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«Hot Hand MIDI Expression Controller Users Guide Thank you for purchasing a Hot Hand MIDI- EXP Controller. The MIDI-EXP is a general purpose ...»

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Hot Hand MIDI Expression Controller Users Guide

Thank you for purchasing a Hot Hand MIDI- EXP Controller. The MIDI-EXP is a general purpose

controller that translates motion of the Hot Hand sensor into generic MIDI messages and a

flexible expression output. It can be used with a wide variety of 3rd-party effects units, keyboards,

software. The MIDI- EXP offers an extensive feature set that allows you achieve the full potential

of Hot Hand motion control.

This Users Guide explains the individual controls then moves on to Saving, Calibration, and Trigger mode descriptions. Lastly, it features two step by step examples for using the MIDI- EXP with some 3rd-party effects units.


The Source Audio Team


Inputs and Outputs The MIDI-EXP unit has 4 jacks and one switch on the back panel, they are from left to right: the sensor input, expression pedal tip/ring switch, expression pedal out, MIDI OUT, 9V DC input.

• The sensor input is identical to sensor inputs on any other Hot Hand products, the jack provides power to the sensor and receives X and Y axis signals from the ring. Either a wired or wireless Hot Hand sensor can be used.

• The tip/ring switch determines whether the wiper of the pot is connected to the tip of the plug or the ring. The sleeve connection is hard wired to one end of the pot and does not change. Looking at the unit from the back, if the switch is pushed to the left, the wiper is connected to the tip. If right, the wiper is connected to the ring.

• The expression pedal output is a resistive output in contrast to the expression output on the Hot Hand effects boxes which was really a control voltage output that could be used with most expression pedal inputs. The MIDI-EXP unit uses a digital potentiometer which is basically a chip that has a matrix of internal resistors that can be turned on and off to create a variable resistance which acts almost exactly like a standard passive potentiometer found in an expression pedal. The value of the digital pot is 10k ohms.

The three terminals of the potentiometer are wired to the TRS expression output jack.

• The MIDI output jack is a standard MIDI output.

• For the 9V input, please use only the included Source Audio 9V power supply to power the unit.

Controls The main control on the front panel is an encoder which selects the current function as well as giving access to parameter values. The value of the currently selected parameter is shown on the 3 digit display. The current function and editable parameter are indicated by the LEDs to the left and right of the encoder. Bank 1 selects the type of MIDI message to be sent and Bank 2 contains utility parameters.

The encoder can be used three different ways: normal turn, push and turn, and push. Here is

what each will do:

• Normal turn (without pushing down on the encoder) will allow you to change the value of the parameter indicated by the LEDs and shown on the display. For example, if the LED next to Continuous Controller is lit, turning the encoder will select a value from 0 to 127 that will set the CC number to be sent in the MIDI output.

• Pushing and holding the encoder while turning will select between different functions within the same bank. For example Continuous controller is lit, pushing and turning the encoder will allow you select a different type of MIDI message to sent, pitch wheel, after touch, note messages, etc.

• Pushing the encoder and releasing it without turning will jump between the Message Bank and the Utility Bank.

For each function around the encoder the parameter shown on the display has a different

meaning. Here is the list for the Function Bank:

• Continuous Controller – in this mode, MIDI CC messages will be sent out. The CC number is shown on the display and can be set from 0 to 127. The controller value is determined by the sensor. There is also a value below 0 which is the OFF setting. In this setting no MIDI messages will be sent for the current axis. Scrolling past 127, there is a bank of Continuous Controllers labeled A00 through A99. These settings will send MIDI CC messages 0 through 99, respectively, with one important difference. When the Activate footswitch is pressed to disable MIDI output, the output values will ramp to the Ramp Start value at a rate determined by the Ramp Speed parameter. This is a useful feature which allows you to control a given parameter and not worry about the last value sent when the output is disabled.

• Pitch Wheel / Aftertouch – in this mode, either Pitch Wheel or Channel Aftertouch messages will be sent. The display selects between pitch “PIT” or aftertouch “AFT” message types. The data value is controlled by the sensor. Note: If the unit is deactivated or the message type changed, a MIDI message will be sent that resets the Pitch wheel to the midpoint (MIDI value 64).

• Note Control 1 – this mode sends Note On and Note Off MIDI messages. The pitch value of the message is determined by the sensor, the velocity of the Note On command is shown on the display and can be set from 0 to 127. A new message is sent when the pitch value changes. Note: If the unit is deactivated in this mode or the message type changed, an “All notes off” MIDI message will be sent on the MIDI output. This applies to both note control modes.

• Note Control 2 – this mode also sends Note On/Off command but uses the trigger mode (see below) to send on and off commands. The display value is the Note Number to be sent in the MIDI message. Only one note can be sent at a time per axis. More on this mode later.

Here is the list for Utility Bank:

• Ramp Start – used for ramp trigger mode, sets the starting point of the ramp. Value goes from 0 to 127. This value is also used with the A00 through A99 Continuous Controllers whether trigger mode is enabled or not.

• Ramp Stop – used for ramp trigger mode, sets the stop point for the ramp. Value goes from 0 to 127.

• Ramp Speed – used for ramp trigger mode, sets the speed of the ramp from start to stop. Value goes from 0 to 10. Also used by the A00 through A99 Continuous Controllers.

• MIDI Channel – sets the MIDI Channel for the current axis, value goes from 1 to 16.

Button Functions:

There are six buttons on the front panel. Here are the descriptions for each:

• Axis – selects which axis (X or Y) is currently being edited. When the unit is powered up the x axis is displayed. When the axis button is pressed, the display will show the current settings for the y axis. Initially the y axis is set to OFF and will not send any MIDI messages. Holding this button down for 2 seconds will enable Axis Solo mode. The currently selected axis will be “soloed” and MIDI output will only be sent for that axis.

