UP-808 Groove Controller

I always wanted a real TR 808 but lets be honest – 1800 Euros ? There is now way I can and want afford it. Yes the step sequencing input with 16 buttons is a great way to work for people like me. So I used Novation’s launchpad and different max for live devices and plugins to mimic stepsequencing workflows. Last year when I started to tinker with electronics again and focused on ableton’s live and max I had the desire to connect the two through the ARDUINO platform. But I really had no idea what whould be a good project to start till I foundĀ  a 808 spare switchboard for 65 Euros on ebay. So, this post will be my diary to document the building of my – “808 drumroll” – Uglypaul’s 808 Groove Controller – UP808.

Maybe you just pissed yourself about this idea but nothing comes close to the feel of pressing a button of the 808 switch board – even without the enclosure and the analog circuits creating the sound!


  • get switchboad buttons connected to the arduino (IN) > use a shift register with 2 IC CD4021 to read 2 bytes for 16 switches
  • get switchboard LEDs connected to the arduino (OUT) > use a shift register with 2 IC 74 HC 595
  • get communication between MAX and Arduino to work
  • Create a nice enclosure like the ones for the monome and build extra controlles to make this thing versatil
Finished the circuit to read the status of the buttons

Like I planned 2 CD4021 to read the status in two bits. The arduino code is working too – exciting.


I confess, i love buttons and knobs. So here is a collection of what I allready bought for the UP808. The big one is a 808 spare part, it’s the knob to select the drum sound – I plan to use it for that too.


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