Picture of Light Up Drum Kit
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As a drummer, I love drums. I love how they look; I love how they sound. As a electronics dork, I love building and designing circuits. It was only a mater of time before these two loves would come together. With this kit you will be able to install RGB lighting inside each of your drums that reacts to the vibrations when you hit your drum. Not only will you be able to adjust the sensitivity, but the duration that the lights are on as well.
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Step 1: Parts Needed

Picture of Parts Needed
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Parts needed:
  • Drum Set
  • 12VDC Transformer (Plug Size M)
  • Size M Panel-mount Coaxial DC Power Jack (Radio Shack SKU: 274-1563)
  • Printed Circuit Board (Radio Shack SKU: 276-149)
  • Project Enclosure (Radio Shack SKU: 270-1801)
  • PC Board Terminals (Radio Shack SKU: 276-1388)
  • LED Light Strip (I got mine here)
  • 1uF Electrolytic Capacitor (x2)
  • 555 Timer
  • 2N2222 NPN Transistor
  • TIP31 NPN Transistor
  • 1N4007 Diode
  • 100K Ohm Trimmer (x2)
  • Piezo Element as the drum trigger (I got mine here because it had a self adhesive foam to attach to the drum head). If you would like it to look more professional you can actually use a real drum trigger as found here.
  • 150 Ohm Resistor
  • 470 Ohm Resistor
  • 1K Ohm Resistor
  • 10K Ohm Resistor
  • Braket
  • Wire
  • Heat Shrink Tubing
  • Solder
  • Gorilla Glue
Tools Needed:
  • Drill
  • Drill Bits
  • Dremel Tool
  • Heat Gun
  • Screwdrivers

Step 2: Project Enclosure & Circuit Board

Picture of Project Enclosure & Circuit Board
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We need to cut down the circuit board with our Dremel tool so that it will fit inside our project enclosure. Cut the corners off and size to the enclosure.

Step 3: Create The Circuit

I started out designing my circuit on a breadboard. If you feel confidant, you can go straight to soldering your parts together. You can find a video of the circuit on the breadboard here.

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Candlemann1 month ago

If you wanted to make this for 5 drums could you use one controller or would you have to make a separate controller with a separate power supply for each drum? How could you modify this controller to use only one power supply and have 5 inputs and outputs?

tomatoskins (author)  Candlemann1 month ago

I would be really easy to modify this design to control 5 drums in one controller. The only thing I would look for is a high enough amperage on your power supply. I'm currently away from my kit right now (I'll be there on Tuesday) but if I remember correctly, for this one circuit you need 250 mA. So if you were to combine all 5 circuits for 5 drums into one controller, you'd want to have a power supply around 12VDC and 1.25 Amps. Since that isn't a very common value, I would try it at 1 amp or if you can find 1.5 amps or 2 amps either of those "should" work fine. It definitely won't hurt anything.

As well, one thing you can try since you are making a larger controller, instead of using a bunch of micro switches, try a few potentiomiters to control the color of each drum very procisely. I'm thinking that you might like the result. At the very least, play with the idea on your bread board.

Im quite curious about controlling the colors by potentiometer instead of DIP switch. Do you think a dual gang pot might work as a replacement for the DIP switch? Any ideas would be great. Thanks!

tomatoskins (author)  WesH128 days ago

I don't think that you'd want to use a dual gang pot just because the purpose of using pots or DIP switches is to mix the RGB channels together. If you used a dual gang pot or even a triple gang pot (if you could ever find one) it would just brighten and dim all three channels the same. I would assume that the resultant color would be various levels of white.

Hope that answers your question.

Thanks for the response, and that makes sense. Im still rather new to dabbling in electronics...and I'm not very familiar with dual gain pots, so i figured i would ask.

Sorry but I have another question... if I wanted to use 3 different pots to control each color, am I somewhat close? (I attempted an illustration)

Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!

