Introduction: Electronic Drum Kit

Picture of Electronic Drum Kit

Drums are fun, let's face it. But they are too expensive and cumbersome. The solution? Build your own electronic drum kit!

Step 1: The Theory

A keyboard is really a bunch of switches. So to make the drum kit, we build our own switches, and wire them up to a keyboard controller. This plugs into a PC, where a program listens for keypresses, and plays a corresponding .wav file

Step 2: You Will Need

Picture of You Will Need
  • Keyboard
  • Aluminium Foil
  • Plastic
  • Cardboard
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • Computer
  • Multimeter
Not shown:
.wav files

Step 3: Dissasemble the Keyboard

Picture of Dissasemble the Keyboard

Pretty simple, attack it with something, just don't break it.

You should see 'sheets' of circuit. There are 2 with printing, and a divider

Step 4: Pad It Up

Picture of Pad It Up

Put the keyboard aside. Now we need to make the pads.

Grab some cardboard (half Manilla folders work well) and some of the aluminium foil. Put one 'panel' of the foil onto each of the inside panels of the folder (they must not touch). Attach a wire to each of the al foil panels.

Next, cut some plastic to size (I'm using transparencies here), and cut some holes in it, tape it over one of the aluminium panels

Rinse and repeat. I created 2 for the purpose of this instructable.

It is probably a good idea to test with a multimeter

Step 5: Wiring the Pads

Picture of Wiring the Pads

On the keyboard sheets there are a variety of circles and lines. These are all conductive, and work on the same principal as out pads (when the two circles touch through the plastic divider, a circuit is made) Look at the edge of the sheets, and each will have a ribbon cable on the end.

We need to select some keys that will correspond to the pads. I have chosen 1 and q because they were the first I saw, and they share a common lead, that means we will have an easier job getting things to the controller.

Once you have selected your keys, follow the line of those keys until you get to the end of the ribbon cable, On the controller there is a socket for the ribbon cable, either remove this and solder to the board, or just shove the cable into the socket so that the wires only touch one 'pad' inside the socket.

Repeat for each pad, and the other sheet.

Step 6: Testing

Picture of Testing

Plug the thing into your PC, open notepad and start drumming. Only one character should appear for each pad.

If none, or more than one character appears, check your wiring.

Step 7: The Program

Picture of The Program

The program is simple, it listens for a keypress, and plays the corresponding file.

The program allows 'profiles' to set up a profile, create a new folder where the exe file is named profiles and put a new subdirectory there for each profile. In these folders you should put your .wav files.

Each .wav file should be named {keycode}.wav (so for example one of mine is 49.wav)
To find out the keycode for each of your pads, click the find keycode button in the program.

Step 8: Drum

Picture of Drum

That's it, plug in your drums and drum away!


joeyjerry (author)2014-05-19

This idea is fine but when I hit the pad randomly and/sometimes with less pressure it does not register a hit and no sound is produced. Any alternate method to make the pads?

idontcar3 (author)2011-05-17

you wont believe me but i had the same idea but with piezos, and its kinda hard to find them locally =).. so.. thanks for the alluminum foil idea :D i'm trying tonight ^^

joeyjerry (author)idontcar32014-05-19

Did you try to do it with the piezo? or did you do it this way & did any of the two techniques work?

rioligity (author)2013-07-10

i think its better to use styro film at the plastic drum pad because it can last longer :) by the way thanks for this XD .....

DJG (author)2013-07-06

This works great on my Vista PC, but not at all on my XP laptop that I'd like to use (to make the system mobile). Is there any way, munchman, of producing a version that worls on XP, please?

D Inventor (author)2013-07-03

man big BIG problem.......when u play hi hat and base or snare or whatever two things to gether no sound is produced of else only one sound is produced!!!!! :( Can u fix this or else tell another software without any lag in sound....pls help thanx...!!!

DJG (author)2013-06-13

Thank you very much! It works a treat!

