I'm making a Renoise specific DIY keyboard. You guys have any tips for it?

While I was making a custom mechanical keyboard for a friend, I got the idea that I could make a Renoise specific keyboard. It would be a standard USB HID keyboard with CherryMX style switches and a nonstandard layout.

I repeatedly get lost anyway when inputing notes on a qwerty keyboard as I’m a hobbyist and I use Renoise infrequently. I know there are several options from marking the keys, practicing, using a midi keyboard… I want to see if something neat/useful/fun pops out of this.

For size, I aim for 5 rows or less in height, and not wider than a full sized keyboard. I want to put it under my normal PC keyboard without rearranging my desk.

This abomination is the first draft that I made:

A started with this diagram which highlights the note editing keys.

I rearranged the note keys so the top rows are a bit offset. I left out the keys which do not correspond to notes as this isn’t for typing. I also added a hexadecimal numpad, which sounds useful to me but might be an unnecessary gimmick. The rest are just sprinkled around at the leftover spots without a strong concept behind.

I’m also considering making it a 2 row keyboard instead and use my regular keyboard for the keys that do not fit.

The layout/design is very much in a state of flux. I wanted to throw the idea out there early to get some insight from you guys. Thanks for any tips in advance!



great idea, specially when you can have Renoise on Pi. Maybe create housing/placeholder for Pi within keyboard, and make it single unit :smiley:

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Maybe create housing/placeholder for Pi within keyboard, and make it single unit

The Pi support sure opens up a few possibilities :slight_smile: For now I’m limiting the scope of my project to being just an addon keyboard. Otherwise one could easily balloon a weekend project into a multi year one :smiley:

If someone endeavor on such a project, one could draw inspiration from the open source LMN 3 or the off the shelf Polyend Tracker and see how these concepts could be adapted for Renoise.

Brilliant Idea👍‍‍

can help you to make a clean thing:

You can certainly find free softwares that will,for example,send shortcuts via a single key press

on Linux,I think it’s “easely” feasible

I will 3D print the housing and the switch top plate. I have a set of ready made keycaps, so I will use those, but if the keyboard works out I will 3D print custom keycaps. That way I don’t have to manually label them :smiley:

The key assignments will be done in the microcontroller firmware so it will be plug-and-play on all OS platforms.

In my opinion,use color on print…to visually segment the parts

Very nice project👍‍‍

Good idea for dumbs like me that have no memory for Shortcuts

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I modified the layout to be 2 row. I added an indication of a full sized keyboard on the top of the image:

If I can make the keyboard bezel minimal, it will be only a single column wider then my regular full sized keyboard.

I figured I can leave out a few keys like space, arrow keys or the numpad enter, because they are easily reachable on my regular keyboard above. I wanted to keep the “/” and “*” octave keys so I can reach them with my left hand. Shift, Tab and “A” would be harder to accurately reach up to, so I kept those. They might be pointless if I hover my left hand over the regular keyboard instead, but I can reassign those keys later if I end up not using them.

I had to sacrifice the hexadecimal numpad. I was so proud of the idea, but it’s utility was dubious :smiley:

The fact is that your are not an advanced user of renoise…

maybe you should contact Alien7 on the forum

I think he could give you good ideas for the layout


Sorry @alien7 :pensive::neutral_face::joy::ok_hand:‍‍


Thanks for thinking of me @T-ger

I have no idea what you would do.
I just use a lot of
shift f4 = copy
shift f5 = past
I use that alot.

And the mouse

Here is a track I made in Renoise

So most of us use mostly mouse in DAWS…

@alien7 :Headroom…:wink:…but nothing to compare to “samplitude”(awfull to use)…cordially
@taktik :Test the sound of “Samplitude pro”…cordially

@AltVanguard :Brilliant idea…I repeat…Your brain has to be very powerfull to merge all the essential shortcut needs of a renoise user…not impossible…But if your are not familiar with DAWS->Give up
But your project can be used for other things
Think line,rectangle or square grouping and colors

This can be such a good thing if done right.

There should be a Transport Section, with keys organized for:
-starting from begin of current pattern
-starting from cursor
-starting from playhead
-edit mode toggle

And edit section
copy, paste, cut, del
-previous track
-next track
-mute current track
-solo current track
-switch to previous pattern
-switch to next pattern

…and even more shortcuts for the pattern sequence matrix, and looping options. and to adjust step length for the editor, pattern follow mode toggle etc

Selection section
-begin selection
-end selection
-moveable selection above cursor
-moveable selection below cursor
-select column
-select row
-select track

I don’t have time to really make a list of all the suggestions to be put in a really well thought out list/order, maybe can in a week or so, but there is so much potential here! It seems your latest iteration is almost basically a nanoKey2 slim minus the velocity sensitivity. IMHO if you’re going through the effort make something to replace your other keyboard, so I think the dpad is actually necessary. I agree to take input from very experienced users here, it could be awesome!

What? Does Renoise work on a Rpi? Does it work on Rpi 3 B+?

please check, there are different topics (i remember one longer discussion in Facebook group about resource usage on Pi)

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That is pretty sport on :slight_smile: Although this keyboard is half an octave longer as well :wink: Thank you for the suggestions!

I don’t think it’s constructive to add a key for literally every function, and I wanted this to be a no fuss keyboard, so I’m only assigning default shortcuts to the keys. I added the Fn key so there would be some extra space for the most common shortcuts.

I tried to add this, but I couldn’t find a default shortcut for this. There was an action that sounded similar, but it was unassigned in Renoise.

I had some time during the weekend to finish the wiring, so here it is. I call it the Cricket :slight_smile:


I also updated the layout and marked the keys for the second Fn layer:


(Top labels mark the first layer keys, bottom labels mark the second layer. Left aligned labels are the actual keycode sent, right aligned are the semantic meaning.)

There are some additional info on the github page of the project. There are no build instructions yet, but I will upload them as time allows. You can play with the layout file and see the firmware in the meantime.

I’m still open for suggestions about key assignments, the firmware is easy to modify :slight_smile: I don’t plan on making further iterations on the hardware anytime soon.

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