8 Step Sequencer

After proving myself that I could build a 4 step sequencer, I decided to move further and put it on a prototyping board, this time with 8 steps, and start messing with MIDI parameters like Velocity and Gate.

Because time is that precious thing, and this is being done after labour hours, I just soldered jumper wires to the components going directly into the Arduino headers, I really wanted to start programming this thing.

Such a crazy setup also means that hardware debugging will be a nightmare, I guess I have absolute faith in my soldering and wiring skills :D I totally disencourage anyone to approach a project this way, but anyway, do as I say not as I do..

The following video shows a quick test drive. The arduino sends MIDI messages to an Axoloti Core through MIDI, witch is the instrument being played.

4 step sequencer

Messing with the Axoloti board made me want to bang constantly notes while I am fiddling with sliders, values and parameters. First I started to bang MIDI notes using Live, but something didn’t feel right. I wanted to get rid of the computer, so there is no fun in having the computer generating notes. I ended up using an Arduino to bang some random MIDI notes, but this was also feeling weird.. I wanted more control over the notes, so let’s add a potentiometer to control the note’s pitch?
Ok, now I have two potentiometers, one for the time interval and another to specify the note pitch. This worked for the first 10 minutes, after this I was adding more pots, more buttons and even LEDs, and with a simple program, my first Step Sequencer was born.


I’ve been playing with music tools for ages, most of my experiments are related to digital tools like MAXMSP, Propellerheads Reason, Ableton Live, and VST’s, but for the last year, I started to need to put the computer aside because I am very tired of computers. Digging on the internet for hardware DIY synthesizers I stumbled upon the Axoloti board. It’s a hardware PCB, where you can create your music instrument the way you want. Of course, you will need a computer to program the board, but once it is programmed it works standalone, has MIDI in and out ports, can act as MIDI USB host, SD card support, and it has a bunch of GPIO’s to add physical devices like sensors, buttons, potentiometers and LEDs.

As for the software side, depending on what you want to do, it is where you will need patching knowledge. You can create a sampler, a loopstation, a synthesizer, almost anything you can imagine it can be done with the Axoloti. Since I am not very keen to audio synth programming I feel limited in capabilities, so I use to dig in the forums for something related to what I want to do, and start from there. It also has a very extensive library with tutorials and user-contributed examples which is a great place to start.

Once you open a patch this is what it looks like, sometimes it will become messy, more like spaghetti in hell. Due to being a visually driven person, I tend to align objects in a visual manner, with equal spacing between objects and so, which tends to add complexification to the creative process.

Aside from this, the Axo board has a very crisp sound, and if you like to mess with frequencies, harmonics, sampling and modulation you will become quite addicted to it, that’s for sure!