3pot wiring.png
tomatoskins (author)  WesH128 days ago

Don't ever be sorry for having a question! It gives me an excuse to stop doing my Calculus homework.

That looks correct to me. Since I had my trusty TI-89 handy, if you used 3 1KΩ that would be equivalent to placing a 333Ω resistor from positive to negative directly across your power supply. If you are running 12 volts like most all LED strips do, that should only draw around 36mA if all your pots are turned in the "off" position. And assuming that is correct a 1/2 Watt pot should work. However, since electronics are hardly ever where they theoretically should be, I'd suggest getting a 1KΩ pot rated for 3/4 Watt. Depending on the cost/availability of that, you could probably move up to a 2,3,4, or even 5K pot and you should be fine with a 1/2 Watt pot. The only down side to using a larger pot is that there will be less of your pot that you can use. Meaning that if you have a large pot, your LEDs may turn off after only turning your pot 1/3 of the way around.

I hope this helps! Let me know what other questions you have.

Thanks for the info. I've got almost zero experience with this kind of thing, but I can follow directions really well. I'm almost certainly going to be sticking with the single drum and continue searching for instructions for an all-in-one solution online. I've found several where each drum is an individual unit, but keeping all those batteries charged or finding 5 power outlets is way too much hassle. I do like this design the best, though. Thanks for sharing!

tomatoskins (author)  Candlemann1 month ago
I'll be at my computer later today so I can re write the schematic for 5 drums if you'd like. It's really not that much different. You'll just need a larger enclosure for it.

Man, that would be amazing! Thanks so much!

tomatoskins (author)  Candlemann1 month ago

Alright, so I added the image to step 3 as well. But you'll basically create the same circuit 5 times and tie all the +12VDC rails together and all of the grounds together. I looked at the specs of my personal led strip and for my kit I would need a total of 225 inches of LED strip. My calculations show that it would need between 5 and 6 amps on the power source to get the full brightness from the LED's. That would allow you to run the whole system from one power supply. I would suggest using some sort of connector for each drum trigger (maybe 1/4 mono cable, they are really easy to find around musicians) and some sort of 4 contact connector for the LEDs as well. You might need to do a little bit of research for that one.

Let me know if you have any other questions. I'm always happy to help!


Thanks so much!

TheGreatO1 year ago
Hi, thanks for the fantastic instructable, I've been looking for something like this for ages. Do the LED's gradually after the drum is hit or are they triggered straight on and off like a standard monostable? I'm guessing you could add a capacitor to make a more gradual dim if so? Thanks :)
tomatoskins (author)  TheGreatO1 year ago
Remember that there are the two potentiometers in there, one changes the sensitivity and the other changes the duration. If you wanted it to be even longer than what this circuit is limited to then you would just need to mess with the resistance value of your pot and the capacitance value going from pin 7 to ground. Hope this helps.

my dad would love this!!!

Well, you better get started. Christmas is only 23 days away!

thats right! :)

Is it possible to use an RGB light kit I've already purchased? I have the Supernight led kit that also has white, as well as a remote control and module.

tomatoskins (author)  rance.northern20 days ago

This circuit is specifically designed to be the "controller" itself. If you are wanting to still use your remote and everything else that you have with your controller you'll want to try something like I mentioned a few days ago in the comments. Use the output of this driver circuit to control a relay that will then in turn switch on and off the common wire going from the module that you already have right into the LED strip. Like I mentioned in the other comment, I've never tried this so I can not vouch for the efficacy of this circuit.

kostas558025 days ago

Hello from Greece and congratulations for your great work! I have a quick question as well if you don't mind. I'd like to put a piezo element based circuit between my existing led controller and the led tape so it could go on when I hit my drum and also maintain the patterns I have already created with this controller. Do you think that I could alter your design to do it or its something completely different? Thanks in advance for your time!

tomatoskins (author)  kostas558025 days ago
It would depend on what the circuit of that LED controller looked like.
The controller that I have is the basic wifi controller like this one:

But I was thinking the piezo circuit to act like a simple "switch" to the led tape. Like it has its power (the forth cable apart from the RGB) cut off and whenever I hit the drum it connects the ends. I hope I make some sort os sense!
tomatoskins (author)  kostas558024 days ago

Alright, here is what I have that I hope will work. Reference the attached schematic. What I would try is replacing the LED strip in my schematic with a normally open relay. Splice the "switch" side into the "common" wire of your existing circuit. This will allow the full function of your existing system to be switched on every time that your drum is hit.

