Introduction: Building a Drum Machine With Low-cost Tangible Interface (d-touch Drum Machine)

The d-touch drum machine is a drum machine with a tangible user interface: you can make music by placing and arranging physical objects on an A4 piece of paper. To make tangible beats you need some old stype cut & paste. This instrctables explains how to construct the physical parts of the interface.

The d-touch drum machine software can be freely downloaded from

Here is a video briefly showing the finished product and a very quick overview of the making process:

Step 1: Get the Ingredients

For this instructable you will need:

- a computer running Windows, OS X or Linux
- a webcam
- a printer (ink-jet for best results)
- A4 paper
- 5 or more A4 sheets of thin printable cardboard (e.g 180 g/mm2)
- 4 pieces of size A4 or bigger of corrugated cardboard 3-4 mm tick; this can be obtained from used cardboard boxes
- paper & cardboard cutting tools (scissors or knife)
- paper & cardboard glue
- adhesive tape or masking tape
- the d-touch drum machine software downloadable for free from
- a network connection (this is for our research, see above)
- lentils or other small beads

Step 2: Download & Print Blocks

Download the d-touch drum machine blocks pdf:
Print it on thin cardboard. For best results use an inkjet printer.

Step 3: Cut & Fold the Blocks

Cut along all dashed lines, paying attention to the small segments.
Fold each block along the solid lines.

Step 4: Glue and Close

Glue the flap and close each block.

Step 5: Fill With Lentils

Fill the blocks with lentils to make them more heavy.
This step also augments the blocks sound making potential.

Step 6: Print the Camera Stand Files and Glue to Corrugated Cardboard

Download the camera stand pdf file: and print it on normal paper.
Glue each of the pages to a piece of corrugated cardboard about 3mm tick.

Step 7: Cut the Stand Parts

Using a knife cut the cardboard along the dashed lines on the printout. Make a half cut along the solid lines, so that it will be easier to fold along them.
Assemble the camera stand as shown in the photos.

Step 8: Setup Camera on Stand

Place two heavy books, or other heavy objects, on the flaps at the bottom of the stand to make it more stable.
Attach the webcam to the stand using an elastic band.

Step 9: Print the D-touch Drum-macine Board

Download the drum machine board pdf file:
Print it on normal paper. For best results use an inkjet printer.

Step 10: Download and Activate the Software Application

Create an account on
Download the d-touch drum macine installer from our website, here are the links:
Windows installer: and
OS X installer:

Installing should be straightforward (if it's not please let us know on our forum!

Launch the configurator application. Go to the activation tab, enter your username and password and click on "activate". Make sure that the "activated" message appears under the password field.

If appropriate use the other tabs in the configurator application tune the parameters for your audio card (otherwise leave the default values).

Click on OK to close the configurator.

Step 11: Start the D-touch Drum Machine Application

Start the d-touch drum macine application.
On OS X a configuration dialogue for the camera will pop up, please select the appropriate options or leave the defaults, and click on OK.

You should have a window showing you the view of the webcam (in grayscale).
Adjust the paper and the webcam so that the four corners of the board are in view.

Step 12: Fix the Board to the TableI

If possible, fix the board to the table using some tack, or some masking tape.

Step 13: Adjust Focus and Light

Adjust the camera focus and the light in the room so that the four calibration markers at the corners of the board are recognized and highlighted.
It is best if they are stable, but it can be ok if they blink a little.

If you see a large rectangle in the centre of the image, this means that the application does not see anything :-( please try to adjust light and focus until the rectangle disappears.

Place some blocks on the board and check that they are recognized and highlighted, if not try adjusting the focus and light again. It is best if they are stable, but it can be ok if they blink a little.

Step 14: Play and Share!

That's it! Your d-touch drum macine is now up and running.
Enjoy making tangible beats and share videos or pictures of your d-touch drum machine setup on your favourite video and picture sharing sites. Send us links and comments throug the forum:

Art of Sound Contest

Participated in the
Art of Sound Contest