How to make a DMC MIDI Controller Pedal!

I’ve had some questions about building the pedals, so I thought I’d take some pics as the next batch was built.

For the most part, I purchase my custom colored enclosures already powder-coated.  The vendor I use does a great job and produces results that I can’t match, but it does mean I have to drill holes in finished metalwork.  Here you can see that I carefully tape up the box and the back to avoid damage to the finish.

Masking the finish

This is going to be a DMC-3XL, and you can see that the inside is marked with the expression configuration – in this case “LR” means this will be a DMC-3XL left roller.

Marking holes

Next, the drill holes are marked with a center-punch.  I have plastic templates for the most common configurations, but custom orders get measured and marked by hand.

Build plan for the DMC-3

All new designs get a build plan – this one is for the DMC-3.  It shows hole patterns and PCB placement in the box.  The DMC-3 is pretty full, so it’s important to get everything placed in the enclosure exactly right or the box won’t close.

After the holes are marked and punched, the enclosure is drilled.  The back gets four holes for PCB mounting which are counter-sunk to leave a smooth surface for Velcro.

Back panel drilling

Back panel countersunk

The front of the box gets drilled next.  These holes aren’t as critical as the back and rear edge but they do have to be within 0.075″ for everything to work.

Top holes drilled

Finally, the rear edge holes are drilled.  The USB and power holes are critical, since they have to line up with the PCB placed in the enclosure.  If the holes are off, the power and USB plugs can’t reach the on-board jacks.  On the DMC-2, DMC-3XL, DMC-4, and DMC-6, the MIDI port is on the PCB as well and so all three holes have to be spot-on for the pedal to work.

Rear panel holes drilled

The PCBs in the above picture are “dummies,” and have just the connectors populated.  I use these as alignment tools to make sure the finished PCB’s will be correctly aligned with the drill holes.  The brown marker on the rear edge is a reminder to “drill the holes on this side!”  If I don’t do that, sometimes the boxes get drilled backwards…

Once the boxes are all drilled, it’s time to put the LEDs and footswitches in the enclosures.  The LED bezels are press-fit, then the LEDs are installed and secured with hot glue.

LEDs and footswitches

The LEDs are wired at this stage since the footswitches will partly cover them inside the box and it’s easier to access the wiring before the switches are in.  The footswitches are then installed.

Inside view with LEDs and footswitches

On the DMC-3 and 3XL, the center switch has to be installed at an angle to clear the RGB LED and the on-board connectors.  The rest of the wiring gets installed at this point – one wire for each footswitch, a grounding buss, and the ribbon cable and RGB board for the RGB LED.  These are landed on the PCB screw terminals and the wiring is bundled with wire ties.  On the DMC-3, the MIDI jack is screwed to the enclosure and wired to the PCB.

Wiring view

Finally, the pedal is closed and programmed via USB.  The pedal is tested to make sure all switches work and that the MIDI port works correctly.

Finished pedal

It takes a fair amount of time to build each pedal, and I appreciate your patience.  We should have build times down to 2-3 weeks by the end of the month if all goes well.  For those of you buying the DMC-PCB, I hope this gives you an idea of what you’re up against 🙂

 

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