Ever Hear of an Arduino? / LED Lighting

So I’m going to throw this one out to you. Did you ever hear of an Arduino before?  Neither had I, until I began the build for this guitar.  Here’s how it all began…

I was on the search for a good LED backlight for the body of this guitar.  You see, the LED lights from the KAOSS Pad are not attached to the touch screen, and are built onto the PCB board for the base unit.  This means that I’m going to have to create my own lighting for this thing to look REALLY cool.

After searching the net, I found a site called MakerSHED.com.  This is a very cool site for the at-home do it yourselfer, and has a TON of great parts for lighting.  I managed to locate one LED unit that has a programmable, three color light shift:

For only $13, I can buy this unit, and program it to color shift a variety of color and rhythm patterns.  Much cooler than just having a static blue or green led backlight, right?  So after getting my heart set on this cool new feature, I read the technical specs and find out that I need an Arduino Programmable Microprocessor IO Board.  Huh?  Well this is an Arduino:

After researching this little toy, I find out that Arduino have revolutionized the at-home DIY scene.  It allows people like myself to program electronic interactions, for things like smart LED blinkers, with relative ease.  The only downside to this is that an Arduino is another $39.  The upside to this is that once you’ve programmed the LED light, you don’t have to fit the entire Arduino in the body of the guitar.  Like a certain television salesman always says, “set it and forget it”.  So now it’s math time: $13 for an LED + $39 for an Arduino (that I’ll probably use once or twice) = much more than I wanted to spend on a lighting solution for this guitar.  
So I turn to eBay.  Apparently you can purchase Arduino from Hong Kong resellers at STEEP discounts.  For this kit, I ended up saving about 70% off of retail.  Granted, the Hong Kong “Arduino” is probably an excellent forgery, but the reviews I’ve read say they function exactly the same.  Gotta love those “low cost” alternatives!

Glitter is Expensive!

I never thought I would hear myself say this, but ‘glitter is expensive!’

My goal for the look of this guitar is to finish it in a way that befits the big, illuminated, KAOSS Pad near the tail.  After researching a wide variety of ways in which you can finish a guitar, I decided to do a black sparkle on black paint, heavily lacquered look.  I purchased black chrome hardware to replace the original ‘standard’ chrome pieces.  Also, I plan to offset the color of the body and hardware with a white pickguard, similar to Eric Clapton’s  “Blackie” guitar.

The main reason for this post (again, out of order), is due to the fact that I’ve been trying to order everything that I need so that I have it for when I am ready.  I hate waiting on mail order delivery, especially when I find I have an hour of free time here and there to work on the project.

I’ve been reading a GREAT form post by a custom guitar builder, who gives some step by step instructions on finishing a guitar with a great sparkle finish, and so I’m going to use his method.  After researching sparkle paint online, I found this retailer that sells just about every color imaginable.  The only downside is the cost.  $24 for 4 ounces of black aluminum flake sparkle!  I guess the old adage holds true in that that ‘you get what you pay for, and you have to pay for quality…’  I settled on the jet black aluminum flake, 0.008 Hex Size, 4 ounces total.

It’s difficult to get a true sense of the color of the metal flake, but you get the idea…

Ripping Apart a Korg KAOSS Pad [Without Killing It]

Now that I’ve already let the cat out of the bag (previous post), I will be reconstructing exactly how I managed to get the touch pad out of Korg KAOSS Pad without damaging ANY of the incredibly small and delicate internal bits.

The first step is to remove the back plate of the unit. This is done by removing the four screws that hold it in place. Please note, you probably should find a safe place to keep all of the little bits that you take out of the unit, as you WILL be reassembling it at some point in the near future.

Now you are faced with an incredibly complex looking internal unit. The various write ups I’ve read feature some variants regarding how the internal PCB boards look, and mine was no different. From the picture below, you can see that the innards of the unit are divided into four separate PCB boards, all of which must be carefully removed in order to gain access to the touch pad.

In my case, it was easiest to remove the components in the order numbered in the picture.

  1. PCB 1 was fastened with two screws.  Remove them and set them aside.
  2. PCB 2 was also fastened with two screws.  Remove them and set those aside, as well.
  3. PCB 3 was fastened with six screws, three inside of the unit, and three more on the outside back of the chassis, plus the grounding screw (picture below).  If you haven’t figured it out what to do yet, stop reading and take up a different hobby.

