One thing I've always been interested in is correlating lights and sound. I've made light up speakers and some other interesting things, but I decided I wanted to make something a bit different. Since I'm a drummer, I thought, "Why not make it so my kick drum lights up whenever I hit it?" And so that's what I did.
Now I'm sure quite a few of you are aware that things like this are already being sold online, but those cost at least $100, but this one that I've come up with will only add up to about $30, depending on what lights you get. It works very well (after I made some adjustments), and takes hardly any time to make (except for quite a bit of waiting). Without further ado, we will begin!
Step 1: Materials
Most things for this project are going to be either things you already have, or things that are extremely cheap.
- Some sort of superglue. I used gorilla glue, but it was actually quite frustrating and I'm sure there's a better alternative. If you don't have any, you could probably use hot glue instead.
- Electrical tape. This is absolutely essential. It is used throughout the project for insulation, padding, and holding things down.
- Some sort of spring. This is one of the trickier parts. I got mine from an old Nerf gun, but I'm sure you could find one somewhere else. The only requirement is that it needs to be a somewhat wide compression spring that isn't any taller than a tic-tac box.
- A tic-tac box. I took this picture after I already cut it, but I'm sure you know what a tic-tac box looks like (hopefully). This is going to be used as casing for the switch we'll be making.
- Some aluminum foil (or aluminium foil if that's what you call it). This is used for a few connections, and should be fairly easy to come by.
- A couple wires. Nothing to explain here, just make sure they're insulated and not too thick.
- Some sort of light. This will be the light you are putting in your drum. For mine I just made a quick test light, but I will be installing an LED strip in a few days, but what you want to use is up to you.
- A power source. This will be what powers your light. Make sure it has quite a bit of juice because flashing lights takes up quite a bit of electricity.
Before we start the actual project, here's a few improvements I made (or would have made) to this project.
- Once you've cut the tic-tac box, put some electrical tape around the inside, otherwise the spring makes a terrible clicking noise when you hit the bass drum (listen to the video at the end of the project to see what I mean). When you put the electrical tape in it acts as a padding and keeps it from making that atrocious noise.
- Make sure that only the switch is connected to the drum head. Anything you add to the drum head makes it sound worse, so keeping the light and the power source on the bottom of the drum, or outside it, is a good idea.
- Make sure everything is very securely in place. I had a few instances of my spring coming free, and the pad of aluminum foil coming loose.
- Finally, I suggest using a loop of electrical tape instead of glue to connect the aluminum foil pad to the tic-tac box. This makes the spring complete the circuit more often.
And now, on to the first actual step!
Step 2: Assembling the Tic-Tac Box
I actually did this step before I decided to make an Instructable, so I don't have very many pictures. Basically, you're going to open up the tic-tac box so it's only the clear part left. Then you're going to cut it (scissors worked just fine for me) so that only one half of the tic-tac box is left, and then trim it so it's as wide as the spring (refer to picture). Then compare it to the spring and cut it so it matches up with the spring vertically. There you have it, the case for the switch. Onto the next step!
Step 3: Assembling the Aluminum Foil Pad
This step is a little more in depth. (Keep in mind that all of the parts in this step have corresponding pictures above them).
You're going to start by placing one of the parallel sides of the tic-tac box on a piece of aluminum foil, and then you're going to trace it with a sharpie.
After that, cut the foil with an exacto knife or other means. Make sure to cut slightly within the sharpie line.
Next cut the piece of foil roughly in half. You can discard the bottom half.
Now cut a piece of electrical tape roughly the same size.
Take one of your wires, and flatten the end as much as possible with wire cutters or other means.
Place the wire on the upper portion of the sticky side of the electrical tape.
Lay the foil over the tape and the wire so that it's in the middle of the tape, and on top of the wire.
Press down firmly so that the foil is very stuck onto the tape, and in contact with the wire.
Use an exacto knife to cut around the edges of the tape, so that it is about the same dimensions as the foil.
Put some glue on the back of the tape and connect it to the top of the inside of one of the parallel sides of the tic-tac box. Use clamps or something else to make sure it stays in place.
Note: I actually suggest using a loop of electrical tape instead to connect the pad to the box because then the spring hits the pad more consistently.
Onto the following step! (Ladies first)
Step 4: Finishing the Switch
Now we're going to finish up the switch. The first step is hooking up the spring.
Solder the end of one wire to the edge of the spring. Get it as connected as possible.
This part is technically optional, but I highly suggest gluing both wires in place because neither connections are extremely secure.
Now you're going to glue the bottom of the spring (the side you soldered the wire to) to the bottom of the tic-tac box, flush to the side of the box opposite of the side with the foil pad on it.
Once all the glue had dried, move both wires to a comfortable position and tape them together. This will keep them in close proximity.
Trim both of the wire and strip the ends.
I suggest tinning the ends of the wires to make soldering with them easier.
Notes: I can't stress how important it is to have all of the parts glued very well to the box. When I first put the switch in, it worked but lots of the parts came off from the switch. Don't make my mistakes, secure the parts.
And now, the last step!!!
Step 5: Hookup the Switch, and Connect It to the Drum
This is the final step, and should be very satisfying.
Start by hooking up the switch to some sort of light and power. You may want to do this after you connect it to the drum depending on how big your light/power source is.
Test the connection by moving the spring so it is touching the foil, and your light should light up.
Figure out where the pedal is hitting the batter head of your kick drum, and make a little mark with sharpie, or something similar.
Proceed by removing the batter head and place it on a table so the inside of the drum head is facing you.
Take your switch and use electrical tape to secure it to the area that you marked out. It should be facing upright so that the free part of the spring is up. Also the side of the box that is flush with the spring should be the side touching the drum head. I suggest double layering the electrical tape to make sure the switch stays on the drum head.
Tape down the power and lights so that they can't move around. My picture shows them taped to the drum head but I quickly changed that and I highly advise against it, because anything touching the drum head makes the kick drum sound worse.
Put the drum head back on the drum, and tighten the lugs.
Step 6: Done!
And that's it, you should be all done. Above is a video I took of mine. It all looks and sounds pretty good, though I need to think of a way to dampen the drum so it doesn't resonate so much.
Thanks for reading my instructable, if you have any comments, questions, or suggestions, then please leave them in the comments section. Also, if you liked this instructable, then please like and follow me for more tutorials and how tos. Thanks, and have a good day!
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