project will take up. I actually feel that it is getting quite large, so I may eliminate two buttons and maybe one expression pedal for this build.

Designing the step pedal may be a bit trickier. I’m playing with a few ideas of how to include a sliding potentiometer in the build. Once I get the general design laid out in SolidWorks, I’ll figure out the materials and final dimensions.

Pedal dimensions 2

Pedal dimensions 3

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