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Old 25th May 2019
Gear Head
rylos's Avatar

You only need holes in the display if you try to use conventional controls. Have a transparent layer over the display layer. with sense elements built into it that can sense knob position (capacitive comes to mind), with the shaft assy' being very thin on the bottom, and potentially repositionable on the transparent layer to allow for differing layouts.

I've done a fair amount of work in capacitive touch-sensor design, and can see how it could readily be adapted to sense knob position in this kind of scenario. even allowing for relocatable controls. So for each synth layout, you place the knobs where you want them, and the display shows appropriate graphics background, including parameter values at each knob, with all the mechanicals being above the display, instead of having to be integrated with it.

I, also, have a strong dislike for touchscreens. They typically seem tedious to use, partly due to lack of tactile "feel", and they often have a sluggish response, partly due to software issues, and often to problems with obtaining clean enough sensing signals when in the midst of electrically dirty environments.

I constructed a proof-of-concept protoype of a touch-operated midi controller that addressed the tactile concern by a combination of having slightly textured guides, so that the user only has to give minimal attention to actual finger position relative to the desired control area, and giving it very fast response time by using a sensor design that provides high immunity to received electrical noise (even at / near the sensor's operating frequency). That combination gave it a much better-than-anticipated natural feel. When I first fired up the completed device, I was prepared to find it tedious to use, but instead immediately fell in love with it.

Here's my take on having live control after calling up a preset:

Of course, I wouldn't mind working out the details of the knob on the screen concept, if the project kept a roof over my head, and food on the table.