    Once each of the above boards were unfastened, you are able to bend them out of the way.  Note, they will remain physically attached by the gray, pliable, ribbon cable that you can see in the pic.  Bend them carefully out of the way in order to gain access to the screws for PCB 4.  PCB 4 is secured by a total of nine screws.  Make sure you find them all, or the board will crack when you attempt to remove it from the chassis.  Note:  All of the screws for each of the PCBs are the same size.  Don’t worry about keeping them separate from each other, as they are interchangeable. 

    Before you remove the PCB boards from the frame, you must first disconnect the KAOSS Pad controller ribbon from the main controller board.  As you can see from the picture below, the pad is attached to a white connector that is in plain sight.

    To remove this connector, simply grab both ends, and gently work apart.  Note, you will encounter a good deal of resistance.  Don’t fret, just be persistent and they will come apart.  Be very careful you do not crack the connector that is attached to the main system board!  Once the connectors have been separated, you can then feed the ribbon cable through to the back of the unit.  You will need the white connector later, so put this somewhere safe.

    Now you must carefully remove the innards from the main housing of the KAOSS Pad.  Like the first three PCBs, you will not be able to completely remove this as the wire that powers the external numeric display attaches the boards to the frame.  You will have enough slack in that wire, however, to rotate the PCBs out of the way of the touch pad mounting brackets.

    Once you’ve rotated the PCB boards out of the way, you will see the back side (this sounds dirty) of the touch pad controller.  The controller consists of three separate components, mounted to the frame by four brackets.  Remove the two screws that secure each bracket, and you should be able to easily remove the touch pad control layers from the face of the unit.  I, immediately, put these control layers into a ziplock baggie to prevent dirt or dust from fowling them up.

    That’s it!  Your touch screen is separated!  Now you can use it to measure and mark the body of your guitar in preparation of cutting a big hole in it…  Feel free to put the main KAOSS Pad back together, with the understanding that you will have to pull it apart again to solder new control wires and connectors at a later time.

    Posting out of order – Routing the Guitar Body

    Okay, so my laziness has gotten the better of me. After a several week hiatus from this project, I’m finally moving forward. You will notice that this post is coming out of order, though. Over the past week, I spent some time here and there disassembling the KAOSS Pad in order to remove the touch screen. During this process, I failed to take any pics, so I’ll have to go back and recreate the procedure at a later date. Below is a sneak preview.

    In the meantime, I was VERY eager to begin cutting into the guitar body, and so I went out and purchased a Dremel this past week. Also purchased was a special “routing” tip, which was completely worth the extra $8.95 on top of the main kit.

    I’m sure many of you reading this are going to groan when you see that I routed the entire cavity with a tiny Dremel tip, well I don’t want to hear it. I wasn’t about to purchase a $250 plunge router so that I can use it one time. The Dremel is MUCH more versatile, and will be much more handy when it comes to the minor finishing touches of this project.

    The first step was to measure out an area that would provide not only enough space to fit the touch screen, but will also provide enough overlap area for the finishing trim piece. The last thing I would want to find is that the trim piece would hang over the bottom edge, or bump up against the bridge. In the pic below, you can see where I lay out the position of the bridge (curved) piece, and then measure in the area for the touch pad.

    Initially, I realized that the pad was WAY off center from the bridge, and slightly rotated, so I sanded the pencil lines off and started again. Now, after checking the measurements about three times, I was ready to go. I made a few test cuts on some scrap wood to be sure I understood how the Dremel would kick, and to properly set the cutting depth on the tool. Once this was done, I lined up the tool with a yard level as a straight line guide and made my first cut, into the body of the guitar.

    Success! Now repeat three additional times to outline the cavity. Note, the depth was set to very shallow in order to get the proper shape.  I found that the deeper you attempt to cut into a piece of wood, with a routing bit, the more of a chance to took that the drill would kick in an odd direction, or gouge the wood around your actual cutting area.  I decided to take the safe route and would later work the cavity to make it as deep as necessary.

    In this step, I cut a shallow ledge that would allow the edges of the touch pad to rest [almost] flush with the surface of the guitar body. Don’t worry about the rough edges. Remember, a trim piece will cover this, so it’s not necessary to pretty this up.

    Here it is with the screen in place. Finally, the project is taking shape!

    You can see from the close up that I need to do some minor cutting in order to get a better fit for the KAOSS pad, but at least the major demolition work is now done!