Altura MkII Theremin MIDI Controller / Arpeggiator



  • Save and Read up to 21 presets
  • Arpeggiator: Program an 8-step sequence, play it up and down the scale, enter a tap tempo, change to double time or half time

The Altura MkII is a MIDI controller / sequencer / arpeggiator that emulates a theremin. As you move your hands  in the air, the Altura MkII transmits MIDI data to your synthesizer to control pitch, volume, velocity, bend, modulation, portamento, and more! Use it to control any MIDI synthesizer, such as the Macchiato Mini Synth. Get it ready-to-play or build it yourself from a fun and easy DIY kit! Get a sleek black acrylic cabinet — kit or ready-to-use — or  make your own cardstock  cabinet using the provided template.

Requires 9V DC power. Use a battery (not included) or pick up a plug-in power supply. Requires a MIDI cable, available separately.

In UK, get it at THONK

In BERLIN, get it at KOMA

Connect with your music: build your own gear!

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The Altura MkII Theremin MIDI Controller emulates the behavior of the early electronic instrument invented by Russian physicist Léon Theremin in 1920.  With Theremin’s gadget, as the player moves his right hand closer to one antenna, the device emits an eerie tone that rises in pitch. As the player moves his left hand farther away from the other antenna, the tone becomes louder. The device is very sensitive, and makes wonderful, spooky music – but it is very tricky to play. The performer can only play by ear: there are no frets in mid-air!

Our MIDI Controller version uses sonar range finders in place of antennae, and rather than producing sound directly, the Altura MkII emits MIDI messages that are interpreted by a separate synthesizer. The Altura MkII was designed as a companion to the Macchiato Mini Synth by Zeppelin Design Labs: there are a few special features that will only work well when paired with the Macchiato. Otherwise, the Altura MkII conforms with General MIDI specifications and should easily control any device bearing this mark. Many MIDI devices do not conform to the General MIDI specification. In these cases, you may need to fiddle with your synthesizer some before it will respond properly to the Altura MkII. Please download the Quick Start Guide and Reference Manual for all the details!


  • Altura MkII Theremin MIDI Controller – DIY Kit or Ready-to-Use
  • Black acrylic case, DIY Kit or Ready-to-Use
  • Iridescent cardstock for making your own case. Template included with Altura MkII.
  • 9V DC Power Supply


New Features with MkII Release:
  • Save / Read up to 21 presets
  • Arpeggiator / Step sequencer
    • Program any 8-step sequence over a 2-octave range
    • Use right hand to set initial note
    • Sequence always plays in selected key and scale
    • Tap Tempo
    • Use left hand to multiply tempo
Plus all the original Altura features:
  • Right Sensor – MIDI Pitch (Note On/Off)
    • Octave Select – set 1 to 8 octaves, ascending or descending
    • Key Select
    • Scale Select – choose from 12 different modes
  • Left Sensor – Send Control Change
    • Pitch Bend
    • Modulation
    • Velocity
    • Channel Volume
    • Portamento Time
    • Adjustable to any range of values from 0-127, ascending or descending
  • X-Y Mode: Both left and right sensors send Control Change data, any value, any two controllers
  • Transmit Channel Select
  • Articulation (responsiveness) adjust
  • 9V DC Power Input — wall wart or battery
  • MIDI Out
  • Power On indicator
  • 3-digit display
  • ISP Header


We occasionally publish updates to the Altura MkII control software, which you can easily install with the free Updater App for PC. (You will also need a USB Tiny Programmer.)

The Altura MkII MIDI Theremin open-source software is covered by the Creative Commons Share Alike / Attribution  / Non-Commercial License. The Altura MkII code was written in the Arduino  1.8 environment and is available open-source on our Github page.  Arduino enthusiasts can modify the code and flash it to the Altura MkII using a programmer.  Find detailed instructions in the file on Github.


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What You Will Need

Here’s everything you will need to build the Altura MkII Theremin MIDI Controller  kit:
  • Digital multimeter, able to measure resistance
  • #2 Philips screw driver
  • Tiny straight screwdriver
  • Soldering iron, 15-50 watt
  • Wire strippers
  • Flush cutters or small diagonal cutters
  • Clamp or vise to hold the printed circuit board while soldering (optional, but handy)
  • Solder sucker or solder braid (optional, but very handy)
  • Solder, 60/40 rosin core
To make your own cabinet using the provided template, you will need the following:
  • Stiff craft cardstock (available separately), or a cereal box
  • Steel Ruler or Straight edge
  • X-Acto knife or other sharp hobby knife
  • Two push pins or thumbtacks
  • Scissors
  • Butter knife
  • A few small binder clips
  • Rubber cement
To build the acrylic cabinet kit, you will need the following:
  • Steel straight edge
  • X-Acto knife or other sharp hobby knife and/or scissors
  • Plastic cement and/or Super Glue
  • Toothpick
  • Piece of tape


  • Detailed instructions for assembling the controller kit, making a cardstock cabinet, or building the acrylic cabinet kit
  • Quick Start will get you playing fast!
  • Reference Manual contains detailed information explaining every feature
  • Watch the companion video on YouTube
    It's easy to keep your Atlura MkII's software up to date with the ZDL Updater App for PC.
  • All source code is available on our Github repository.  See the README for detailed instructions on how to download the Arduino sketch and modify it to your heart's content.
  • To send data to your Altura MkII, you will need a programmer -- a little piece of hardware available separately.