Picture of Arduino-Controlled Robotic Drum

For years I have been telling anyone who listens that I was going to build a robotic drum. Most people kind of shrugged indifferently. Even as I built it, most people kind of glanced over at it and conveyed doubtfulness. It seemed like no one but myself was convinced of just how awesome it was going to be.

I received a lot of snarky comments about how I was making a strange annoying noise maker. When I finally go it set up for the trial run, I quickly silenced the naysayers. This robotic drum blew everyone away. I was finally able to convey my vision and explain why someone would ever want to build a robotic drum.

The reason to build a robotic drum is because it is plain super-awesome. It keeps a beat like clockwork. You can slow down and speed up any drum beat with precision and ease. It can even play things a real human drummer could never do.

I intend to use mine for rocking out. The current plan is to program it with different drum beats and play guitar along with it.

I decided to use linear actuators (car door lock motors to be exact), and Arduinos with motor controller shields simply for ease of use and duplication. I am sure there are other more elegant ways to interface with the motors, but this is by far the easiest.
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jryan53 months ago

Hi there!

thanks for taking the time to post your work!

I have built what you have shown us, but mine has bugs like crazy.

I'll do a little write up but issues include steps being dropped/triggers not responding properly to the information that has been sequenced in the runtime screen.

At the moment, Max runtime won't even connect with my triggers! The interface looks all janky and stripped down when it's not communicating at you know what I mean by that? I'll post a screen shot when post my conclusions.

Amanda, unfortunately, hasn't responded to some inquiries I had made via PM about the script and such, whether you guys know about potential bugginess and the like.\

I'm sure she's quite busy.

Thanks so much again for sharing!

Please hit me up!



I made one of these awesome robot drummers, at least the one for the snare drum for the beginning. I also found the Arduino code to be buggy. I figured out that the motor direction was in fact reversed (needed to replace HIGH and LOW), and that the serial communication was broken: Here, the term "(Serial.available() > 8)" is the problem, since it wait for 8 bytes (!) pending in the serial line before doing anything.

I managed to fix these issues and now the robot drums like a charm. However, I changed a lot of stuff in the code, since I am running Linux and I'm using my own software MIDI interface based on ALSA. If you are interested in the code, drop me a line.



jamesbrosuk19 days ago

I tried this, but mine failed, i'm going to learn a bit more about programming before starting again, thanks for the info though

What were your issues?


henryd1067 months ago
You, my friend, have way too much time on your hands. I respect that. Anyways, this is awesome.
Reese_Rules10 months ago

Great job on this instructable. I have only 1 question… How much does it cost?

thank you,


JayProximity11 months ago
I ran the code on code bender and it would not work, can you please explain how it works.
mr. steinke2 years ago

I've seen Octant play, up in Portland many years ago. It'd be cool to see some pictures of your kit!
(I'm also an old fan of Mocket! I have to assume this is Matt Steinke?)

Elokuu1 year ago
Hey randofo,

First of all I want to thank You for all your very nice Instructables. Everytime I have an idea to create something amazing, I check Instructables if somebody has done it before, and it's usually You :). So was it also with this "drumrobot".

So yesterday I got a used car door lock motor and connected it to my arduino via an L293 H-bridge. I powered the actuator with 12V/max. 2A power supply. It works but it's kind of slow. I programmed the arduino so i can set the "traveltime_down", "traveltime_up", "strike_length" and "strike_interval". If I set the "traveltime_up/down" less then 100ms the actuator barely moves, but it could be enough due to the lever principle.
The problem is that if I set the "strike_interval" to 50ms or even less the L293 get's extremely hot (It's just made for 2A max). You're using the motor shield, which is based on the L298 and has the same limitation (2A max) I think. Are you facing the same Problem? Is this the reason why you have two drumsticks each, so you can double the interval?

I also saw you're using just a 9V/1500mA power supply for two motor shields/ 4 actuators. So if both actuators are pushing/pulling it is 750mA each. Is this enough? The description on Amazon says it draws 2.6A when pushing/pulling at 12VDC.

Sorry for the long text, but I'm pretty new to all this stuff.

found another robot band recently: Compressorhead! They are super awesome. Can't imagine the amount of effort that must have gone into making them..

noahw2 years ago
This is my favorite Staff project of 2012. Nice work Randy and congratulations upon receiving this honor.
techbitar2 years ago
Love it!
It can't play faster than Joey Jordison!
Fantastic project - you've mixed two of my favourite hobbies!
thanks randy! this ible turned out awesome, plz bring the drum kit back to the office, I want to install vibration sensitive lights in it!
bring it back or she'll die!
yes! if I don't express my beatboxing I might explode!
tjesse2 years ago
"I think a drummer is a pain in the neck" NICE!
Nice project and a great video!
PeckLauros2 years ago
Awesome. I've had a dream for a long time to build a robotic system for playing Spanish guitar. I have this on my instructable todo list and may have to promote this one to the top.
mamybaei2 years ago
Bah Bah
Behtarin Instructable :)))))
Lindie2 years ago
Awesome! I hope the neighbors like it! :-)
janw2 years ago
Great build! I like the mounts you made for the drusticks and the electronics.
WrshpMzshn2 years ago
Very, very cool!
Awesome!!! Combine it with this:!

Detailed info at

burnok1002 years ago
Very Genius Instructable...!
I hope i have the time to construct this awesome kit.
I hope you also put a "hi-hat open-close" motor, and another stick/motor to the snare (for rim shots)...