With its touchscreen input, compact size, internal Nintendo-style synth, and wireless Internet connection, the Nintendo DS has a lot of appeal for music use. The challenge is how to hook it up to a computer. TheRain has a hardware hack called DSMIDI: with a little soldering and hacking, you can connect the DS to a standard MIDI cable via a cartridge.

DSMIDIWiFi goes much further, though: without picking up a soldering iron or connecting a cable, you can use your DS as both a synth and a controller, all over the DS’ WiFi connection. And now, the good news: the software is finished, and the solution is a free download away:

DSMIDIWiFi — Wireless MIDI for the Nintendo DS [Project site, instructions, and download]

In case you haven’t seen it, here’s the video demo:

Server software on your Mac, Windows, or Linux computer translates the WiFi data into MIDI messages for use with whatever music or visual software you like. (As I observed on Create Digital Motion, this could make the DS a very drool-worthy wireless controller for VJs.) Three applications are included, two for control and one for synthesis:

  1. X/Y “Kaoss Pad” controller: The must-have for the DS, you can turn the touchscreen into an X/Y controller. This to me is especially exciting, as it’s a natural for the DS hardware and the units are small enough that they could be propped on a keyboard, etc.
  2. Keyboard controller: A MIDI keyboard controller sends notes, pitch bend, and MIDI controller adjustments via an on-screen keyboard. Sure, you might not want to use this to replace a hardware keyboard, but it could be great for programming and for controlling other things (triggering clips, running visuals, etc.).
  3. DS Synth: The internal sound generator provides vintage Game Boy-like sounds. Now, I know purists prefer the original 8-bit Game Boy, but I kind of like the idea of bringing chiptune music into the 21st Century … especially if means I can rationalize buying a DS Lite. Erm, I mean … uh … going wireless.

The software is the creation of TheRain and Tobias Weyand, the creator of NitroTracker. The good news for you programmers out there is that they’ve completed open-sourced the code, so you could use this as the basis of your own wireless Nintendo DS creations.

Next up: hacking the Wii. (Any takers?)


Wireless Nintendo DS Synth and Controller

Mobile Music: Tracker for Nintendo DS, DS Homebrew Music Roundup

And, since you’ll need a way of running this (just as with any homebrew software for DS):
Homebrew Music on Nintendo DS, Now Easier with DS-X Update; LEDs Dance to Music

  • anders steele

    wow – amazing work Tobias and Collin.

  • Oli

    wow! the possibilities are overwhelming. though man i hope someone codes a floating point EQ interface ala that pricey Lemur control. it would be nice to DJ with Live 6 (EQ8) and two DS's. especially if they give visual feedback on clip automation.

  • There's no reason that wouldn't be possible, Oli; all of this is based on existing, open DS WiFi libraries. Of course, for greater accuracy we'd need another way of routing in data on the destination end, as many MIDI assignments in software (as in Ableton Live) take only 0-127.

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  • Tyler

    As a Kaoss pad replacement, I do not think a DS is the way to go. The kaoss pad has not only two axis for controlling paramaters, but the y axis can be slpit into to seperate controllers, as well as there being a another "X+Y" controller. A diaganol controller. In esscence, there are 4-5 MIDI controller paramaters the Kaoss pad has. Its not simply a X/Y, controller.

  • oh my gosh you have absolutely no idea how much i've been wanting something like this to come out. To be honest, looking for something like this is what had me stumble upon CDM in the first place… i am so excited…. but less talking, i have my computer and my ds with me and i must try it right now

  • Tob

    Tyler: Sure the DS is no match for the original kaoss pad that was specifically designed for this purpose, but actually the things you mentioned are all possible with the DS too. Adding the X+Y / diagonal control /split Y-Axis to Kaos DS should be a matter of minutes. Theoretically you could even measure the pressure on the touch screen and use that as another controller.

    Thank you all for your nice comments, I hope you will find this useful 🙂


  • Can the buttons and joystick control also send midi? that would be very helpful for vj style control.

  • Teej

    Tob: First, Thank You for this awesome piece of software and please keep up the great work. Also, I'd really love to see pressure sensitivity added as controller data as well. I'm actually in the process of making my own interface using Quartz Composer and a Wacom tablet for the simple fact that QC happens to have a nice little module for tablet input (pressure, angle, X,Y, etc) as well as MIDI. Would be absolutely killer to have this on my DS Lite as well. Thanks again!

  • Tob

    Daryl: Yes that's absolutely possible and should be a no-brainer to implement.

    Teej: Cool that you're also working with Quartz Composer and pen-driven input. I guess switching between the Wacom Module and the MIDI input should be no problem, except for the DS being less precise of course. I'll try looking into touch sensitivity, but it's a little tricky.

  • sarmoung

    Looks very nice. I've always wanted an easy way to hand out something small that an audience could use, not to mention an conveniently small wireless instrument. Didn't Kraftwerk pass around small keyboards once upon a time?

    It looks easy enough, but technically I'm a bit dim! Would a DS and laptop communicate directly once set up or would you also need to have Airport or similar working (and online?) to maintain the connection?

  • Tob

    sarmoung: You need a standard wireless network for this. "Ad-hoc" mode (peer-to-peer wireless lan) does not work with the DS so far. So the short answer is, you need an access point (or wifi router, whatever you might call it) to connect your DS to your computer. But some wireless adapters (for example the ones found in current Apple products) can also emulate an access point, so if you have such a card, no hardware access point is required.

  • Adrian Anders

    Hey Tob, next version man. Breath controller MIDI and/or audio routing from the DS mic. That would be awesome.

    I love the lo-fi sound you get from the DS microphone when using it with electroplankton. I wouldn't mind setting it up as a real down and dirty mic during a studio session. Putting a DS right up against a guitar cab would certainly turn a few heads. 😉

    Not to mention using a DS as a cheap expression controller with wind synths that use breath controller MIDI. Go totally wireless with a strap-on wireless keyboard, and a DS attached to your head. You would look like a total idiot, but damn it would be fun!


  • this is awesome

    and with this product
    i will definitely buy a ds!!

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  • in fact the ninja one seems to be less compatible than the ds – extreme (but its cheaper) especially for homebrew running

    check those compatibility lists :

    ninja ds

    ds extreme

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  • Wow! This is amazing, and actually just the sort of thing that I have been dreaming of using for my personal life long goal of creating … Does anyone know where to actually purchase something like the ds-xtreme that was mentioned here awhile ago? Also, I only have a mac. I even searched ebay but to no avail. Some folks close to me (like my mom), want to buy me something for christmas…

  • wudeekfu

    great idea. i love it. i just cant get it to work. the ds is connected to the computer. ive got dsmidiwifi running. ive got loopbe1 open and on. i just cant find a program that will work. tried like five or six different programs, and ive got nothing.i enable loopbe1 on every program and nothing is happening. no sound from my ds. it even says i was connected. help me.

  • Friggin sweet. No idea how you figured it out or what you did too get it too work, but that is pretty cool. Hope to be able to make my DS to that someday.

  • can you use a blue tooth wireless device? if you can how can you find the ds ip addres. sorry for asking but you are the only one i found that has showed me that you can connect you computer to your ds. I am using windows xp pro will it pick it up. if not I have linux 9.0 red hat.

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