Nintendo Joystick MIDI Drum Kit

Just a quick experiment to show that the NESpad library I wrote for the Arduino microcontroller actually works. An NES Advantage joystick acts as a mini MIDI drum pad.

Basically, it goes like this: The NES Advantage joystick is connected to the Arduino microcontroller. They communicate with each other through the NESpad library. When buttons are pressed on the joystick, the Arduino sends MIDI messages to a TASCAM US-122 MIDI-USB interface, to my MacBook, which is running GarageBand. The Arduino could also just plug directly into a MIDI keyboard, but I didn’t have that at my studio today.

This isn’t meant to be that useful, but it does show some interesting possibilities. It’s pretty cool how the “Slow” and “Turbo” buttons and the turbo speed dials on the joystick cause a barrage of sounds so fast that it starts to sound like a strange alien instrument instead of a drum or cymbal.

You can download my Arduino sketch. The MIDI part is mostly from Tod E. Kurt, who in turn stole it from Tom Igoe.

(By the way, don’t buy a US-122 – it is the only reason I ever see my MacBook crash)