Light Up Drum Kit




Introduction: Light Up Drum Kit

About: My name is Troy. I'm a Mechatronics graduate studying Mechanical Engineering. I like to make things and spend time outdoors (especially SCUBA diving). I am a Community Manager for Instructables.

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.

Step 1: Parts Needed

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

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.

Step 4: Project Enclosure Modifications

Cut holes in the enclosure in order to access the things that are needed - like your sensitivity and duration pots. You will also need to cut three additional holes: a hole for the power coax connection, a hole so that you can change the color for your LED lighting and a hole so that you can connect your wires into the circuit. 

Step 5: Install Lighting

Take the drum head off. Cut the LED strip to the needed length. Run the wires through the air vent. Attach to the inside of the drum using the self adhesive backing on the LED Strip. Replace drum head and tune. 

Step 6: Drum Trigger (Piezo Element)

Now install the piezo element or, if you sprung for the drum trigger, install it in place here. I needed to lengthen my wires to reach my circuit. The piezo element that I used had a self adhesive pad on it to ease installation.

Step 7: Attach the Mount

Using Gorilla Glue (and tape till it dries), attach a mount. This is just a fencing mount that I found at my local hardware store. Make sure that the hole is larger than the diameter of your tension rod. 

Step 8: Mount Your Circuit and Wire It Up

Now put it all together and have fun! Remember that you can change the sensitivity and duration using the pots and a small screwdriver. Whenever you are sick of the current color, you can easily change the color using the DIP switches in the circuit. Lastly, here is a video of the drum in action. I will post a video of my full kit when all my drums are finished. 

Musical Instruments Contest

Finalist in the
Musical Instruments Contest

Kit Contest

Second Prize in the
Kit Contest



  • Creative Misuse Contest

    Creative Misuse Contest
  • Water Contest

    Water Contest
  • Fix It! Contest

    Fix It! Contest

103 Discussions

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?

14 replies

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.

I know this is old, but hopefully you're still here! I'd love to do this to my drums, I'm debating doing this or springing for the Drumlite kit... But I feel like the kit is pretty steep for what it is. Do you remember what it cost you to complete this build? Their 5 drum kit is about $300! I think I can buy a lot of LEDs, a wireless remote, a power source, etc. for more like $100, but that's a pure guess based on nothing lol. So am I way off? Or could I build 5 of these, 2 strips per drum (1 top, 1 bottom), for a Benjamin baby?

No worries, I'm still around! :) From what I remember the most expensive part of this build was the LEDs. To figure out how much LED strip you will need, take the diameter of your drum and multiply it by Pi (3.14). If you are wanting two strips per drum multiply that by two.

For a 14 inch snare the formula would be: 14 x 3.14 x 2 = 87.9 inches

Using this formula for my Yamaha Stage Custom, I would need 465 inches, 39 feet, or about 12 meters of LED strip. So if the LED strip that you can source is cost effective enough, it would be much better to buy your own.

Let me know if you have any other questions that I can answer.

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!

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.

Hello, by any chance did you redo this for 5 drums? Id be glad to pay you for your time this means a lot to me

I sadly didn't. My funds ran short.

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!


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!

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

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.

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 :)

1 reply

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.

This same circuit would still work for an led strip of one color right?

I know this is a huge favor to ask, but do you think you could draw up a bread board diagram (I don't know what they're called) because I can't read the schematic well and I've burnt out almost all my transistors?


7 months ago

Great write up! It was a great help to me in my project (