My dream DIY sequencer (just a dream)

I don’t have a sequencer, and I’ve never had one, because I can’t afford the cool expensive ones and the DIY ones always seem to lack something. So I dreamt up my perfect affordable sequencer. I’m guessing it has deficiencies because I’ve never used a sequencer (might be missing some vital bits. And I don’t really know if it were affordable or doable. But a man can dream)

Main features:

  • 16 step-buttons each with their own LED

  • Those Nord-Lead style encoders with LEDs around them, I know they exist in a DIY format because someone here once linked to a place where you could order a pcb. I would cram as many of them as I could fit. These would be used to change parameter values.

  • X0xbox keyboard for easy note input (I hate connecting anything external, especially big keyboards).

  • Mininova-style octave buttons

  • A big LCD to show all the parameter values, navigate patches etc.

  • Price point max 200ish euros (again, I have no idea what I’m talking about, but it doesn’t have any expensive analog synthy parts)

Basic flow:

  1. Press a step button. Input notes, use encoder to change velocity/cutoff/whateverCC.
  2. Do the same for other steps.
  3. Press play! The main idea is that you can see the individual parameter values on the encoder leds change with each step.


1. It does chords (not sure how glide would work if the next step doesn’t have the same amount of notes, or if you want one note to glide down and another up).
2. SD-Card for pattern storage and what have you.
3. You can use step buttons and keyboard to input characters when saving patches.
4. A mode-button, once pressed, changes the keyboard into a bunch of buttons that do stuff. Stuff like, err, navigating the menu and what have you and whatnot.
5. It looks cool! Bright leds and and OLEDs and everything.

Things that could be changed because it’s not doable:

  • Smaller LCD

  • The encoder LEDs probably take a lot of room, so either make the pcb bigger or have less encoders.

  • Or just get rid of the LEDs and have regular encoders :c

Crazy things that could be added even if they’re not doable:

  • Multicolor LEDs. You could have the keyboard LEDs show which octave the note is played on (different intensities of one color, or say -3 red, -2 orange, -1 yellow, 0 green, +1 blue, +2 purple, +3 green).

  • Built-in midipal functionality.

Now someone make a kit! :smiley:

Sounds pretty good.
I would love a Mutable Instruments step sequencer in a similar format ( hint hint …)

A bit alike at least, MidiALF

watch out for the desktop GorF XL too …

> I have no idea what I’m talking about, but it doesn’t have any expensive analog synthy parts

The expensive parts are encoders, knobs, switches, etc. rather than “analog synthy parts” (huh? resistors? capacitors?) - and your project scores very high in this category.

I estimate the parts cost for this to be higher than the parts cost of Ambika (switches, encoders), and the development time quite high if you want to integrate all the kind of stuff sequencer users are asking for (there are no two people with the same needs in terms of sequencers, so writing a sequencer is like doing several sequencers, and some extra time spent trying to squeeze everything into a coherent design).

I sold the Ambika kits at 299€ and I stopped because it was absolutely not worth the pain. So there’s no way this thing is going to happen from me at 200€. If it ever happens, it’ll come from someone who has a highly paid day job and doesn’t mind getting no profit from it. Or from me, for at least 400€. For this price, it would need more features to make it worthwhile (multi-track? CV outputs?), which would move the price up. Probably high enough to be too expensive for a kit to be made.

A last thing: doing this sequencer would be pretty much like reinventing the wheel. Why should I do that? There are already projects with the same feature set and interface - MIDIbox SEQ V4 or Cirklon. What is wrong with them? “Too expensive” is the wrong answer - their price is absolutely fine.

And i dream of 6 Weeks of Vacation in a sunny area on a pool with cocktails with little umbrellas in it and Angelina Jolie as my personal Relaxation Coach ( i am not allowed to write Sex-Slave), a Maserati Quattroporte that only takes 3,5l/100km and a Mint PPG Wave 2.3 + Waveterm together with Wolfgang Palm teaching me how to use it. All this for 22,56€ which is what i have in my Jeans atm.

