Hi-Hat MIDI Controller


Drumming hackers take note, if you’ve got an extra bass drum pedal it’s cheap and simple to use it as a MIDI controller. This rig was thrown together to supplement a DIG DRUM electric drum set. That piece of equipment has a pedal add-on that didn’t come with it. Turns out all it does is feed a resistance value to the set.

To get this up and running a frame was built from a metal base and acrylic side piece. The acrylic hosts a trimmable potentiometer which connects to an 1/4″ stereo jack right beside it. This facilitates connecting the pedal to the drum set using an audio patch cable. Interface with the pedal is accomplished with a few bits from the hardware store. The axle of the pedal sticks out one side, and is clamped between two washers. The other side of the washer grip the timpot causing it to move when the pedal does.

This hardware is a snap to use with your own MIDI device. We’d suggest giving the HIDUINO package a try.

10 thoughts on “Hi-Hat MIDI Controller

        1. Or titanium, or carbon nanotube composite, or dried cheese… It’s only holding up a potentiometer.

          However, most of these i have seen has a weight on the axle to give a slightly more realistic behavior of the pedal, many people will have problems keeping a beat on a device that is just a pedal with no feel to it.

          1. It doesn’t have a weight but there is a spring that pulls the pedal back to the “up” position. The force can be regulated, so it’s possible to get a light or heavy feel of the pedal. Most cheap HH pedals don’t have any regulation. However it should be easy to mount additional weight in place where the beater originally was placed.

  1. A better question is how long is that pot going to last…unless you’re extremely careful about aligning it on-axis, and supporting it well…pots really don’t like impulses like that. S’why car throttle pedals typically use some sort of optical or magnetic encoder.

    1. Unless this is going to be used for large expensive concerts (which it probably isn’t) it doesn’t really matter if it breaks now and then and needs the pot replaced, it’s a simple operation and it’s a cheap part.

  2. Morley Wah pedals made use of an optical “pot” instead of the traditional rotary pot (as opposed to what you’d find in a Crybaby.) A strip or wedge of plastic would project between a lamp and CDS photocell. At one pedal extreme, the wedge scarcely interfered with the light beam, so the CDS resistance was low. At the other extreme, the wedge blocked the beam, so CDS resistance was high. Intermediate positions of the pedal resulted in intermediate resistance values.

    It would be simple matter to engineer a rotary version of this idea. You’d need a light-tight enclosure, of course, but with this scheme there are no moving parts in mechanical contact, so there is no potential for wear.

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