Forgotten Rock Band Drum Controller as a MIDI Instrument

Happen to have an old Rock Band drum controller collecting dust in your living room? If you also have a spare Arduino and don’t mind parting with that plastic college memento then you’ve got the bulk of what could potentially be your new percussive MIDI instrument. In his project video [Evan Kale] outlines the steps necessary to turn that unloved plastic into a capable instrument for recording.

The whole process as outlined by [Evan] in under seven minutes. This looks like a great weekend endeavor for those of us just starting out with MIDI. After cracking the back of the Guitar Hero drum kit controller open, the main board within is easily replaced with a standard sized Ardunio (which matches the present mounting holes exactly). About 4:50 into the video [Evan] explains how to add a basic perf-board shield over the Arduino which connects the piezo sensors in each of the drum pads to the analog pins of the micro-controller. The MIDI jack that comes built into the back of the kit can also be reused as MIDI out when wired to the Arduino’s serial out pin. By adjusting [Evan’s] example code you can dial in the instrument’s feedback to match the intensity of each hit.

The video with all of the details is after the jump. Or you can check out a MIDI hack that goes the other way and uses a drum kit as a Guitar Hero or Rock Band controller instead

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Tempo Keeping Drummer Leaves Viking Ship, Now Inspires Pedallers

Bike Controlled Drum Machine

[Serdef] wrote in to tell us about a project he has recently created. It’s a drum beat generator that changes tempo depending on how fast you pedal your bike. This flies directly in the face of using music to keep your pedal timing consistent and up to speed.

The project started out with a tap-tempo drum rhythm pedal that [Serdef] had previously built. This device will generate a drum beat at a tempo corosponding with the time between 2 input signals. This type of device allows someone, say a guitarist, to quickly and easily specify the speed of the drumbeat that they are playing along with.

With the meat and potatoes of the project already figured out, the next part was to make the speed of the bike trigger the tempo of the drum beat. For the signal input, a magnet mounted on the wheel triggers a reed switch mounted on the bike fork once per wheel revolution. This is the same method of information gathering that a bicycle speedometer/odometer uses.

The business part of this project includes an Arduino that measures the speed of the wheel via the magnetic switch, adjusts the speed of the drum beat, and then sends the drum beat to a synthesizer via MIDI protocol. The synthesizer converts the MIDI signal into drum sounds amplified through a powered speaker that the rider can hear. The entire system is powered by a 9v battery and housed in a project box strapped to the bike’s handlebars.

All of the design files and Arduino code are available via [Serdef’s] excellent write up on hackaday.io in case you’re interested in making one for yourself.

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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