I've decided to build a Cantabile laptop case

I’ve been bringing my laptop, UMC202HD, Kensington USB Hub all strapped to an Onstage shelf that mounts onto a stand to open mic sessions and connecting via USB to a keyboard there. I’ve tried a bunch of solutions to manage the cables but it’s messy and has to be examined constantly for loose cables etc. I researched existing dj laptop cases, this one by SKB is very cool:


That is too big for me so I’m thinking of building a case 14" wide and 2 rack spaces in height when closed. When you open it up the top rack space is where the laptop will reside much like the above SKB case. The bottom will have a universal shelf like:


The front panel will expose the front of the USB sound module, the custom back panel will have connectors mounted for USB, MIDI out, MIDI in, XLR/TRS Left out, XLR/TRS Right out and IEC power. Inside on the lower level behind the USB interface will be the laptop power adapter, USB hub and patch cables for the back panel connectors. A mic stand connector will be embedded in the bottom of the case.

The purpose is to be able to securely transport the laptop, quickly place it on stage and be so simple a sound guy can connect it.

Any suggestions or comments welcome.


Sorry, no suggestions but I just loved your little remark there:

:rofl: :rofl: :rofl:

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Check out this rig by Steve K

As we all get older, we tend to find easier ways to lighten the load and reduce setup/load out time. There have been several threads here about that, but I applaud any ideas to make it easier. I just found out today that I have a torn meniscus in my left knee, and no doubt came from equipment moves. So, I will not be jumping off the top of my piano tonight. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

I no longer use a heavy amp, and the key controllers are lighter, and wheels have become my friend. I am also seeing a trend by venues in shorter load in/out times, and smaller stage area, which furthers the need for compact rigs. Thank goodness technology has moved so quickly to benefit us all.

But, of course, this technology is wasted on many sound guys. Ahh…the smell of clothing drenched in cannabis smoke, and breath of stale beer and cigarettes. They remain unchanged from day 1…including underwear…if worn.


Or diving over the organ with your arms on fire! Like the late great Keith E!

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My arms and fingers will be smoking at gig tonight, but no fire. The only diving I will be doing is onto the floor when my knee gives out. Another great senior moment for sure. Great entertainment everywhere I play.:wheelchair:

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I went to see the Fab Faux a few weeks ago at a venue in our town called the Warehouse. Will Lee is in his mid sixties and was channeling Pete Townshend on stage. Then he wended his way through the audience up to the mezzanine, across and back down, and then started walking across folding chairs all while playing “You Can’t Do That”. :grinning:

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I’ve seen a lot of ELP shows but I missed that one! :smiley:

Hey Fred, congrats on the new album!

I read about it in his autobiography, from my memory he and his key tech had rigged up a ribbon controller with a long wire that led back to the Modular Moog. They decided to go pyro technical and attached some firework type items to the end of the ribbon controller. The idea was to carry out an improvisation on the ribbon and shoot off the fireworks from the end of the ribbon, there was a serious miscalculation in the plan that led to his shirt sleeve setting ablaze. He was out front of the C3 and he dived over the organ trying to put out the fire. He said that he had to soak one of his burned arms and hand in ice water afterwards. I think he said he soaked it in ice water while playing the rest of the show with his good (better) hand. I would need to re-read for the exact detail, but roughly that is what I remember reading. I better not hear that you set the stage on fire at the next Glass Hammer concert …:rofl:



hi there, I was thinking to do the same thing, but I dind’t know where to begin.

will you do everything DIY?

I try my best not to reinvent the wheel and I study existing related formats too make sure there isn’t a reason my idea doesn’t exist. I have to admit sometimes these projects don’t end well but I don’t mind because the ones that do work out are rewarding.

