THE BAT CONTROLLER
During the week of 10-29-2001 through 11-04-2001, I decided to take on a project that I put off for over 13 years. It
was a two
tier customized controller that had been inspired by the 1966 TV Batmobile built
by George Barris. I built it from
the outer fiberglass shell of a 1975 Moog CDX organ.
An original Moog CDX organ (mine never looked this good)
I bought the actual organ back in 1986 for only $15
because the electronics were absolutely shot and the body had a huge scratch across the
top. I tried to make it work for me anyway, but only used it with it's existing sounds for
about a year when I played with my former band, Equinox.
With it onstage in 86
I once tried to have my friend Gary Phillips try to
help me hard wire a small Casio sampler inside it, but we never got around to completing
that idea. I did install a box called a “Full Rotor” that was suppose emulate a leslie cabinet ( a desired tone for those who want that Hammond organ sound.) I even went
as far as painting it silver back then to make it look a bit better. It never sounded the
way I wanted it to and the organ was inherently noisy, so I never used it since. But, I
never could part with it because I thought that I could do something with that body.
Not what it use to be
Technology has come a long way since then and now
keyboards can play boxes with different sounds in them via an interface called MIDI. There
are keyboards that are made that don’t even have any sounds in them that are used for
playing these external boxes. These keyboards are called controllers. I’ve held on to
the thought that one day I would put some controllers in that Moog body. Still, I never
could make up my mind what I was going to do the body. I thought about taking it to an
automotive paint shop, but could never decide on the color.
During that time, I had been revisiting passions from my childhood past. One of these
of course was
the classic 1966 Batman television show. I always liked the gadgets such as
the Bat computer, Bat poles, Bat cave, Bat boat, but especially the Batmobile. I had even
gone as far as to try and find the little toy Corgi Batmobiles made back then, but they have
gotten too pricey over the years.
Can I keep it?
I actually planned on finally working on this thing the
week before I went on vacation. I picked up two 61 note USB controllers by Midiman, since
I've always liked Pitch and Mod being controlled by wheels rather than joysticks. Also, I
prefer a non weighted key bed. I thought I was just going to paint various superheroes all
over it, but my wife, Vickie, thought I could put “fins” on it like the
Batmobile. Well, as soon as she said that, I had the image of making the thing into a
Batmobile type of controller, but without the fins ( I wouldn’t know how.)
All the insides were taken out of the controllers' plastic shells and
worked into the wood framing that I built inside the CDX's original wood frame. With many
trips to Home Depot and Radio Shack, I finished the wood and electronics throughout a week
of steady work. The body has been painted to resemble the look and feel of the Batmobile
from the 60's TV series with a high gloss black body and fluorescent orange trim. The
funny thing is that the painting went a lot faster than I thought ( two days), and the
wood and electronics took all week.
After a week of long days and many, many mistakes and learning around
them, I now have a completed Bat Control hooked up in my home studio.
It was then featured as "Keyboard of the Month" the February 2002
issue of KEYBOARD magazine.