Instructions for Launchpad Pro Firmware Development

A bit ago while I was answering a question in the Facebook Circuit Owners group I mentioned that I’d not been able to figure out how to program my Launchpad Pro. It didn’t sit well with me after I wrote that statement. I’ve been a software developer for a long time and embedded systems is my original area of specialty.  What could possibly be that hard about it? So, I went back for a second (actually third) look at what it took…

The original release of the Launchpad Pro celebrated the open platform that Novation was providing as part of the product release. The primary documentation for working with that platform is at Turns out, while there’s a fair bit of documentation there, the reality is it is just barely enough documentation to get it done, and it is not quite right (at least not on the master branch). I’ve determined there’s a couple of other branches, one of which has the major corrections in it that I make below, but none with fully detailed instructions.

The end result was that I was able to get some firmware into my Launchpad Pro.  But, it wasn’t perfectly straightforward.  So, I’ve decided to provide some updated and more detailed instructions.  I do presume some reasonable knowledge of software development but hopefully this helps the Novation Launchpad Pro community.


These instructions are MS Windows biased, but I think they should translate to MacOS easily enough.

You will need the following tools installed and ready to go:

  • A git client
    • git will need to be in your command line path
  • An ssh client (e.g.: part of MinGW)
    • ssh will need to be in your command line path
  • Vagrant
  • VirtualBox
  • A MIDI tool that can send sys-ex (e.g. MIDI-OX)

My personal laptop has Win10 and 8G of RAM on it and for me it is just barely sufficient. I really can’t run much other than the VirtualBox and MIDI-OX at the same time.

First Steps

  • Find or create a folder to work in
  • Open a command prompt in that work folder
  • Execute:
git clone --recursive
  • This creates a launchpad-pro folder in the that work folder

You now have the basic Launchpad Pro files on your computer.

However, the Ubuntu image that is going to be used in this setup has changed since the code was uploaded to github. Therefore, we need to make a small change to one of the files downloaded.

  • Move to the launchpad-pro folder and open the Vagrantfile in a text editor
  • Find the line that starts with ‘’
  • Change it as follows, Before: = "drmyersii/ubuntu-desktop-14.04-x64"
  • After = "drm2/ubuntu-14.04-desktop-x64"

Novation support graciously point me at the new location when I asked about why there was a problem originally (and this nicely agrees with the last change on the raw-ADC branch that I found after I asked…).

VM Setup

  • Using your command prompt, move into the launchpad-pro folder
  • Execute:
 vagrant up

Let vagrant complete its work before moving on or logging into the VM.

  • Log you into the Ubuntu VirtualBox instance, execute:
 vagrant ssh
  • Execute:

The make is going to run for a good bit of time but we can do a couple of things while it is doing its thing.

Ubuntu/Eclipse Setup

The new Ubuntu image that we are using does not include an Eclipse installation (despite what the original docs say). But, it is not hard to set up.

  • Switch over to the VirtualBox instance and log into VirtualBox
    • It should already be running at this point with the vagrant user prompting for the password – just use “vagrant” as it the password
    • You may get prompted to update. I didn’t, but it is something that should be done soon to ensure all of the security patches are installed if you’re going to use this for anything beyond Launchpad Pro development
  • On the left sidebar there is an icon that looks something like an orange portfolio with an A on it. It is the Ubuntu Software Center. Launch it.
  • In the upper right of the Software Center, there’s a search field. Type in “eclipse” and look for “Eclipse Integrated Development Environment”.
  • Click on that row and there should be an “install” button. Install it.
    • This will take a little bit of time.
    • At the end of the install you will be prompted to authenticate the installation – just use vagrant password again.
    • The install button eventually change to “remove” (don’t remove it)
    • Note that there is now a new Eclipse icon in the left sidebar.
  • Launch Eclipse
    • If prompted for a workspace, accept the default and check the box to make it the default.

Once Eclipse shows you the main window we need to do a bit of configuration in Eclipse

  • Go to the Help/Install New Software… menu
    • I’m not sure what GUI Ubuntu is using these days but they hide the standard toolbar in the top status bar. Simply move your mouse up to the top bar next to the “Eclipse” text and the menu will reveal itself. Yes, I agree, really questionable UX…
  • Using the combobox to the immediate left of the “Add…” button, pick “Indigo Update Site”
  • Scroll down the list to the Programming Languages area and expand the list.
  • Select the “C/C++ Development Tools”
  • Leave the defaults alone from here out and click Next as many times as necessary until you can click Finish, which you also click.
    • You may get prompted to acknowledge licensing agreements and what not… do what you need to do.
  • When it is finished you will be prompted to restart Eclipse. Don’t. Instead, shut Eclipse down completely
    • This is just for the ease of the next step. Normally the restart is just fine.

We need to go back to our ssh session and check on the progress of our make command. When it is done we can switch back to the VirtualBox.

Pulling in the Source Tree

We now have a development environment for building our Launchpad Pro firmware but we need to pull the source code into Eclipse.

  • Launch Eclipse
  • File, Import…
  • Find C/C++ in the list and expand it.
  • Click on “Existing code as Makefile project” and then click “Next”.

It turns out that the launchpad-pro folder in your main computer’s work  folder is mapped into the VirtualBox’s /vagrant folder.

  • Put “/vagrant” in the “Existing code location” text field
  • Set the project name to whatever you want (it defaults to “vagrant” which is probably fine in some situations but isn’t for ours IMO)
  • Leave the other things alone and click “Finish”
    • If you have not closed the “Welcome” tab, go ahead and do so.

Building the Default Code

We now have a project in the upper left of Eclipse with the name we provided in the previous dialog. Time to build this thing:

  • Right click on the project and select “Clean Project”
  • Right click on the project and select “Build Project”

There is now a launchpad_pro.syx file in the launchpad-pro/build folder.

Upload to the Launchpad Pro

Finally, we have a binary image to upload into the Launchpad Pro. Ensure your Launchpad is plugged into your computer (and in bootloader mode) and using your SysEx tool of choice (I use MIDI-OX) to upload it (from <your-work-folder>\launchpad-pro\build\launchpad_pro.syx) and restart the Launchpad Pro.

You might have to hit the setup button to start the new firmware but it is there and running.

Useful References


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One Response to “Instructions for Launchpad Pro Firmware Development”

  1. Setting the Colors on the Launchpad Pro’s Pads | Coder For Christ Says:

    […] Just another coder trying to make his way through the universe… « Instructions for Launchpad Pro Firmware Development […]

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