This Raspberry Pi Pico "Pack" Adds Two MIDI Ports Without Ballooning the Board's Footprint

Adding DIN or TRS MIDI in and out, this compact board for the Raspberry Pi Pico and pin-compatibles is permissively licensed.

Gareth Halfacree
1 month agoMusic / HW101

Mononymous music maker Kevin, also known as "diyelectromusic," has designed an add-on for the Raspberry Pi Pico or Raspberry Pi Pico W, and pin-compatible microcontroller boards, which adds a pair of MIDI ports — without inflating its footprint.

"This is a PCB version of my Raspberry Pi Pico MIDI 'pack' Interface – something I've been meaning to do for ages," Kevin explains of his creation. "The absolute key, and really the whole point of doing this PCB, was to fit the circuit and two DIN sockets within the footprint of the Raspberry Pi Pico."

The project builds on Kevin's earlier MIDI microcontroller efforts, but is designed specifically with space saving in mind. Taking inspiration from Adafruit's FeatherWing form factor, the board adds two five-pin DIN — or, optionally, tip-ring-sleeve (TRS) — sockets to a Raspberry Pi Pico or Pico W in a piggyback arrangement. The result: MIDI connectivity with the same footprint as a bare Raspberry Pi Pico board.

"This is exactly the same circuit as used with my previous Pico MIDI interfaces, but I’m using solder bridges to select between UART 0 or UART 1," Kevin explains.

"I don't quite know why I've taken so long to do this," the maker continues. "I did have a couple of aborted attempts in the past, but each time gave up when it just didn't seem like it would all fit. I even toyed with the idea of a Feather to Pico converter, but again the difference in pin spaces just didn't quite work for me. I’m really pleased with how this appears to have come together."

A full build guide is available on Kevin's blog, with a schematic and Gerbers published to GitHub under the permissive MIT license. "I strongly recommend using old or second hand equipment for your experiments," Kevin warns those who are interested in trying it out. "I am not responsible for any damage to expensive instruments!"

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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