Setting up Reaper to work with my USB footswitch

You can read part 1 of the story of how I hacked a USB gamepad into a footswitch enclosure, so that I can control Reaper without taking my hands off my guitar. This post is going to explain how to set up Reaper to recognise the gamepad, and then to assign the switches to useful actions.

As a reminder, the actions I wanted to be able to trigger were;

  • Arm/disarm the active track;
  • Start recording;
  • Stop recording, save what I’ve just recorded and return to the start point marker.
  • Stop recording, delete what I’ve just recorded and return to the start point marker;

So first let us set up Reaper to recognise the gamepad. Plug the gamepad in and Windows should immediately recognise this as a joystick or game controller. Then start up Reaper.

Open the preferences window (Options -> Preferences, or ctrl-P) and select “MIDI devices” on the left hand side of the window.

Next click on the “Add joysick MIDI” button on the right hand side.

Select your joystick/gamepad from the “Device” dropdown box
Select “Generic.txt” in the “Processing script” dropdown.
Ensure that the “Send as MIDI control/learn” option is checked.

That is your controller set up in Reaper. Now we need to use it to trigger Reaper to do something.

Fire up the Actions window (Options -> Actions, or just press the “?” key)

Find the action you want to trigger in the list. In this example I’m going to choose the “Toggle arm/disarm for the last touched track”.

Then click the “Add” button, to create the shortcut for the selected action, which brings up this window.

Then press the button on the gamepad, joystick or, in my case footswitch, that you want to assign to this action and you’ll see this selected in the shortcut name, thus,

Click OK and you’re done. Find the other actions and assign to the other controller buttons as required. Job done.

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9 thoughts on “Setting up Reaper to work with my USB footswitch

  1. i just found a cheap game controller (for 2 pounds!) and tried plugging it into reaper. i found out how to get it to play notes (but not massively usefull as you can only play 10 notes) and phosycon has it’s own built in thing for letting you control things by midi. now i’ve read this i’m going to try the way of triggering you said.

    i’m not sure i’d be able to rip it apart and feed other electronic stuff into it though. even if i had the nerve to try

    • Hi Ken, yes I think this approach would work as well as that pedal sold on eBay. I’m not sure if you could use it to control live looping in Reaper because I’ve never tried it. You could experiment though. If you can do what you want using a normal keyboard key press and Reaper’s action menu then you’ll be able to use a modified gamepad controller to trigger it. Let me know how you get on.

  2. Hi! I’m so close! I have an xbox 360 wired controller. I’ve got it connected and recognized by my computer, and even reaper. I went to prefferences and midi and pressed button for “joystick” I sellected generic but this isn’t working. when I press a button in the “actions list” the joy stick isn’t recognized. any thoughts?

    • I’m not sure what to suggest. Outside of Reaper, have you been able to get your PC or any other software to recognise it?

  3. Well, at this point, after restarting Reaper, the controller is being recognized, but wierd thing is that it seems as though several buttons are sending out the same CC code. Should the joy stick be sending out Cc codes for reaper to do play/stop ETC, or midi notes? Also, looks like I’ve set up three different instances of the joystick in reaper so I gotta get rid of some. đŸ™‚

  4. I’d be very interested if I could program a midi controller or footswitch on press to switch track, disarm the old one and arm the new one.

    • Yes, you should be able to do this. Any action, or sequences of actions, that you can setup in Reaper can be triggered by midi or a footswitch that can simulate keyboard or joystick entry.

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