Testing of my Arduino drum kit…

As i said briefly in the previous post, I got round to testing out how my project involving the Arduino drum kit was going so far. I finished the soldering of all of the wires onto the sensor modules that I had created. This took quite a while, especially with the stupidly long lengths of wire that I went with in the end… oops!

I attached all of the sensors to the kit using electricians tape, you know, the plasticy kind. This can be seen in some of the photos below.

I did have a fair amount of trouble getting some of the sensors to stick. Particularly on my snare – the tape didn’t seem to like the Remo Coated Ambassador head, so I used regular clear tape and stuck it to the resonant head which seemed to work just as well and not get in the way! (I’ll get a picture later). The cymbals also weren’t particualrly fond of having tape stuck to them. As you could imagine, it dampened the sound quite a lot, making them sound crap, even more rubbish than usual! The tape didn’t really want to stick to the metal surface very well either, but as it was just a test run, I left it there.

I had it all set up over two breadboards, one for all of the incoming analogue connections, and the other for the midi port and any other things that I wished to add later. It just made setting up slightly easier as it was clear where everything was going. There were a hell of a lot of wires as I mentioned, so I will be investing in cable ties later to keep the +/- together. It was also fairly important to make sure the wires were colour coded to aid the setting up process.

The midi port output from the Arduino was sent thru a USB -> Midi adaptor or Midi -> USB adaptor, you can call it what you want! This was connected to my iMac where I used Logic Express and Battery to check that it was all working to some extent and then assign sounds to the specific notes generated by the kit.

This worked well, although the resonance of the drum heads combined with the ‘ringing’ effect of the piezo caused multiple signals to be generated. This probably is a major thing to work on, but I think it should be fixable by working out a higher ‘trigger’ voltage or getting the Arduino to somehow ignore the two resulting (combined) cosine waves that result from the ringing of the piezo and the vibrating of the drum head. The cymbals turned out to be worse in this aspect as they vibrated more, but a way of (more) dampening could be found…

The next thing that I’ll probably get round to is either working out how to counter what I will call the ‘ringing effect’ or adding a footswitch to trigger the bass drum and/or the hit hat foot pedal. I had originally bought a decent foot switch from Maplin for a fair amount of money to see how it would work, but I have currently lost it… Once I have sorted out the general ringing I will be able to input into Sibelius, to get the sheet music to be notated in real time, how cool! For the moment though, I am overly impressed in how well it is going!

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  1. Hello,
    How did your Arduino drum kit turn out? I have been wanting to do something quite similar with a percussion setup I am building for a piece I’d like to play. Do you have any recordings from your modified kit?


  2. Hey Lisa,

    It didn’t turn out as great as I would have liked it to initially… The whole Arduino software worked excellently and all of the hardware switches and so on worked great, however the main issue was with the principle of the idea – using Piezos on drum heads to pick up the noise. The vibration of the heads was picked up perfectly, the main problem was with the continuous vibrating of the heads causing the continuous triggering of the piezos and thus making it a pain to actually record or use at this stage. However, I believe that this can be altered and/or worked round fairly easily, which is what I will aim to try fairly soon. Stay tuned and thanks for the interest.


  3. hello this is an awesome idea i really like it. I heard you were having problems with the skins vibrating too much. I have seen a few examples of people using mouse mats to dampen the vibration between the piezo and a metal plate. Perhaps you could try this technique of using a mouse mat disc. cut it to the same size as the piezo or slightly larger and place between the sounder and drum skin/cymbol?? i hope this idea would work as im going to be trying it soon!!

    You should also be able to specify the cut off frequency in software so that it only recognises a hit at a particular peak voltage from the sounder. Using this idea you could also specify minimum voltages to recognise and assign a lower volume/different drum sound.

    hope this helps!

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