Hackaday Prize Entry: Boots And Cats And Boots And Cats

Electronic drums are pricey, but the drums themselves are actually very easy to make. By simply putting a few piezos on some rubber mats, you can make a set of electronic drums. The real trick, and the expensive bit, is in the drum module. This module has inputs for the high hat, snare, toms, and bass drum to turn the repetitive thwaking of a stick on a rubber mat into drum sounds.

For his Hackaday Prize entry, [Jeremy] isn’t building a set of electronic drums. He’s building a drum module, complete with touchscreen interface and a GUI.

This isn’t [Jeremy]’s first go at building a drum module – his first implementation was RaspiDrums, an add-on for the Raspberry Pi that used accelerometers instead of piezos. The software works well enough with a USB sound card to serve as a set of real electronic snare.

Now [Jeremey] is moving up to a full kit, and the power of the Raspberry Pi means he can easily add a touch screen to his device. Right now the efforts are going into building a GUI using Gtkmm, and wrapping everything up into a front panel that makes sense and is easy to use. The drums themselves are a solved problem, making this Hackaday Prize entry a fantastic polish on an already great project.

13 thoughts on “Hackaday Prize Entry: Boots And Cats And Boots And Cats

  1. With 3 accelerators you should be able to divide up any surface into however many pads that you need, but you must do some DSP work to locate the hit point from the three input streams. Multiple simultaneous strikes could be a problem for you though, but there is a work-around where a single hit between two points actually triggers both sounds.

    1. I don’t know if it’s that simple. Drums sound different depending on where and how you hit the skin Not only would you have to calibrate your 3-sensor surface for each individual drum, but also for all the difference variations you can get out of it. How difficult would that be?

      Take a snare drum. From my recollection of working with a jazz drummer about 30 years ago there are at least the following variables:: open/closed snare, centre skin, edge skin, rim, side, normal stick, reverse stick, and various weights of stick and of course brushes!

      Would the cost of doing that in processing outweigh the cost of having discrete pads on the surface? I don’t know. I have noticed bands whose drummers use multiple surfaces which they plays with conventional sticks. One such is Scottish band CHVRCHES, and he has a real snare as well.

      And then of course there are cymbals, and all the other stuff drummers like to hit.

      1. Nope, you simply don’t understand the technology well enough to see how powerful it is. If I can tell the location of any hit then the resolution I can do that with determines the number of unique responses, which would number in the thousands, or millions. Not only could you get different sounds based on the distance from the “drum” centre (one of several on the entire surface) you could change the timbre of the sound based on the polar coordinates centred on that “Drum” so that a top edge and a low edge are different in whatever way you like.

        You’d effective have a mini seismograph network, a table top sized graphics tablet that works on impacts rather than proximity, it may even be able to pick up the direction of some blows because the instantaneous output of each sensor, or the combined reading can be visualised as a distorted spheroid that is distorted by the signal differences on each axis. Those glancing blows on a cymbal vs a clean downward tap would look like a long egg vs a button shape, to put it simply.

        If you want to go completely over the top your percussion surface can be transparent and have a LCD screen under it but not in contact with it, then you can see your instrument sets and use it for any sort of interaction a touch screen would permit.

        Then again I could be wrong, it is bound to happen one day, me being wrong that is. ;-)

    1. I hadn’t realised that it was a proper ‘thing’ until you posted your video and then I foolishly googled to see if “boots and cats” was also a thing.
      And so I now have “leather cat bee” in my head. Gee, thanks Brian :-/

  2. Get out of here geico! Clickbait!
    I wondered how Bootsy Collins comes in here. Can’t kill with a gun that has latency, nor move with the music. It really has to be fresh. Hey DJ (Data Jockey) if it ain’t live, what is it? Dead. And we’re not talking Jerry Garcia and friends.

  3. It reminds me of a drum kit I started making a few years ago – PIC based midi input device attached to piezos I ripped out of greeting cards and the pads were made from mouse mats cut to shape.

    The only problem was I couldn’t hold a beat if my life depended on it.

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