Figs. A and B: The MSA-R MIDI decoder kit. Virtually
every drum machine or software sequencer uses MIDI
to communicate with other devices. Fig. C Install the
solenoid on a wood block. Fig. D: Install pivot column.
1. Assemble the MIDI decoder kit.
As with any project requiring soldering, make sure
you’ve got decent ventilation and goggles for eye
Take a look at all the kit components (Figure A).
Each part has a labeled place on the printed circuit
board (PCB) where it’ll need to be soldered in. The
many-legged integrated circuits (ICs) will fit into
sockets that get soldered in place, so you won’t have
to worry about applying too much heat to them.
Photography by Ed Troxell
Highly Liquid MSA-R MIDI decoder kit
$48 from highlyliquid.com
Dual-lead wire, about 4' I use thin speaker wire.
12V solenoids or small motors around $2 each
9V DC power supply or 9V battery
Pipe strapping, duct tape, or zip ties (optional)
Device that generates MIDI signals
such as a MIDI keyboard, sequencer, or computer
Soldering iron and solder
Hot glue gun and glue
Drill or Dremel rotary tool (optional)
TIP: It’s always a good idea to expose your components
to as little heat as possible — if you’re having trouble
with one, take a breather and come back to it later.
One more basic soldering rule: Touch your iron to
the joint, then apply a small amount of solder. If you
do it right, the solder will flow into the cracks and
make a very nice joint. Too much solder, or improperly applied solder, will cause all sorts of headaches
down the road, so it’s best to do it right from the
At makezine.com/go/msaassembly you’ll find the
assembly notes that’ll guide you through the part
placement for the kit. Once each part is soldered in,
trim the remaining leads to keep them from touching each other. It’ll take an average-skilled solderer
about 1½ hours to assemble the kit.