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.