DJG (author)2013-06-12

Hi Munchman. Great Instructable, but I'm having problems with the software - when I try to run the .exe file I get an error message: "Error: Please make sure there is a profiles directory".
I'm using Windows Vista - what should I do, please?

munchman (author)DJG2013-06-12

Hi DJG, You'll need to create a folder named 'profiles' in the same location as the .exe file. Within that folder, you'll need to create another folder (named whatever you want), with your .wav files in it. Hope this helps :)

heller_guitar (author)2010-12-30

Hi, I´m really interested in making one of these, and I would like to know if this diagram will work, because, seriously, I find it easier to do ;) If no one can answer this, I´ll try and share my results.

Thanks in advance.

munchman: your instructable is great, but IMHO, maybe you could try not to use slang, and to explain a bit more on some sections. I mean, it´s understandable, but... well, it can always be better.

thealeks (author)2010-12-05

OMG YOU ARE GOD!!! this is exactly what ive been looking for! i have the software already, i just need some sort of hardware for "playing" drums and recording into cakewalk. i will make this asap.

duck_tape_ (author)2010-03-12

This popped up when I tried to open the program

I have windows 7 and it appears that munchman has vista, so if you have xp or whatever it could be that.

munchman (author)duck_tape_2010-03-12

Are you sure that you have the .NET framework and that you have unzipped the program?

Pestana15 (author)2010-06-08

hello people I've got a little problem I've got the key codes and I've potted in the profile, but to play the notes I've just to hit the pads, but when i hit them no sound come of my speakers. could somebody help me plz. reply quickly plz, i need this as sone as possible thanks for your time

samzaxe (author)2009-08-10

hey there...dude am also trying the process that you showed in this tutorial. but isnt it better if we use piezo transducers instead of aluminium foil to complete the circuit. please reply i am in the middle of process... waitinzz

munchman (author)samzaxe2009-08-10

Try It!

samzaxe (author)munchman2009-08-12

dude am trying......but the problem is that piezo works both ways.. that is tht it makes sound when current is given and generate current when force is applied.and when i atttached the keyboard extended wires with pzo the circuit was completed. can u help me with any idea that the piezo only takes input as force and should ignore any sort of current comin from the keyboard wires thx

harrydask88 (author)samzaxe2010-02-25

try to put diods in the positive wire of the piezo that will oneway the electric flow.

munchman (author)samzaxe2009-08-13

If a piezo generates current than it's a bad idea to use it here. All you need is a switch. The described method does this.

ahmadsamintazwarkhan (author)2010-01-16

this is very cool...but it guess there is one problem...two sound files cant be played together...i guess a keyboard allows only one press...if two buttons are pressed together...only one appears....can u help me with this....or can i use gamepads instead of a keyboard??? please reply i;m in the middle of the process...

Thnk you

carlatf (author)2010-01-07

I don't wuite understand what you wire with what in the keyboard :(
Would you be so kind to explain a little bit more?
best regards!

danymw (author)2009-12-22

it's way cheaper and customizable using a cheap gamepad like i did for my knex guitar ^^.
thanks for the pads idea,i'll rate if it works well enough
what it is the sheet of plastic for?

xhaylowx (author)2009-07-12

where do the wires go? one to each 'panel'? and so it triggers a note back to the keyboard when you hit it and the alluminum foil touches?

munchman (author)xhaylowx2009-07-13

Exactly, the aluminium foil 'panels' touch together through the holes in the plastic, connecting the two wires together and completing the circuit.

xhaylowx (author)munchman2009-07-13

you should add that up there. and is it okay if i don't have a multimeter and don't use one?

xhaylowx (author)2009-07-10

can i just use a peizo instead of the aluminum foil and such, and just wire it back to the keyboard?

munchman (author)xhaylowx2009-07-10

I don't think so, does a piezo act like a switch?

xhaylowx (author)munchman2009-07-10

a peizo detects when an object is hit and how hard it's hit.

munchman (author)xhaylowx2009-07-10

In that case, no, not with this version. I am, however, planning a v2.0 using an Arduino and some pressure sensors. Stay Tuned!

xhaylowx (author)2009-07-10

you did say rinsing, right? how do you rinse it?

munchman (author)xhaylowx2009-07-10

I just meant repeat, like make another one. It's just slang.

hg341 (author)2009-06-06

that is a very cheap and cool way to do that i don't have a spare keyborad though

About This Instructable




Bio: I like doing things. Whether it be blowing stuff up or creating a webpage.
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