Super GrooveAxe: Mini Drum Machine




Feel the Tiny Boom!

Ever feel like you're missing some beats? Does your day need a better soundtrack? Feel the boom with the Super GrooveAxe! It's a pocket sized, battery powered drum machine & sequencer that you can take anywhere. It makes every moment special.

The Super GrooveAxe is available as a kit on Gadget Gangster

Here's a demo:

Teacher Notes

Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.

Step 1: FAQ

What is the Super GrooveAxe?
The Super GrooveAxe is a mini drum machine / sequencer. 4 sounds are available, and the playback speed of the pattern can be controlled.

How do I use it?
There's a switch on the Battery Box, flip it on. The Red light will start blinking about every 1/4 second. Push one of the 4 sound samples, and you'll hear it play. The sample will repeat, and you you can layer on the other samples with each repetition to build up a complex pattern. The replay speed of the pattern can be controlled with the tempo button;  push it once to change the tempo. Wait for as long as you'd like the tempo to last, and hit it again. Your pattern will now play with the new tempo.

Where does the sound come out?
Sound comes out from the 3.5mm Audio jack on the top center. You can plug it directly into headphones or to another amp / input with a dubbing cable.

How long do the batteries last?
I haven't been patient enough to run the batteries all the way down, but I'd estimate around 30 hours of play time. It runs on 3xAA's. 

Is it hard to put together?
NO!  In fact, it makes a great first-time project.  If you've soldered stuff before, it will take you about 20 minutes to put together, a little more if this is your first time.

Where does the sound come out?
The sound comes out of the 3.5mm headphone jack. 

How big is it?
The GrooveAxe will fit in your hand, it's about 4" x 1". 

The original GrooveAxe was designed by Grandtippler - he has re-done the audio samples and I designed the PCB for this improved version.  A kit or bare PCB are available on Gadget Gangster.

Step 2: Preparation; Tools

This is a great project to learn how to solder. There are a ton of great instructables on how to solder (one here)

You'll need a few tools to assemble the project;

1 - Soldering Iron and solder. Leaded solder is easier to work with, and a 15-40 watt iron is just fine. A conical or chisel tip works well.

2 - Dykes. Diagonal cutters are used to trim the excess leads from components after soldering them down. 

3 - Batteries. The Super Grooveaxe runs on 3xAA batteries.

If this is your first electronics project, I suggest you start with an inexpensive soldering iron. Why? Because you'll be able to get a feel for doing electronics projects without spending a lot of money. If you enjoy yourself, then you can upgrade to better equipment and give your 1st iron to someone else who is just starting out. I offer an Elenco kit that includes a 25 Watt iron, stand, wick, and a solder sucker for $25 (pictured below). You can also get a pretty nice Weller iron on Amazon that includes extra tips and solder (but no wick or solder sucker) for $15.

Step 3: Preparation; Parts List

Here are the parts you'll need to put your Super GrooveAxe together. If you've ordered the kit from Gadget Gangster, double check to make sure your kit has all the parts listed. If there's anything missing, just email us at

U1: PICaxe 08M Microcontroller
Available from Revolution Education, unprogrammed. But if you get it as part of a kit, the PICaxe will come pre-programmed.
Qty: 1

Eagle 3xAA Battery Box
Mouser Part #
Qty: 1

Kycon Sp1 / Sp2: 3.5mm Headphone Jack
Mouser Part # STX-3100-5N
Qty: 1

3M 8 PIn DIP Socket
Mouser Part # KMDGX-8S-BS
Qty: 1

Lite On 3mm Red LED
Mouser Part #
Qty: 1

Omron Tactile Switch
Mouser Part # B3F-1000
Qty: 5

Xicon 47uF Micro-Miniature Electrolytic Capacitor
Mouser Part # 140-L25V47-RC
Qty: 1

PCB: Super Grooveaxe Circuit Board
Available at Gadget Gangster

R1, R3, R5: 1/4W 10k ohm Resistors (Brown - Black - Orange)
Qty: 3

R2: 1/4W 3.3k ohm Resistor (Orange - Orange - Red)
Qty: 1

R4: 1/4W 1k ohm Resistor (Brown - Black - Red)
Qty: 1

R6: 1/4W 100k ohm Resistor (Brown - Black - Yellow)
Qty: 1

R7: 1/8W 3.3k ohm Resistor (Orange - Orange - Red)
Qty: 1

R8: 1/4W 330 ohm Resistor (Orange - Orange - Brown)
Qty: 1

Step 4: Make It: Part I

It's easiest to start with the smaller components, so let's begin by adding the resistors.

Add the 3x 10k ohm Resistors at R1, R3, and R5. They are identified with color strips - the stripe pattern is:

Bend the leads, insert the resistors, flip the board over and solder them down. Finish them by trimming off the excess leads with your dykes.

Step 5: Make It: Part II

Let's finish up the rest of the resistors:

Insert the 220 ohm resistor (Red - Red - Brown) in R2

R4 = 1k Ohm resistor (Brown - Black - Red)

R6 = 100k Ohm (Yellow - Black - Brown)

R7 = 3.3k Ohm resistor (Yellow - Yellow - Red)

R8 = 330 Ohm resistor (Orange - Orange - Brown)

Insert them, flip the board over, solder down, and trim off the excess leads.

Step 6: Make It: Part III

Now add the switches, each goes on the board as shown in the photo. You don't really need to trim the excess leads on these.

