How to Control the LEDs on a Novation Launchkey Mini II

I picked up a Novation Launchkey Mini II controller last year when I was working with those musical floppy drives, and recently I fell down the rabbit hole of Launchpad LED performance videos. That got me thinking: is it possible to control the LEDs on a Launchkey Mini like you can on a Launchpad?

There’s surprisingly little information about this. Novation’s user guide for the Launchkey Mini has no mention of how to control the LEDs. There is some information available in a “programmer’s reference” manual for the Launchkey II (not the “Mini” version), but sadly the LED components don’t function the same way.

It required a bit of reverse engineering and the result isn’t quite as pretty, but I’ve figured out how to do it.

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Playing Lucio with a DJ Hero Turntable

Earlier this year while I was hard at work on the Nintendo Extension Ctrl library, I challenged myself to try and support as many different types of controllers as possible. As a part of that I picked up a DJ Hero controller for the Nintendo Wii on Ebay for $10.

And then it hit me: with a little bit of effort, I could write some code that would allow me to play the character of Lucio in Overwatch using this turntable! So that’s exactly what I did.

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Nintendo Extension Ctrl Library

Late last year when I was putting the finishing touches on the McCree Hammershot project, I decided to use a Wii Nunchuk hooked up to an Arduino for the controller’s movement. Although I eventually got it working, I had to try a variety of libraries before I found one that would even read the data properly. Most of them were convoluted, bloated, or poorly documented. Even the library I eventually ended up using was designed for controlling motors with a Nunchuk, not for just reading control inputs.

It’s now many months later, and once again I’m looking to build at least two more projects using extension controllers. So I decided to fix all of these problems and just build my own library.

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Building a DIY Stream Deck (Mini Macro Keyboard)

I’ve been doing a little streaming on Twitch (hiya!), and a lot of streamers I follow have something called an Elgato Stream Deck. The Stream Deck is a small device with 15 buttons, each of which has its own customizable RGB icon. By configuring the bundled software, users can set button icons and macros to control your casting software, send messages in the stream chat, launch programs, and much much more.

Unfortunately the Stream Deck is out of my price range, at a whopping $149.99 retail.  Fortunately I think I can make something that replicates the basic functionality for a fraction of that price: what I’m calling a “Stream Cheap”.

Although I’m focusing on using this as a replacement for a Stream Deck, at heart this is really a custom macro keyboard. It could be used as a hotkey board for any program. I’m just using it for OBS and Twitch.

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DIY PC Footswitch Using a Sustain Pedal

A couple of years ago I picked up an inexpensive sustain pedal for an electric piano at a garage sale. The piano itself wasn’t much to look at, but the pedal intrigued me… it’s a basic on/off switch, but the pedal itself feels fairly robust and I thought it would be a handy switch to have around.

This past week I finally got around to doing something with it! I built a small box that converts the signal from the pedal into a keypress, allowing me to use this pedal as a foot-controlled hotkey for my PC.

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