Introduction: Easy to Make MIDI Hang Drum

The hang drum, also called handpan, tank drum or steel tongue drum, is an instrument that is made from a propane tank (empty of course) with some tongues cut in the metal. The pitch of the notes depends on the size and weight of the tongues.

This project has been designed so that beginners can make it with almost no tools, and without prior knowledge with microcontrolers. As it is a MIDI controller, this isn't a stand-alone instrument, the sound will be generated by your computer or phone. I think that could be funnier and more rewarding than making a traffic light with LEDs.

Step 1: Tools and Supplies

Tools :

  • A drill
  • Screwdriver and wrench adapted to your bolts
  • Scissors or stripping pliers

Supplies :

  • A bowl with a lid

As the hang drum is played on the knees, a 25-30cm bowl is a good size, but you can choose to make a desk version with a small bowl. Note that you will have to drill the lid.

  • 9 washers

I chose spherical washers used to make custom wall lights.

  • 9 bolts (screw + nut). The screw's height must be at least the height of the washer + thickness of the lid + thickness of the nut.
  • 9 pieces of wire, about 25cm long.
  • 1 breadboard
  • 1 Teensy LC

Step 2: Make It Beautiful

Place the washers on the top of the lid, and mark the position of the centers.

Drill holes and screw the washers to the lid using the bolts.

Do a loop with the tip of the wires and insert it between the nut and the lid.

Step 3: Time to Begin With the Teensy

First of all, you will have to install Arduino IDE

Then follow the official tutorials to install the Teensy :

Note : I had a lot of trouble when trying to use it the first time. The FAQ said that the main cause of trouble is the cable : your USB cable must be charge + data. I thought that was not the case for me because I was using this cable all the time. After some hours... it was the cable.

Step 4: Put All Together

We will use the "Touch" ability of the Teensy.

Connect the cables to the pins 0-1-3-4-15-18-19-22-23

Then, in Arduino IDE, select "Tools > USB Type : MIDI" and transfer the program to the Teensy.

You're done!

To use it, I'm using Kontakt with the free bank Hang Drum but if you don't own Kontakt, you can use the free software FluidSynth.