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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

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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

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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

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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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Candlemann4 months 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)  Candlemann4 months 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.

WesH1 tomatoskins4 months ago

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)  WesH14 months 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.

WesH1 tomatoskins4 months ago

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)  WesH14 months 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)  Candlemann4 months 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)  Candlemann4 months 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.
primosanch10 days ago
This is so cool. I had share on Facebook. I, of course, gave you full credit for this instructable. I hope you don't mind.
tomatoskins (author)  primosanch10 days ago

I don't mind in the slightest! In fact, I think it's awesome! Thanks for sharing!

MattW52 months ago
Could you just make this for me? Haha
tomatoskins (author)  MattW52 months ago
Sadly most of the things I make I would charge way too much for. But if I ever change my mind, I'll let you now.
Im so close! I believe I have the circuit wired correctly now. It works but the lights are so dim. I finally realized my LEDs a 300 LEDs per meter and not 150 like the project calls for. I'm guessing I need a larger amp supply but not sure Here's the specs for my LEDs and my circuit.
I mean 300 for 5 meters or 60/1 meter. I'm lining up 14 inch snare twice if that helps.
tomatoskins (author)  rance.northern2 months ago

Sorry it's taken so long for me to get back with you. I really like how much you cleaned up your wiring. If using two layers of strip is bright enough for you then go for it! If it's still isn't bright enough, you'll need to get different strip. As long as you are still using 12vdc power supply, your driver is correct.

I'm using a 12vdc 1amp
size M. I'm also reading about 8.4 V between ground and the output of TIP31. And 1.4v between +12v and my lights.
tomatoskins (author)  rance.northern2 months ago

Hmmmm... I'm wondering if something is going on there or if I don't understand what you are saying.

From your emitter (the arrow on the TIP31) and ground should just be a wire so there shouldn't be any voltage drop at any point in time. The voltage drop should be somewhere around 1.2 volts across the emitter and collector when the circuit is active. And the remaining voltage should be left across the LEDs.

Let me know if that does or doesn't make sense.

Yes it does. I believe i misspoke when I said output. So I'm reading 8-9vdc between my emitter and collector before being triggered and avg 4.5vdc when triggered.
tomatoskins (author)  rance.northern2 months ago

Hmmm... Honestly the whole 12vdc should be across the collector and emitter when it's not triggered because it's acting like a switch. If it's working and you're just not sure if the led strip is as bright as it should be, disconnect it and connect it directly to the 12v power supply. Remember it will still be a little less bright anyway just because there will always be a voltage drop on the TIP 31. Anything past that you will need to get a brighter LED strip.

Hmm I honestly thought the ones I have are brighter than the ones you used in the project. But I do have the exact LEDs you used coming in today so I will give that a shot and let you know. Thank you again for all the help and your patience.
tomatoskins (author)  rance.northern2 months ago

Well that's super awesome then! I thought you were still having issues with them being dim so that's why I made that comment. I'd like to see your whole kit when it's done.

Let me know if I can help with anything else!

Ok so I still had the same issue with the exact lights recommended. When I say dim I mean you have to look super close to see it. So it's getting the signal or voltage, just not enough. I'm reading 0v between the base and collector, 9.2v (not triggered) between collector and emitter. At my LEDs I'm reading 1.7v always. I connect direct 12v to LEDsand they light. I've replaced the lead from my TIP31 to led. Now when I strike the trigger, my avg reading between collector and emitter is 4.5v. I know that doesn't sound right especially when I'm reading 1.7 all the time at my LED lol

tomatoskins (author)  rance.northern2 months ago

Yeah, that's super weird! Hmmmmm... Let me think about it for a few days (since it's almost 1 in the morning and I am in no way capable of thinking anything through in a coherent manner tonight). I'll get mine out to do some poking and prodding over the next few days.

Some things to do in the meantime, try swapping out your TIP31. Also try disconnecting the resistor from pin 3 of your 555 and connect it straight to your +12vdc to see if it will turn on the LEDs at that point. Also verify the resistor values of of R3 and R4. Make sure that those are correct.

Those are the only things that I can think of to try tonight. When I think of more, I'll let you know.

I got it!!!!! I had my TIP31 mixed up. I flipped it around and swapped my collector and emitter. Thanks again for all your help and patience. I will gladly post a pic once my kit is finished.
tomatoskins (author)  rance.northern2 months ago

Excelent! Yeah, for things like that, it's usually things like that. I'm excited to see how it turns out! Are you going to set up your whole kit?

Yes definitely! 2- 22in kicks, 10, 12, 16, and 2 snares. I will gladly send pics when I'm finished up!

ok so I replaced my TIP31. I noticed that mine says TIP31AG and yours says TIP31C, is there a difference. I got mine from radio shack sku 276-2017. I checked R3 (reading 148 ohms) and R4 (reading 1k ohms). I disconnected R3 from pin 3 of my 555 timer and connected it to +12vd, and my LEDs did not light up.

Ok will do! I'll let you know if I find anything in the meantime.
I'm new to electronics so I know the wiring can be condensed but I'm having trouble getting it to work. Any thoughts?
Also when I turn potientometer for the duration arcs when I turn it 3/4 of the way on the 12v side.
I also moved the 12v wire for the LEDs to the correct place which is not pictured above
tomatoskins (author)  rance.northern2 months ago

From what I can see, I don't think you have any wire connecting your emitter to ground on your TIP 31. I'd love to help out any way I can.

I got it to work but the LEDs are very dim, what would cause that?
Ah I completely overlooked that. Thank I'll give it a shot tonight, thank you!

my dad would love this!!!

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