Another DIY Keyboard

Hey people,

a few weeks ago I decided to do my next gigs with Cantabile. As I worked with MainStage before I needed to setup a windows computer for using C3. I had one laying around so I took it, added two SSDs and fired it up. It works nice!
Than I started to ask myself, what to put the mainboard, soundcard, etc. So I started to design a keyboard… and here it is!

As I was not sure which controllers I really need to work with Cantabile I installed a lot of things which I may kick out in the future.

Mostly it’s built-up with a lot of parts I had from former projects and ideas… so for the LED-rings and -bars. What’s in there:

  • 9 fader (non-motorized)
  • 9 LED-bars next to the faders
  • 8 non detented encoders on each side (the right side is not connected yet)
  • 8 LED-rings for the encoders
  • 2x8 buttons on each side
  • 1x8 buttons in front of the player
  • Pitch & Modwheel

The heart of the system is a mini-itx mainboard running an i5-3570k powered through a Seasonic SS250U. The soundcard is a RME HDSPe AiO with extensions for four in- and outputs (so 6in / 6out in total).
For the first two outputs I build a DI-box featuring LEHLE-transformer incl. GND-Lift, pad-switch and link-out.

The keyboard has four connectors for pedals (2x switch, 2x EXP).
All panels are removable. So if I want to do some changes on the controllers, I can simply create another frontpanel, put it in and I’m done.

The keybed is a 76key FATAR TP/40H with ivory-surface. It’s not available on the market and was exclusively produced by FATAR for me :slight_smile:

The keyboard also has removable wooden side-panels without any screws on the outside which creates a great and clean surface.

In the middle of the keyboard you see a 10" capacitive touchscreen. This is absolutely awesome and creates a “workstation-like” feel.

On the right I integrated a 4-port USB-hub and the HDMI-connector for the screen. The screen is removable… so if I like to put a keyboard on top, I can remove the screen and put it on top of the other keyboard or on a music-stand.

That’s it so far. As you can imagine it’s pretty tight in there… I which I would have done it a bit higher so the CPU-Fan f.e. has a bit more air to breath. Anyway: I ran Prime95 for 10min and everything stays cool enough… and C3 will hopefully never act as hard as Prime95 :slight_smile:
But still I have some problems with heat… especially the soundcard get’s quite hot. I think about adding a small fan on top of it… but I don’t know if that may causes noise in the audio-path… I’ll check that.

If you have any ideas or recommendations please let me know!! I really like to hear your feedback.



Hi Christian,

Beautiful work, I especially like the custom key-bed from Fatar. Great job on this!


Very Cool. I Love it!

Hey Christian…

Amazing work. Love it.


Constantly amazed by the talent and ingenuity around here!


Looks very professional!
I’m sure if you can sell these at a reasonable price, there is a market for it. If course you would need to buy the rights from the parts you’re using?
I just don’t understand the marketing from the big players. The first one offering this, in a modular way at a reasonable price will sell big time.
Neko wasn’t a success because the price was to high.


@So_Godly: You mentioned the point: Price!
The soundcard alone in my keyboard is at 579€ plus another 140€ per extension = 860€. If you add the costs for the mainboard, CPU, powersupply, RAM, etc. you will quickly be at 2.000€ ONLY parts… and thats without the midi electronic, work-time, etc. pp.

Of course you could use a standard USB-soundcard, thats a lot cheaper and more flexible. But those are very difficult to integrate because of the position of the connectors and / or (and that’s often the case) they have a big footprint (f.e. every 19" soundcard). Also it was important to me to not destroy the design by integrating a USB-card. The RME-PCIe is very handy in that… the extensions are directly mounted to the back panel…

Having this said: Sure… it’s an option to go on the market with it but it’s not a mass-product. The end-price would surely exceed the 5.000€ mark.
BTW: I took a look again at the NEKO-boards… god they are awful. :wink:

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Of course and those are consumer prices :slight_smile:

hi. I saw this project some days ago by Keyboard Manufakturer, a german house. It’s the same, did you collaborate? or maybe are you Chris? :slight_smile:

Yes I am :wink:
Good to hear that you liked my business on FB :wink:

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it’s a pleasure to have you here, we talked by mail some months ago for some info I asked you (61 TP8/O controller with drawbars). Hope you’re going far with your project, I really love what you create. Have a good prosecution!