RaspiDrums Uses Expensive Sensors

Piezoelectric sensors are great for monitoring mechanical impacts with a microcontroller. Whether you’re monitoring knocks on a door or watching a heartbeat, they are a cheap way to get the job done. They do have their downsides, though, so when [Jeremy] wanted to build an electronic drum set, he decided to use more expensive accelerometers to measure the percussive impacts instead.

Even though piezo sensors are cheap, they require a lot of work to get them working properly. The ADXL377 3-axis accelerometer that [Jeremy] found requires much less work, plus provides more reliable data due to a 1kHz low-pass filter at the output. In his setup, a Raspberry Pi handles all of the heavy lifting. An ADC on each drum sends data about each impact of the drum, and the Raspberry Pi outputs sound via the native Alsa driver and a USB sound card.

This project goes a long way to show how much simpler a project like this is once you find the right hardware for the job. [Jeremy]’s new electronic drums are very well documented as well if you are curious about using accelerometers on your newest project rather than piezo sensors. And, if you’re into drums be sure to see how you can have drums anywhere, or how you can build your own logic drums.

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Drums Anywhere!

The students over at Cornell’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering have been hard at it again with their senior projects. This time, it’s the very tiny and portable drumset dubbed Drums Anywhere by its creators [Shiva Rajagopal] and [Richard Quan]. Since there are other highly portable instruments like roll-up pianos, they suppose there should be a portable drum kit that actually sounds like drums, and this ECE duo have hit the metaphorical and physical drum on the head… except that this project doesn’t actually use physical drums to make sound.

The project consists of two 3D-printed box-like sensors with velcro straps that can be attached to any drumstick-shaped object that might be lying around. Inside the box is a flex sensor and a tiny microphone which report the “beats” to a microcontroller when they strike another object.

On the software side, there are two sampled sounds stored in the microcontroller but they plan to add more sounds in the future. The microcontroller outputs sound to a pair of speakers, and the sensors are sensitive to force, so the volume can range from almost inaudible all the way up to [John Bonham]-style booms. This could also be theoretically expanded to include more than two “beat boxes” for extra sounds, or be wireless. The options are virtually limitless, although the team notes that they are limited by the number of interrupts and ADC converters on their particular microcontroller, an ATmega1284.

This is another interesting take on a having drumset without the drums, and definitely expands the range of what a virtual drum set can do. It’s also great to see interesting projects coming from senior design classes! Be sure to check out the video after the break.

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5-Gallon 5-Piece Electronic Drum Set

electronic drums from 5 gallon buckets

Who hasn’t wanted to rock out on some drums in the middle of the night? If you have anything that resembles neighbors then a midnight jam session is out of the question. That is unless a set of electronic drums is available… but alas, those are expensive. If you don’t have the spare cash burning a hole in your pocket, then be like [Mike] and build a complete 5 piece e-drum set.

[Mike] started off with 5 gallon buckets that would become the drum shells. On a real drum set, all of the drums are different sizes in order to produce different notes. Drum size doesn’t matter with an electronic drum as a drum module creates the note and sound. Even so, to make this set a little more realistic, each drum was sectioned and pulled back together to change the diameter. A homemade circle cutting jig and a wood router were used to cut top and bottom rim hoops out of 3/4″ plywood. The inner diameter of these hoops were made just a hair larger than the outer diameter of the 5 gallon bucket shells. The bottom of the top hoop was then routed to produce a groove which would allow a standard mesh drum head to fit inside.

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Typing with a MIDI drum set

[Autuin] picked up the drums at the age of 18, but by his own admission he’s no [Bonzo], [Buddy Rich] or [Ringo]. Practicing always seems to fall off the end of his to-do list, and there really is only one way to Carnegie Hall. One thing [Autuin] is really fast at is typing, so he figured he could improve his drumming skills by banging a few paragraphs out.

The core of the build is a Yamaha DTX drum module, a MIDI-to-USB adapter, and little light coding. Basically, [Autuin] made a chorded keyboard out of his drums; by hitting one (or two, or three) drum heads at the same time, he can type characters in Open Office.

For going outside the comfort zone of a steady rock beat, we’re thinking [Autuin]’s build might just be useful. He’ll be displaying his Keyboard/Drum mashup at Vancouver’s East Side Culture Crawl alongside a horrible device of artistic merit. If you promise not to break anything, drop in on him in a few weeks.

Vidia after the break.

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Portable electronic drum kit made from plastic bowls


[Ian Cole’s] son is learning to play the drums on an electronic drum set, and he wanted a way to continue practicing during his frequent visits to his grandparents’ house. [Ian] had picked up a Spikenzielabs “Drum Kit Kit All-Inclusive” (DKKAI) earlier this summer, and set out to build an easily transportable drum set.

The DKKAI comes with an ATmega168-based board and a set of piezos that can be used to register hits. It was up to [Ian] to provide the rest of the kit, so he set off to IKEA in search of cheap, durable drum heads. He returned with a handful of 1/2 Liter plastic bowls, which he mounted on a PVC pipe drum stand.

The piezos were mounted on thin aluminum discs, which were in turn glued to the back side of the bowl lids. The piezos were wired to the DKKAI kit via the PVC tubing, with the signals ultimately fed into an iPad running Garage Band. [Ian] says that his portable drum set works quite well, and although there are some things that require changing, his son is very happy with his new practice set.

Check out the video below to see the portable drum kit in action.

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MIDI Air Drums let you play anywhere

[Maayan Migdal] wrote in to share a really cool drum kit he constructed that has one special twist – no drums at all. Using a simple MIDI device and an Arduino, his “Air Drums” look pretty sweet.

The hack makes use of a pair of garden rakes, which serve as his drum sticks. The rakes were cut down and modified to allow the addition of accelerometers and some USB cables. The left stick contains a single accelerometer for registering hi-hat hits, while the right stick is armed with a pair of the modules, which are used to trigger snare and crash symbol strikes. He modified a pair of sandals to fit better while drumming before adding a sensor to each shoe. The left sandal contains an accelerometer to register bass drum hits, while the right shoe uses a light sensor to simulate the use of a hi-hat pedal.

We think that the results are awesome, but feel free to check out the video below to see what we mean. If Guitar Hero wasn’t dead in the water on hiatus, we think this sort of setup would make a great replacement for the flimsy drum set that comes with the game.

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chipKIT Sketch: Mini Polyphonic Sampling Synth

In our hands-on review of the Digilent chipKIT Uno32, we posed the question of what the lasting appeal might be for a 32-bit Arduino work-alike. We felt it needed some novel applications exploiting its special features…not just the same old Arduino sketches with MOAR BITS. After the fractal demo, we’ve hit upon something unique and fun…

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