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Post new topic DIY hand-operated expression pedal/ribbon controller idea
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Author Topic:  DIY hand-operated expression pedal/ribbon controller idea
Bryan Daste


From:
Portland, Oregon, USA
Post  Posted 6 Aug 2018 12:40 pm    
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Thinking about building some sort of hand-operated device that could sit onboard the steel and function like an expression pedal (I'm using a Kemper that has two expression pedal input jacks). Ideas I'm having include a ribbon controller, something like an X-Y Kaos pad, or simply a box with two knobs that I could attach to a leg and operate by hand. I can program the Kemper to react to the expression signals.

Has anyone done this? Can I pick your brain if so?
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Scott Duckworth


From:
Etowah, TN Western Foothills of the Smokies
Post  Posted 7 Aug 2018 3:19 am    
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The expression circuit probably just uses some kind of pot. My first that was something with a bi-directional paddle for the control, so maybe you could rock your hand on it...



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Michael Maddex


From:
Northern New Mexico, USA
Post  Posted 7 Aug 2018 6:41 am    
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An Expression Pedal usually has a single TRS jack and TRS cable. I suspect that the two outside terminals on the pot connect to the incoming signal and the wiper goes to return. By convention, ´R´ is return.

Good Luck with The Project! Cool
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Jon Light


From:
Saugerties, NY
Post  Posted 7 Aug 2018 8:33 am    
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I'm just throwing this at you. I have no idea what you would do with it and I haven't brainstormed it at all.

I have had one really nice pedal of theirs and one I didn't like but neither used this accelerometer device.

https://www.sourceaudio.net/hot-hand-3-universal-wireless-controller.html
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Bryan Daste


From:
Portland, Oregon, USA
Post  Posted 7 Aug 2018 9:27 am    
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The Hot Hand thing is cool, but what I'm really looking for is something less dynamic. Ultimately I'd like to put a couple things on knobs (or faders) that I could move during a performance, but would hold their position. For example, a reverb mix control, or a gain setting...when it comes time to solo, I could alter my sound by moving the knobs, play the lead, then return the knobs to their neutral positions.

Maybe I'm overthinking this. I could just build a two-knob device in a little project box that has two TRS ins/outs, which would interface with the two TRS expression pedal inputs on the Kemper. Then I could get one of those plastic thingies that lets you connect anything to the leg of the steel (anyone have a source on those?). Boom, done! EDIT: found leg mounts - https://bb.steelguitarforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=325136&highlight=leg+mount

If I wanted to get more complex, I could get some sort of micro-sized MIDI device with a few knobs, switches and/or faders that I could set up to do whatever I need...seems like everything I've found so far is either way too big, designed for foot use, or DJ use. Nothing has fit the bill yet.
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Last edited by Bryan Daste on 7 Aug 2018 9:44 am; edited 1 time in total
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Bryan Daste


From:
Portland, Oregon, USA
Post  Posted 7 Aug 2018 9:32 am    
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BTW, this idea was partly inspired by Russ Pahl, who has some effects built right in to his steel:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FdtvenGLWHw

I don't want to go that far, modifying the steel, but I'd like the functionality!
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Bryan Daste


From:
Portland, Oregon, USA
Post  Posted 7 Aug 2018 3:59 pm    
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Spent the afternoon building this little guy. I realized the Kemper can handle an expression pedal in one Exp input and a dual switch in the other, so the wheels started turning...

I used an old pot that I retired from a volume pedal after it started getting scratchy (not a problem here, since we're not hearing it - if the response seems spotty, I'll switch it out, but it works for now), and I pirated some cabling and TRS plugs from other defunct gear. Spent about $10 at the electronics store for the project box, two momentary switches, and a knob. Voila!

On the Kemper I can set the knob to control volume, wah, pitch, or a "morph" control that can change many variables at once. I have it set to morph. The switches can be assigned to anything switchable, so right now I have one set to tap tempo and the other set to turn on/off the "Stomps" (pre-amp effects chain). Works great so far!

Got a leg mount on the way from the SGF store, and I'm a happy guy! Smile
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Jon Light


From:
Saugerties, NY
Post  Posted 7 Aug 2018 4:19 pm    
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Same exact deal--a scratchy volume pedal pot--went into a small project box mounted on my steel. Mine is a post FX volume control so that I can drive distortion/od FX with full volume pedal signal but I can roll back the output to the amp in the event that the dirt pedal output settings are out of whack. For years I've dealt with rolling back the volume pedal when this happens with the predictable result that the entire color of the pedalboard changes. I've gigged 3 times with this little controller and don't want to be without it.

I have a friend who is totally going over to Kemper. I've been impressed by youtube demos.
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Bryan Daste


From:
Portland, Oregon, USA
Post  Posted 8 Aug 2018 11:37 am    
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The Kemper is really something! I may do a demo on my podcast.
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Tal Herbsman


From:
Wisconsin, USA
Post  Posted 8 Aug 2018 4:55 pm    
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How about this Bryan:

Analog Endeavors Expression Wheel (10K ; TRS) Boss, Strymon, Chase Bliss https://applink.reverb.com/item/3597168-analog-endeavors-expression-wheel-10k-trs-boss-strymon-chase-bliss?_aid=pla
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Tal Herbsman


From:
Wisconsin, USA
Post  Posted 10 Jul 2020 6:18 am    
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Now there's this:

https://www.ehx.com/products/cntl-knob

Inexpensive and useful.
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Travis Snyder

 

From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 23 Jul 2020 10:10 am    
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Hey Bryan,

I do this in two ways-- through an expression pedal controlled by my elbow and by a theremin that is creating control voltage, processed through a eurorack synth and attenuated so it can be fed back into the expression input of the pedal.

The first and simplest way is i run an expression pedal that I operate with my right elbow. That way I can play and control an effect simultaneously with my elbow. I use a trap percussion stand that clamps to the leg of my steel. The expression pedal is mounted so it's very easy to access with my elbow and doesn't get in the way of my playing.

The eurorack method generates control voltage using a theremin. I do a lot of my effects processing within eurorack but I have also sent it straight out to pedals. The key is to attenuate the voltage so it plays safe with your pedals. I do a lot of my effects processing within eurorack, but I also sometimes control pedals through their expression input. The key modules for this theremin setup are the doepfer theremin and the ALM Busy Circuits SBG. For a kaoss pad type experience I use the Intellijel tetrapad to generate the voltage. You can see that in the lower left corner of the rack that is pictured.

I snapped a quick photo of my setup in case it helps.


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Travis Snyder

 

From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 23 Jul 2020 10:27 am    
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Oh i'm sorry bryan. You said you were looking for something less dynamic. For that I use the tetrapad which you can select a level by touching on the y axis and have it lock wherever you touch. You can also slew between the changes which I find to be very musical. That being said, there are probably far more efficient ways to go about it than through eurorack. My bad for the overshare!
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Asa Brosius

 

Post  Posted 23 Jul 2020 1:24 pm    
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Also Russ Pahl inspired- I use two trs expression controllers by Saturnworks- there are a few companies that make something similar, and it looks like youre handy enough to make them yourself. I use one with a Flint for reverb decay- it's nearly limitless wide open, and simple to dial back- cannot express how useful this has been. The other is for mix on a Timeline- same idea, gets less use. Here's a shot of one- double Velcro against the endplate, rests on the 1/4" cable-in- I tried placing it all over the steel on a month run last year and settled on this- easy on and off but stable. If I used the control in the delay more live, I'd house both pots in a single box, same Velcro, maybe recess it a little to sit better on the 1/4" cable.

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