Funky Computer Drummer pt. 1

Make An Electronic Drumkit for GarageBand

The Goal:

An electronic drumkit that will allow me to play virtual drums in software like Ableton, GarageBand, Fl Studo, by wailing on real things.


Neat! How does it work (in plain English)?

I hit a pad with a sensor in it that converts physical energy into electric signals. Then the signals are converted into simple usb data that my computer (and Garageband, Ableton etc.) can understand.

How does it really work?

I’m using an arduino microcontroller with a drumkit shield and lots of magic smoke.

It’s not that difficult to understand though. The arduino is basically a brain. It can receive inputs (hear, see and feel) and it can also handle outputs (speak, move, look). But it’s just a big, dumb brain. It can’t do sense anything without a nose, ears or skin. A “shield” is an add-on that gives the arduino the ability to sense different inputs and communicate outputs.

The drumkit shield has piezo sensors. Piezo sensors convert physical energy (from squeezing, bending and hitting) into electrical energy. It gives the brain the ability to feel. It’s basically a reverse speaker.

How Far Have You Come?

I’m about 80% done. See pics below. I’ll be working on making pads to contain the piezo sensors over the next week.







The red circuit board under the magnifying glass is the drumkit shield. I’ll eventually attach the piezos to it (the round white and gold things on the left). The shield (sensors and all) will all fit onto the arduino circuit (the yellow thing in the middle).







What the drumkit shield looks like attached to the arduino.

What’s next?

Figuring out what kind of ridiculous things I want to put the sensors inside. I’m thinking of making an electronic drumkit out of stuffed animals. Any suggestions?

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