This is a convenient feature to have when using the MIDI-Exp with computer based applications. Press the button again to disable Axis Solo mode.

• Trigger – This button turns on the ramp trigger mode and selects which trigger mode, 1 or 2, will be used. When neither of the trigger LEDs is on, trigger mode is off and the MIDI-EXP unit will send the current value of the sensor data to the MIDI output. This mode is used to trigger ramps in the MIDI output when a given threshold is crossed using Hot Hand. See the ramp trigger mode description for more info.

• Invert – the invert button inverts the incoming Hot Hand signal. For example, normally pointing your hand at the ground will produce a “0” on the MIDI output and pointing it towards the ceiling will produce a “127”. When Invert is on the opposite is true.

• Gain Mode – selects the gain mode for the sensor input. Normal mode should be used.

Pick is designed for our possible future pressure sensitive pick input.

• Save – Pressing and holding this button for 2 seconds will put the unit into save mode, this is indicated on the 3 digit display. Press save while in recall mode will cancel the recall operation.

• Recall – Pressing the button will put the unit into recall mode. See the saving presets section for details. Pressing recall while in save mode will cancel the save operation.


The footswitch activates the unit and starts sending MIDI messages and data to the expression output. The current state is indicated by the active LED on the main panel. Pressing the footswitch again will stop all MIDI output and freeze the current expression output value. When the footswitch is pressed, a System Exclusive MIDI message is sent with a value of 0 if the unit is being deactivated or 127 if being activated. This is (or might be) useful for triggering something in software.

Depth and Smoothing controls:

The depth and smoothing knobs are used to adjust the incoming Hot Hand signals. Increasing the depth will mean that the sensor needs to move less to go through the full 0 to 127 range. For example let’s say that using the X axis with a given depth setting, pointing the ring directly at the ground produces an output value of 40 and pointing it directly up produces a value of 88 (A).

Holding the sensor flat would result in a value of 64. If the depth is increased, the output value in the down position might be 20 and in the up position 108 (B). It could be increased further so that down is 0 and up is 127 (C). Increasing the depth beyond that will mean that moving the ring only a few degrees up and down from the center position will give the full 0 to 127 range (D). Keep in mind that the center is 64 no matter what the depth is. However, the center can be moved using the calibration feature. See the calibration section for details.

The smoothing knob controls the amount of smoothing or filtering applied to the Hot Hand signal with a low pass filter. Increasing the smoothing will mean that quicker motions will not get through the filter but slower motions will. This means that with the smoothing turned down, very small motions will be picked up and reflected in the MIDI output. By increasing the smoothing you can filter out unwanted fluctuations caused by small movements of the sensor.


When you’ve dialed in your settings and you want to save a setup to the memory, press and hold the Save button for 2 seconds to put the unit into Save mode. The save mode light on the display will be lit. Use the encoder to select a memory location to save to. There are 8 memory locations available. Once you’ve picked one, press the save button again and the memory will be written.

When the save operation is completed, the display will return to normal. The Save function can be cancelled by pressing the Recall button.

To recall saved settings. Press the recall button and release, this will put the unit into Recall mode, indicated on the display. Select a memory location with the encoder and press recall again to recall the settings. Note that both X and Y axis settings will be saved within one memory location. A Recall function can be cancelled by pressing the Save button.

Calibration / Set threshold:

When the unit is in normal (non-trigger) mode, pressing and holding the footswitch for two seconds will put it into calibrate mode indicated by the Active LED blinking. Once it’s in calibrate mode, put your Hot Hand sensor into whatever position you want to be your new midpoint (or value of 64 on the MIDI scale) and press the footswitch again. This will lock in the new midpoint.

When the unit is in one of the trigger modes, pressing and holding the footswitch will instead allow you to set a threshold value for the trigger mode. The calibration value will still apply in trigger mode. See the Trigger/ramp mode section for more details.

When first learning to use the unit it is best to calibrate the unit with a wireless ring before using other features. To do this, put the unit in calibration and place the ring on a flat surface and press it flat before initiating the calibration. This will ensure that both X and Y axes are calibrated normally.

Trigger / ramp mode:

One of the key features on the MIDI-EXP controller is the trigger mode that allows you to start an automatic ramp of the MIDI or expression output when a programmable threshold is reached.

The threshold can be reached by making a large deliberate motion or with a quick flick of the wrist. The ramp will run from the ramp start parameter set in the utility bank to the ramp stop parameter. There are 10 possible ramp speeds, the slowest (setting 1) being roughly 2 seconds and the fastest (setting 10) being about 10ms.

A ramp in the output can be very useful for controlling effect parameters such as an LFO speed, pitch shift, delay feedback, or for fading from one sound to another. Since you won’t always want the ramp to go from 0 to 127, such as in the case of an LFO speed, the ramp start and stop points can be used to set the desired low and high speeds.

There are two possible trigger modes on the MIDI-EXP. In the first mode, each time the threshold is crossed in one direction the ramp will run toggling from low to high. When the threshold is crossed again in the same manner then the ramp will run from high to low.

Essentially this acts as a switch that starts the ramp in one direction or the other.

In trigger mode 2, the ramp will be triggered when the input signal crosses the threshold in both directions. Essentially, the range of the sensor is divided into two zones, separated by the threshold value. When the threshold is crossed on the way up, the output will ramp to the ramp stop value and when the threshold is crossed on the way down it will ramp to the start value.

Start and stop values can be easily exchanged by pressing the invert button.

For either mode, if the output value is already ramping and the threshold is crossed again, the ramp will change directions and being moving the other way. There is an indicator light on the main numeric display that turns on when the threshold is reached and stays on until the ramp is completed.

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