I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions.


How might I make a simplified version of this without the pots or switch. Just want white. I'm not too electronics-savvy.

tomatoskins (author)  bretton.melanson3 months ago

Well it depends on what you want it to do. The two pots are necessary for the functionality above. One changes the sensitivity and the other changes the duration that the LED's are on. If you just want lights for your kit that stay on constantly all you need to do is hook up your RGB LED light strip up to a 12 volt dc power supply and you are golden.

I want it to strobe/flash with every hit, but all the parameters can be set and forget. Though now that I think about it, those might be good to have just for the original setup.

Still, white LED only, which I see someone else has tried and failed at here, so is there another part that needs to replace the switch?
tomatoskins (author)  bretton.melanson3 months ago

Once the pots are set to where you want them to be you can forget about them. As for only making it just white, the least expensive route would be to just get white LEDs

And I don't know what you mean by switch? Are you talking about the Piezo Element or the small switches going out to the LEDs? If you are talking about the Piezo Element that is necessary for the circuit to work. If you are talking about the other switches, since you are only looking to use one color you could do something like the following:

Schematic - Copy.png

well with just white, I won't need whatever it was that lets you switch between colours on the RGB one, the wkennedy comment below mentions he "bypassed the switches" for the same reason. I'm also going to have to look up "how to understand electronic schematics" haha, damn, wish I had taken that class in school now.

wkennedy1 year ago
Ayeeee I don't know what i did wrong, but I've tried breadboarding this twice and I just put the circuit to strip board, and nothing seems to work. The only difference between what I am doing and the schematic is that I am just using a white led strip, not a rgb one, but I just bypassed the switches and I figured that should do the trick..riiiighttt? I hooked up the negative from the strip to the collector of tip31 and the positive from the led strivto the positive rail....if any body could help I would be sosososo happy! ^-^

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jman 31 wkennedy8 months ago

Don't know if you ever got this sorted out, but looking at your breadboard, I can tell to right off that you probably toasted your LED. You need a current limiting resistor in series between the TIP31 and the LED. A 470 ohm resistor should do the trick if you are using 12 volts.

ioka_tauanuu8 months ago

I was reading the blueprint and looking over you actually component and noticed that 555 timer 4 does not go to the power but actually connects to 10k ohms Transistor. Is that true?

follow the schematic and you can't go wrong. It has been verified many times over and works very well.

Erchan10 months ago

would you mean to share any video link while playing this drum?

LukaR12 months ago
I've found a neat RGB LED strip IR remote controller online (looks kinda like this):

What modifications to the circuit (if any) would I have to make to use this with the drums?
LukaR LukaR12 months ago
Also, what should I change if I was to use a one-coloured LED strip?
jman 311 year ago
When you use someone else's work you should at least give credit and not portray it as your own design. Nice instructable though.
Congratulations Jman31! from my point of view, this instructables popularity is clearly your merit! I've also designed this project using arduino on May, but your design i clearly a superior class!
tomatoskins (author)  jman 311 year ago
I know that I found the schematic online quite some time ago and I had saved it on my computer. When I was making the instructable I tried to find it to link back to but I could not find it. If you know where it is please link it here in the comments.
It's no problem, just wanted to mention it. It's an open source project that I shared so you are free to use it. Here is a link to it anyways:
jeanj1 year ago
Any chance you could post a picture showing how everything sits on the outside of the drum?
sebsch1 year ago
Is there a way to use just one circuit for all drum heads?
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