As you know, we have not only written it on the flag to develop DMXControl as lighting control software. In this context we also design new hardware again and again - like the DMXC USB Input Box in version 1.0, which is now presented in the following. After one of our members had to open a comparable device with eight inputs because of a defect and there was relatively little technology inside, the astonishment found its first origin. When the rest of the team was told the called-up price for the manageable amount of hardware, coupled with the fact that the configuration is done in a cryptic way even for professionals, a certain indignation made the price-performance ratio ready. Already this project was born.
You probably also have various use cases where an action on the PC is to be triggered with the help of a keystroke and a classic keyboard is not the appropriate means for this. Based on this history, our hardware team wanted to create a corresponding alternative solution with which one can flexibly bring one's own pushbuttons as keyboard commands into the PC with development boards already available on the market. An important mandatory feature in the specifications: the size and design of the pushbutton should be freely selectable.
With our DMXC USB Input Box you now get a kind of keyboard to which you can connect your own pushbuttons - a kind of large-key keyboard. This box is based on a widely available STM32 development board with a STM32 F103 C8T6 as controller, also known as "BluePill board". You can connect up to 16 keys directly to it. Which connectors you use for this (XLR, jack, RCA or something completely different) is up to you. These are connected to the development board accordingly. By default, you don't have to mount any additional components. For storing the configuration data, the board emulates an EEPROM. If you want to store them on a real "external" I2C-EEPROM of type 24LCxxx (min. 24LC01 or larger), you can switch this in the firmware.
Which keys and key combinations the DMXC USB Input Box should send to your PC can be defined in a small, clear configuration tool according to your needs in a graphical interface. Here you can not only define the key combination manually, but also record the desired key combination via a record function. Thus, changes are also possible at short notice in the Plug&Play principle. To make a change, you connect the adapter to your PC via USB and can use the configuration tool to read out, adjust and write back the current configuration without further settings.
Of course, our large keyboard works plug and play together with DMXControl 3. With it you can start common light and sound effects in fixed installations, or you build your own game show setup, where DMXControl 3 of course also executes corresponding light and sound effects by pressing the buttons.
You can find the project data here: DMXCP USB Input Box Project Data
You can find the firmware here: DMXCP USB Input Box Firmware
The BluePill board has to be programmed via a USB-UART converter with 3.3V level or a STLink programmer. Corresponding hints can be found numerous times in similar projects with this development board. Have fun with our new hardware project!
Your DMXControl Team