The stages I’m on are small and setup times should not be much more than walking on stage and plugging in. I have been placing the mic stand my existing laptop shelf is on against the back side of the keyboard to my right so it cantilevers over the top of the keyboard. I don’t want the laptop more than 1u above the keyboard. I’m pretty sure nothing like this exists. I want the bottom shelf to be evenly perforated with mounting holes like the rack shelf I posted above so I might try using that as the base. It would be best if the laptop shelf on top is easily removable to get at the components. Then I want a removable top that latches on and protects and holds the laptop in place when transporting it. My biggest motivation is the flat panel in the back with all the connectors easily accessible.

That’s a nice looking case, a bit expensive but seems worth it. BUT, what are you going to put this on?

Here’s a picture of my humble but functional “practice and recording booth”. The 2nd bedroom in my apartment has this sliding door closet, half of which is my place to practice singing. It is in the middle of my apt so, with everything closed, no one can hear me and I can’t hear them. The tablet brings the backing tracks in (wirelessly if not already loaded); the speakers above are excellent; the headset lets me hear my external voice; and, I’ve got a digital recorder I use to review the results.

The proposed case will go on a tripod mic stand. I currently use this to click my exsting shelf on quickly:


Right now I’m using an Onstage laptop shelf with everything attached using zip ties. I want to enclose it and use short patch cables inside to reach a back panel of connectors. I’m pretty sure I’ll use this for the back panel (BTW, it’s also made by Middle Atantic):

Schweet! (that’s “Sweet” for non-native English speakers) It’s products like this that make me want to kick myself for not having thought of it. Thanks for sharing. Best of luck with your project.

Here’s my short design document:

Goal: A 1 rack unit enclosure the dimensions of a 15" laptop with a rear connector panel, IEC power connector, exposed front panel for UBS sound interface (I’m using Behringer UMC404 but any will work). The top will have small “grip pegs” to hold the laptop from moving on the horizontal plane. A thin top will latch on to hold the laptop in place when traveling with the case.

The sides and back panel will be standard 1 rack unit metal 1/16"

The top shelf will be perforated for universal attachment capability

The bottom will be solid 1/16th rack shelf metal - a mic stand female thread will be centered

The laptop cover that latches on the top will be what ever is lightest but protects.

Don’t know if this will work for you but I’ve been using this rig I made for several years now. You can customize it to fit your needs… I kept it fairly small, but if you want a patchbay you can mount it under the metal laptop plate (I put a wireless guitar receiver there) or just get a slightly larger case. I put my Scarlett 2i4 under the laptop plate, so all the connections are easily accessible in back. Best thing about it - it’s fast. I can be set up and plugged in within about 60 seconds. You can see photos here:

Not sure how I missed your post in The “Show me your Cantabile Rig”. Probably because I read it before I was doing open mic’s and the challenge of quick setup. Your solution is close to what I’m trying to do. I’m currently using a laptop shelf with everything zip tied underneath. It’s hard to reach the TRS outputs on the interface because the front of it is flush with the front of the laptop so I can adjust levels (also it’s my panic button - quick turn of output volume). I don’t like that the USB cables between the hub and computer are exposed, same for power adapters.

Hi twaw, thanks for joining this thread and pointing me to your setup. I’ve decided to use the Quick Lok Music Stand (LPH001) as the stand instead of using less stable mic stands.

Do you play rowdy western bars? Not sure why you need the handgun case… :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Ha! No western bars, but some are a bit rowdy! Speaking of which, I have had a couple situations where drunks come on stage. While the laptop stand is pretty sturdy there is the risk of it tipping if someone knocks it over. I try to put it where no one will walk.

Yep, that’s the same stand I have. I had a similar issue, but I don’t need access to the front so much so I split the difference. I got the longest TRS connectors I could find, that helps a bit. Maybe you could make a cutout on the back platform? Or worst case, get some short TRS extenders. If they’re good quality cables/connectors the signal loss should be negligible. Or do your patchbay idea.

I mounted the power supply and coiled the usb under the plywood platform, and left a space in the foam so I can just coil up the power and usb cords and shove them in the foam pocket. BTW I started using velcro cable ties instead of zip ties…easier to change when needed, and a little softer on the cables. Let us know what you end up with!