Now back to reality™.

Obviously you have only slight insight of what you are asking for; just to give you a brief glimpse of the price: calculate 1€ for each pushbutton, 30ct for each LED, 2€ for each Ecoder, 1€ for each Pot, , 22€ for each LED Encoder, 25€ for a usable GRaphics Display, 50€ for a PCB with premounted Processor, 60€ for a Case. Adds up to roughly 420€ alone for the parts for the Machine in your Picture. Without any development costs, prototypes, wrong parts, case prototypes and all the coffe & beer you need to make it work.

Now do you see why theres no 200€ Kit with your Specs???

Have a look at the Cirklon which is pretty much what you ask for minus the LED Encoders (which you wont miss), 2nd best guess is the MIDIbox stuuf or MIDIalf as mentioned above.

Or if you want DIY, check out the MBSEQV4

@pichenettes: Completely agree and I don’t think it would make sense to do something as big and complex as a midibox or Circklon either.
What I’d have in mind is more along the union of MIDIpal / 303 sequencer / sequencers of the Korg VOLCA, but with a sprinkle of MI creativity ( think Grids but for melodies or basslines ).
Basically something with a limited feature set but that is made to jam with, experiment and inspire rather than to create whole complex songs.

Guys, don’t get the wrong picture. I’m not actually assuming someone would make this, I’m just sharing my daydreaming, like people talk about their dream cars or whatever.

>There are already projects with the same feature set and interface – MIDIbox SEQ V4 or Cirklon. What is wrong with them? “Too expensive” is the wrong answer – their price is absolutely fine.

“Too expensive” stuff I meant stuff like Cirklon, which is £1000 pounds I believe? Not saying it’s too expensive for what it does as it is much more fancy. Those two however lack the xoxbox-style keyboard. Also I haven’t been able to find kits for the midibox stuff (might just be my crappy google-fu).

>Or from me, for at least 400€.

Frankly, I would probably pay 400 for such a unit. But then again who wouldn’t for their dream sequencer? But there probably wouldn’t be enough other people who would be satisfied with the price/feature ratio (like you said, no CV/multitrack etc.)

>Now do you see why theres no 200€ Kit with your Specs???

Like I said, I have no idea what I’m talking about (and I didn’t expect there to be a 200e kit anywhere). Now I have a better picture.

>All this for 22,56€ which is what i have in my Jeans atm.

Hey, I was only off by about 100-200%!

The MIDIbox is more or less for the advanced builder because of the encapsulated Documentation scheme the guys over there tend to have…

I think what you want is pretty close to a yamaha RM1X …

MidiBox Parts Kits and PCBs:

If you expect a full kit (a-la shruthi), you’re out of luck. It’s targeted towards a slightly more advanced group, with lots of customization options (depending on the builder’s needs)…

As for the xoxbox-style keyboard, you can always build one, or use an external midi controller.


And RM1X’s are quite cheap too, My bandmate just sold his for 250 canadian dollars, about 125 Pounds

Yeah, second hand RM1X or QY700… Or even, ahem, a MC-x0x - even if you don’t use the built-in synth you can route them to external MIDI gear and enjoy 7 tracks of step sequencing and 8 tracks of x0x drum programming, with a helpful arpeggiator for creating patterns.

Another thing worth trying: E-mu XL-7 / PX-7.

Or an iPad, although probably more expensive than what the OP was looking for.

+1 Midibox SEQv4. I just checked all of my invoices ect… It came in around $300.00. That includes the Core LPC17, AOUT NG, Quad MIDI, Control Surface, SD Card, all components, and an acrylic enclosure I designed. That’s one hell of a deal for such a robust sequencer.

$300 is a steal.

I think either Adafruit or Spark Fun have the components for the Nord style rotary LED pots. They are very cool, and expensive. I don’t think the new Nord Lead 4 even has them.

A behringer bcr2000 has 32 of them… you can pick them up for about €80. I don’t know if they are easy to remove and reusable.