Electronic Drum Set

Hello all,

I am well on my way to completing an electric drum brain using the Arduino. I designed a shield for this, which allows you to attach up to 32 analog drum sensors and 8 digital ones. The Arduino sends a serial signal with the drum number and velocity to the computer, which then plays back the appropriate sample.

The breadboard prototype is working well, and I am expecting my first prototype PCBs to arrive in a couple of days. Hopefully I won't have made any mistakes in the routing 8-)

To see more of the design and theory behind this, please see http://drummaster.thecave.homeunix.org/


What are you using for your drumpads?

I remember someone making one before by fusing 2 pieces of foam with foil attached, then a "polka dot" layer in the middle.

I don't feel like looking over schematics, and a quick read-through mentions piezo timings, thus leading me to assume you're using piezo's to detect the hits?

Then I see the problem of piezo's interfering on some surfaces, unlikely, but would require some min- config.

Hello wyatt, I have very interesting your project. It is unique and I come out well, you don't use MIDI interface. But MIDI is very accessible to variety of musical insturuments. Do you have interest to handling MIDI interface?


I am using an acoustic set, with mesh heads and aluminum crossbars inside, with piezos mounted on the crossbars, with a sanding sponge between the mesh head and the piezo. Sounds complicated, but it's not too bad 8-) The current drum master site is concentrating on the actual brain and electronics, but once I finish all the hardware, I will make a sister site which details the constrution of the pads / cymbals.

(The cymbals are still a work in progress; I have a few working ones using molded 1/8" particle board cut to shape, but I am still working on improving the sound and look of these).

For now, you can look at http://edrums.info/5.htm for details on how I made the mesh heads, and http://www.toontrack.com/edrum_for_free.asp for a number of different designs for the drums themselves (I used a variation of http://www.toontrack.com/forum/tm.aspx?m=35473 for mine).


I chose to not use MIDI for a few reasons: 1) I wanted to keep the amount of expensive hardware to a minimum; 2) I wanted to be able to use my own samples (while I’m sure some MIDI synths allow this, there is the problem of predefined MIDI notes: for instance, I have 11 distinct samples for the hihat alone (three pizeo sensors, with three possible pedal states each: open, closed, and tight, plus closing sound and splash). I don’t think that MIDI supports this. 3) MIDI supports 7 bit velocity values; I support 10 bits (in practice, this is probably not going to matter, as I am pretty sure the ADC in the Arduino is not accurate enough to matter).

Now, all that being said, it would be quite trivial to modify my plans for use with MIDI, even without changing the board at all. You would need a power adaptor, since you wouldn’t be using USB power; you would also need a 5 pin DIN connector (the MIDI jack). If you use the same board layout, you would need attach the MIDI jack wires to some free ports on the Arduino. The rest is just a matter of software - instead of sending the port:value tuples which I currently send, you would just need to send the MIDI signals (and change the serial pin to be the one you attached the jack to). I have seen many sample programs in these forums and on Google about how to send MIDI data from the Arduino, so you shouldn’t have any problems there.

The hardware design itself is quite agnostic of both input connections and output protocols. With the appropriate jacks, you should even be able to use any standard commercial drum pad instead of building your own. The shield hardware is basically just a number of multiplexers and some filters / rectifiers / amps; nothing fancy at all!


damnit... do you know how much i spent on my roland set?!... :)... it may as well have been a gazillion bucks...

Hey, sorry I didn't do this earlier! ;-)

That's one of the main reasons I wanted to create this - to get as much (and more, in some cases) functionality as the multi-thousand dollar *oland sets! 8-) My Yamaha is nice, but I can't upload new samples, add more pads (well, I've added a few more, but there is a hard limit on the number of plugs), etc. Plus this project has been a lot of fun!


I got the shield PCBs in over the weekend, and have assembled the first production version. The website has been updated with new pictures and a short (poor quality, unfortunately) video. There are currently four sheild PCBs available if anyone is interested in creating this themselves.


Hello wyatt,

I have seen your movie on your site. I am very impressed. PCB is also cool. If you can, I would like to hear another drum sound.

Well, you are completely in control of the samples which you hear. The slave software (the software running on the computer, which actually plays the sounds) lets you set up mappings between drums and .wav files. The .wav files you hear in the video are ones which I am using from Garage Band (music program on the Mac), but you are free to use anything which you want. (Since the samples from Garage Band are not licensed for redistribution, I unfortunately cannot give them away. However, you can get a number of free (CC licensed) samples from sites on the Internet (e.g. http://www.freesound.org) , or you can record your own. (Once I have completed the drum and cymbal pads, I am planning to rent some nice high-end cymbals, and take a bunch of samples of them.)

However, you are in no way limited to drum sounds. You could play a chicken sound if you wanted to! The video is meant more to see the way that Drum Master allows you to detect the velocity of the strike, as well as to see the (lack of) latency between strike and sample playing. The specific samples used are just a vehicle to convey this information to the viewer.

Hope this makes sense - let me know if you have further questions.


where can I buy it@@ actually I want to watch a video of your great work!!

I still have one PCB left, feel free to email me for details. I don’t sell kits or pre-made ones, though. Check out my website http://drummaster.digitalcave.ca for details and a short (old) video.


Hi there:)

I made a drum set using the SpikenzieLabs Drum kit kit design, but now i want to go full scale, so i have some questions.

Let me start by saying that i have a very basic understanding of electronics and programing so the drum master might be out of my league, so i was thinking if its possible to combine the two projects :smiley: spank me if im talking nonsense :-/

Can one use the 16 analog inputs of the arduino mega, use the code and serial-to-midi software from SpikenzieLabs, but add the filter to each sensor from the Drum Master, so it has better response? This way the price is kept low and the functionality is awesome… 16 pads, oh yeah

Also if all of this is possible (im gonna try it either way, im just having trouble with the scematics), can someone please make a drawing with wires and components in the right order just for one piezo sensor, il take it from there:P (i don’t know how to read schematics).

Thank you and i hope i haven’t broken the rules or something