2D drawing software is hard enough to use; usually when you think of 3D the word “impossible” comes to mind. But SketchUp, now available from Google in both a commercial and powerful free version, is different. It’s easy enough for non-illustrators to use for creating accurate DIY designs with dimensions, whether you’re working on DIY hardware or just planning a remodel to your studio.

Eoin Rossney has been working on designs for a new live performance music controller, and has put together some first sketches in SketchUp. It’s the first time he’s used the program; it really is that easy. Hopefully these sketches will inspire you not only to try out SketchUp but start to populate Google’s public 3D library with models useful for music DIYers:

Here are the pics of my first attempt at a Live controller design. This was really just done to familiarise myself with Sketchup and try out a few ideas. I’ll probably try a few more concepts before reality sets in and I have to start designing according to the real-life proportions of the components.

Thanks for pointing me to Sketchup – it’s working out great! I don’t think people realise quite how easy it is to design this stuff now, I certainly didn’t!

I had a look earlier around the 3D Warehouse which is a place where you can share Sketchup designs. There’s not a huge amount up there in terms of musical stuff but I did find a model of one of the Faderfox units, which looks like a photo mapped to a wireframe model. I can’t send it to you at the minute but a quick search should turn it up.

It’d be cool if people started posting up their designs on the Warehouse. Apart from full models you can share individual components which would be really handy for the likes of midi DIN/USB sockets etc. I’d like to do stuff like that but maybe sticking to the specs from catalogues so that the dimensions help in judging how much space you need.

Thanks, Eoin! So, how about it? Can we fill the 3D Warehouse with useful DIY models? (More images after the break.)

  • groffhibbitz

    can you really have a button that switches between the 3 browsers in ableton? Just curious or if that was on your wish list.

  • I think you'd have to map MIDI to a keyboard shortcut, yes? (But it should be possible, I think.)

  • Rozling

    Yeah MIDI -> keyboard is what I was thinking, using Autohotkeys to automate a click on the various browser icons. Only I haven't tested whether Autohotkeys will accept a keyclick from Bome or whatever the MIDI->Key application is yet…

    You can find a script which will do this and a bunch of other stuff here:
    – by now it was supposed to include all the good scripts that the Ableton forum-goers have written, but I kinda lost momentum. I can't believe that was July!

    Almost everything on this controller (and a lot more) is possible with scripting – in fact the only thing I can see being a bit of a challenge is the tempo LED as I think the tempo would have to be calculated onboard.

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  • bogon_flux

    If you're ready to script a DIY control surface why not give linux a try? I just read an entry on CDM with great content and comments. This looks like a very interesting project. I'm a computer engineering student with access to a lab and cheap PCBs, and I would love to create a hardware interface but don't have much experience with much more than a DJ setup and analog synth. Recently I've been trying various audio packages in Ubuntu (using JACK in realtime mode of course) but the lack of a tactile control surface makes live performance difficult. I appreciate the stability and speed of linux enough to never deal with windows on my computers ever again, and I recommend anyone who values these characteristics to give it a try. You've got nothing to lose using a live CD!

  • mjproc

    Why not look into http://www.ucapps.de and read abount the different traktor/ableton midi controllers… Thorsten Klose's MidiBox is one of the best DIY midi project around…

    Search the forum for ableton,,, and use your own design for the frontpanel..

    I am the prowd owner of a newly built Midibox SeqV2

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