Disco drumming with piezo sensitive lighting

[Wilfred's] brother outfitted a snare drum with LEDs for Dutch Carnival. They faded through different colors randomly and were a nice addition to the normal looking instrument, but [Wilfred] suggested that the LEDs change color with each drum stroke. He set out to design a controller circuit to provide the functionality and ended with a small package based around an ATtiny2313 microcontroller. A piezo buzzer is used to detect the vibrations inside the drum, each hit triggering a different color combination. The LEDs fade to off after each impact as if dying along with the sound, and when not struck for 30 seconds the system defaults to a red heartbeat pattern. See for yourself after the break.

We’d love to see this feature added to each drum in one of those robotic drumsets.


  1. Mr. Sandman says:


  2. Derek says:

    Thats Awesome, Would look cool with a whole set of lights like that with a band! Then just some guitars lights and some pyro teks! Mixed With a dark room, You Child can play a colored tambourine! Family Band!

  3. fartface says:

    very cool, drop the heartbeat as it distracts from the performance… but a whole drum core with these at night would utterly rock.

  4. AK says:

    the only thing i could think of during this…..million dollar idea to teach someone how to play drums – “follow the lights” (red bad, green good) or something.

  5. Shugotenshi says:

    Add this the ArcAttack’s performance with the Tesla coils.

  6. NickS says:


    Or a Rock Band type setup using real drums.

  7. soopergooman says:

    Stinks of WIN!!!! now to put it in my car.

  8. electroboxen says:

    gave me an idea… if you hooked up the circuit to a transducer with a low-pass filter, you could have lights that beat with the music :3

  9. MrX says:

    Awesome. Does someone know the name of the music being played as soundtrack in the video?

  10. Hackersmith says:

    According to the youtube comments:

    search for: ministry of sound chilled 1991 2009 for the music

    which leads to: http://www.ministryofsound.com/product/digitaldownload/downloads/download/ministryofsoundpresentschilledii1991-2009/

    And making me believe is the track:

    Mr. Scruff : Get A Move On

  11. Dan Fruzzetti says:

    how about a seizure warning for Japanese kids?

  12. Dan Fruzzetti says:

    It’s a really great project though.

    That kid’s a little old for a pacifier, too. I mean, really; just distract him nonstop for like three days and he’ll forget about it forever even if he’s the hardest kid on earth to wean and it’ll be the best decision you’ve ever made.

    The red heartbeat pattern should not be nearly as bright; it should be subtle so it doesn’t distract you from the beat you’re trying to play.

    And is it possible for the pickup system driving the buzzer to detect hit intensity, or with the speed of the snare drum would its intensity always register as maxed out? Because if you could use the color information as feedback for the player, you could make a really special and flexible family of performance percussion instruments.

    Maybe hook it into the rest of your band and have red for ‘behind the beat,’ green for ‘very close to the beat,’ and blue for ‘ahead of the beat’ or something like that.

  13. John Meichle says:


    Rock Band Controller Mod?

  14. Eirinn says:

    I’d put the light on the bottom of the drum so the floor lights up, that way seizures are avoided and the effect is retained :)

  15. matt says:

    that is so damn cool… and to top it off they just happen to use THAT song in the video!
    my day = made

  16. reed says:

    The track is actually Pacific 707 by 808 State

    One of my favorite tracks, which makes this hack ever better!

  17. Eric says:

    @Dan Fruzzetti, thanks for the heads-up, always good to know that other people know better. I’ll let my son have his pacifier as long as he likes.

  18. 1nee says:

    Hi Mike Szczys

    May i know, are using Netduino or Arduino? Currently we are doing a project which is similar as yours. Do you mind sharing the code?

    Thank you!

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