As a product, this pad (Launchpad Mini mk2 - you now probably want at least the mk3) is aimed at triggering samples in a DAW.
But for direct playing of notes (note: no velocity; you may want a Pro or X for that - but then also compare to things like Push), you want a more musical layout.
As it speaks MIDI, I've previously abused it in other ways (e.g. triggering a slew of keyboard combos via MidiKey2Key)
But you can go further than that.
Pictured is an Arduino with a USB 2.0 Host shield.
Acting as a translator (USB-midi to the pad, and as of this writing serial MIDI on the other end) lets us create a isometric keyboard layout, and add features we can think of, such as a step sequencer. And even control the LEDs.
And because USB-MIDI is defined in USB messaging, the USB code is not particularly scary.
The code is duct tape between:
- Arduino MIDI library so that it can easily put out serial MIDI (on 5-pin DIN)
- my code also uses the USB MIDI library though this seems to have been merged into the host shield code in current versions.