Insights about our own "bread board"
Universal, Flexible, Dark - building a controller is fun
The idea behind Dark Board
Honestly, it happened by accident : )) … when we created our Dark Fader controller we needed a PCB (Printed Circuit Board) first. We created one and it worked well. But we asked ourselves: “Why not build a universal PCB, which can be used for any Teensy based controller?”.
So we started again and created Dark Board with simple but effective routing. We added all the components that are usually missing on the typical bread board on the market (e.g. full sized USB connector, USB hub on board, additional IC’s like the MCP23017, I/O resistors, Teensy 3.2-3.6, I2C bus etc.).
We designed a bus structure that allows you to connect any control elements easily and flexibly. Each control has its own connector, no longer any wires between the mounted controls below the panels needed.
We like it … and use it internally for all of our controllers.
Combine your ideas with our board
In case you want to build your own Teensy MIDI controller with your own software and are searching for a PCB, then the Dark Board could be of interest for you.
The Dark Board is made by a professional PCB vendor to our specifications. It is in high quality and we use the same board for our controllers.
We cannot offer to solder the components for you, because the quality control would be complicated as you will code and upload your Arduino software later, and only you know which controls you want to connect. But we hope you like the PCB itself.
Interested in this ‘powerful bread board’? … then Contact us, you are very welcome.
Here’s a link to a cool project built from one of our users/friends: Making an RGB Controller for 3D software applications (Jay Taoko, Canada)
Projected Retail Price (this may change in future)
Dark Board: 49 €
Dark Board is the PCB only (without any components), made for folks who can and want to solder themselves and then insert their own Teensy CPU.
In case you need any components (USB connector, control pin stripes, any IC’s hub/MCP), let us know. Same with the chassis, we could offer you the same case (with milled front/back panel) which we use for our controller, matches perfect to the board, but we assume you want to build larger controller ; ).
The quality of Dark Board is excellent.
Current delivery time: should be in stock, if not, worst case: 2 weeks.
- Factory made PCB (Printed Circuit Board), 2 layers
- Solder mask: black glossy, Silkscreen printing: white
- Surface finish (all contacts): immersion gold allows smooth soldering
- Dimension: 201 x 63 x 1.6 mm
- Dark Board supports Teensy USB-based microcontroller development system, 32 Bit Arduino technology
- Supported Teensy:
Teensy 3.2 (72 MHz Cortex-M4, 3.3V, 5V tolerant)
Teensy LC (48 MHz Cortex-M0+, 3.3V)
Teensy 3.5 (120 MHz Cortex-M4F, 3.3V, 5V tolerant)
Teensy 3.6 (180 MHz Cortex-M4F, 3.3V)
Teensy 4.0 (600 MHz Cortex-M7, 3.3V)
Teensy 4.1 (600 MHz Cortex-M7, 3.3V)
Electrical specification, power consumption
- All components (Teensy/MCP etc..) are self powered via USB Input 5V (Power Plug-In DC connector not mandatory)
- Teensy work in Vcc 3.3 mode, I2C bus and MCP with Vcc 5V
- Power consumption depends on inserted IC’s and connected control elements, typical consumption (including Teensy 3.2, MCP and USB hub IC): less 80mA (this low value allows e.g. usage on iOS without hub)
- USB B Input (USB full size connector). Caution: you need to solder 2 thin wires between the Teensy USB backside pads to and Dark Board before soldering the Teensy on board
- USB B Input can also be used during Arduino coding and uploading mode
- Optional: USB A Output (usb full size connector, hub mandatory)
- Optional: Power Plug-In DC (5V, 5.5/2.5mm DC, + polarity inside), powers the board with all components incl. USB Out
Available I/O CHANNELS
- Teensy 3.2: 23 I/O (14 Digital + 7 Digital/Analog + 2 Analog)
- Teensy 3.5/3.6: adding 15 I/O more (7 D + 6 D/A + 2 Analog)
- MCP 23017: adding 16 I/O (16 Digital I/O)
- Max. I/O channel (using Teensy 3.5/3.6 & MCP): 37 Digital, 13 Digital/Analog, 4 Analog
- Max. amount I/O in total (using Teensy 3.5/3.6 & MCP): 23+15+16 = 54
USB hub Extension Slot
- Insert optionally a 2-channel USB micro hub if needed
- Hub allows to add an USB Out connector at backside to connect additional controller in daisy chain
- 2 jumper bridge connector to enable/disable USB hub option
CONTROL ELEMENT SLOTS
- Areas to connect external controls (buttons, pots, faders, encoder, LED etc.)
- 2.54mm (1/10″) grid size for common male pin stripes on board, plug in control elements via female Pin Headers (e.g. DuPont 2.5, JST-EH etc.)
- Flexible bus structure, each control element gets its own slot row. Teensy rows: Vcc 3.3V – GND – Teensy I/O – R-Teensy I/O (via optional resistor). MCP rows: GND – Digital I/O – R DI/O (via optional resistor on port A)
- Each row is labeled with I/O description in sketch (e.g. ‘A10’)
- 3 areas: Teensy 3.2 (23), Teensy 3.5/3.6 add-on (15), MCP (16)
RC smd pads for CONTROL ELEMENT
- RC SMD pads make the control element slots even more flexible: allowing to add optionally resistors (R) and capacitors (C) to any control element(s)
- Example use cases: 1) add R as serial resistor for LEDs, 2) add R+C to build a LPF (low pass filter) to smooth and stabilize analog control signals
- Location: next to each control element slot, two pads on front side for R (resistor), two on back side for C (capacitors)
- Circuit Front side: R works as serial resistor between Teensy (and MCP) I/O pins and the control element (enables R-Teensy pin in the control slots)
- Circuit Back Side: C connects Teensy I/O to a pull down GND capacitor
- RC slot size: SMD 1206 (3.2 mm × 1.6 mm)
MCP 23017 Extension SLOT
- Insert optionally a MCP23017 (16-Bit Expander, I2C bus) to add 16 additional Digital I/0 channels. Typical use case: extend the amount of the Teensy I/O’s allowing to connect more knobs or LED’s
- MCP 23017 is connected via internal I2C bus (addr.0)
- MCP 23017 is self powered via USB Input 5V
I2C BUS Connector Slot
- I2C offers powerful options to connect build complex controller with minimum wiring effort. Example: add multiple amount of encoder with 2 wires only or connecting additional printed circuit boards via I2C
- Dark Board offers one I2C slot with Teensy 3.2, offering two I2C slots using Teensy 3.5/3.6 (not supported for Tennsy 4.1)
- I2C slot connector includes 5V (I2C Vcc) and 3.3V (Teensy Vcc) and 1 IRQ DAI/O pin to allow IRQ via I2C controller (useful e.g. for encoder)
- Dark Board offers SMD solder pads to pull-up both I2C busses with 4.7 K SMD resistors (size 1206) to I2C Vcc (5V)
USER BREAD BOARD AREA
- Free for usage area (23×14 pin matrix) at PCB bottom to support user specific enhancements
- All pads in matrix are separated (no connection, no trails) to allow highest flexibility in usage
- Typical usage: add user specific circuits on the board, or adding additional components (e.g. I2C devices, multiplexer, dip switch arrays, trimmer pots, additional MCP etc.)