After that, add the Capacitor - it goes in the area marked C1. The Capacitor is polarized, so make sure the longer lead goes through the square hole (the one closer to the +). The shorter lead (which is also closer to the stripe painted on one side of the capacitor) goes through the circular hole.

Step 7: Make It: Part IV

Add the LED in the area marked 'LED'. The longer lead goes through the square hole, the shorter lead goes through the top hole (the hole closer to the edge of the board). Flip over the board and trim the excess leads.

Add the 3.5mm Audio Jack in the center area marked 'Sp2' and 'Sp2'. The jack will click right in - just snap it in, flip over and solder it down.

Step 8: Make It: Part V

Last thing to do is add the power and the micocontroller.

First add the DIP socket at U1. Note the notch on the Socket is closer to the 'U1' marking on the PCB.

Then, add the battery pack. Take the 2 wires coming from the battery box and string them through the hole on the board. Then, tie the wires in a knot. This will add strain relief. Finally, solder the red wire to the connector marked with a +, and the black wire to the connector marked with a -.

All Done!

Step 9: Testing It

To make sure it works, just add 3xAA batteries to the battery box. There's a switch on the battery box, flip it to 'ON', and the Tempo light should immediately start blinking. Don't forget, you'll need to plug in headphones to hear the sounds!

Step 10: Download

I hope you enjoy the Super GrooveAxe! Let me know what you think by commenting on this instructable or sending me an email at

Here are the hardware and firmware files for the Super GrooveAxe:

Schematic (.png format)

Layout in DipTrace format or jpg

Buy the kit from Gadget Gangster;



    • Indoor Lighting Contest

      Indoor Lighting Contest
    • Make It Fly Challenge

      Make It Fly Challenge
    • Growing Beyond Earth Maker Contest

      Growing Beyond Earth Maker Contest

    20 Discussions


    2 years ago

    Anybody who have downloaded PCB,Code and Schematic please? Links not working :( If you have send me it please to email:

    Luigi Pizzolito

    6 years ago

    It would be cool if you connected the power source to a USB then put your own switch


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Do the pcb names correspond with the numbers on the schematic such as R1, R2, R3? I noticed the switches don't...


    9 years ago on Introduction

    On the step seven, ain't the LED connected backwards? Because on the PCB the flattened side is the same that you tell to be the longer lead, positive. But the flattened side is negative.. Anyways Great instructable!

    3 replies
    Gadget GangsterJodex

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Normally you would be correct.  The PCB also shows the correct marking.  But the kit comes with a very weird LED from Mouser which flips the leads. 


    9 years ago on Introduction

    am I the only one who was like wtf when they saw the susan b anthony quarter, why would you use that for comparison, wouldn't it be much more convenient to use a regular coin that's still in circulation? I'm not trying to be a naysayer, that just strikes me as odd.

    2 replies

    Ha! I got those from the light rail ticket machine.  I had already deposited my quarters and this was all I had left.

    What's wrong with Susan B. Anthony?  Don't like suffrage?

    that's kinda cool, I've never actually come across one before, I have one that was given to me though. It would be neat to just get one like that. I'm certainly not opposed to women's suffrage.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    That's a nice little kit.

    How easy is it to alter the sounds?  Are there plans for a version with a programming connection for the PicAXE?

    4 replies

    That would rock so hard!  I was just thinking last night about a digital didgeridoo - maybe that will be the next instrument. 

    As for re-programming, I decided not to include a programming jack to keep the size down, but the chip is socketed, so it's easy to pull out and reprogram.  

    If you're familiar with the picaxe, changing the sounds isn't that hard (Grandtippler's code is on the last page of the instructable), the sounds are defined at the end of the code.  It is hard, though, to get interesting sounds.  I think that takes a lot of experimentation.  And to re-program, you'll need a programming cable


    The didgeridoo sounds good (analogue control?).

    I stand by my question, and expect a video in the near future: BohemianRhapsodyAxe!


    Grandtippler also did a stylophone (the NoiseAxe - it's on instructables).  That makes for a 2 man band, but it probably will need more melody. 

    He also did the MemAxe, but that's more of a musical 'simon says' game.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    hmm.. i been interested in looking at picaxe for a while now.
    i mainly use arduino stuff , custom boards mainly cos its cheaper to make my own XD.

    wouldn't mind trying this out if i can source the chips cheap xD

    3 replies

    The PICaxe is great when you need cheap & simple logic.  You're not going to drive a video display, but you can use it to do plenty of basic logic stuff.  Programming it is easy, but  the 08M is pretty memory constrained.

    You can get the PICaxe from sparkfun - I think an 08M is $5, and the programming cable is $25.  I've also started playing with the kic chip, which is a freeware version of the PICaxe.  There's more info on the Kic here.

    For me, I use a Propeller when the project has advanced requirements, and a PICaxe when I just need basic logic.  

    I'll prolly stick with the arduino stuff for now XD

    how hard do u think it would be to build an arduino version of this using an atmega168 or 328?

    I not an arduino expert, but it shouldn't be that hard.  You'll need to do some basic FM synthesis, but if you can pwm an LED, it should be similar.  

    This project uses a PICaxe for size (only 8 pins) and cost (a PICaxe 08M is $5 and just needs a single resistor to run).  There are plenty of other uControllers that would meet those requirements, though.