I tend to use my rig in “stomp box” mode. I currently use a Nektar Pacer but I miss the scribble strips. I think the Mastermind GT/16 would be fantastic but it’s crazy expensive. I’m now looking at the Helix Control and wondering if it could be hacked to use it as a programmable midi controller. Does anybody have any leads on this idea?
A Google search doesn’t reveal much. Helix Control is likely using a proprietary protocol for communication. Something like a Morningstar controller would be a better option, and @Vindes has created a GP extension for it.
I looked around for a while (years, really) for something to replace my FCB1010 and settled on the Morningstar MC8.
There are not a lot of practical options if you want: A) multiple switches, B) decent displays, and C) the ability to control those displays by external MIDI. It’s really the Mastermind stuff (which is expensive), the Morningstar units, and one other small company I came across but can’t remember. At the time that third one didn’t have the functionality to do what I wanted.
At the time I bought the MC8 it couldn’t entirely do what I wanted it to do either, but the guy who runs the company (james on the Morningstar forums) is very good at taking features requests and implementing what makes sense. He’s been very responsive in fixing bugs that were exposed by the way I was using it and adding minor features to improve its usability as a GP controller. It’s almost GigPerformer level forum support and responsiveness.
The MC6 Pro is their newest, which has two less switches but adds very nice color displays. Immediately after release (I got one of the first batch shipped) it had some bugs that made it not work properly with my extension. James (the developer) literally went through like five versions of the firmware just with me to find and fix bugs in the two weeks immediately after product launch. As far as I can tell I was the only person using those particular features, so I was really blown away by his dedication to providing a great feature rich, bug-free product.
I do have a couple feature requests in for the MC6 Pro that would make it easier (feasible) to change display colors on the fly on a per-button basis, but they’re a small company so that will probably take a little time. I believe james does everything from design, programming, sourcing, assembly oversight [they build the units themselves on site] and support. Like the GP developers, he’s earned my highest respect, loyalty, and accolades.
Mastermind has a great reputation as well, and @dhj uses and likes (as far as I know) their stuff. It just wasn’t quite right for me.
I don’t mean to come across as a fanboy (of either GP or Morningstar). They don’t fit everyone’s needs. But I’m a Fanboy of entrepreneurs who create great products, support them well, take pride in their performance, and manage to stay in business in an environment dominated by cheaply made, mass produced, buggy, and largely unsupported crap. So when I get a chance to support those in a way that fits my needs, I usually do.
I love it – yeah, it’s expensive, but if you’re playing in a band, at least it’s a tax writeoff!
The fact that I can send sysex messages to it to set the labels as I jump around songs is awesome.
Someone also wrote a blog article