Build your own Drum Kit!

This plan was sent to me by one of our many visitors to The man is very big in the music business, both as a musician, and as soundman for some of the biggest names in the business... so I trust him when he says this thing works! Anyway, try it out and let me know what you think.

Here is another one you might be interested in... build your own rack case. From the looks of this one, you should be able to travel around the world knowing your electronics are safe.

If you have a drum module with trigger ins, you can build this trigger setup pretty quickly and easily. The kit is composed of the following items:

1) A drum module with trigger ins. I'm partial to the Alesis DM5, the sounds are great, has 12 trigger ins and a hihat switch for opening and closing. The trigger ins have adjustible parameters for each trigger for all the fine tuning you'll need. I used to have an Alesis D4, I'm pretty sure the trigger setup is basically the same, but I didn't like the sounds that much so I upgraded. Roland and Yamaha (and some others) have modules used with their trigger kits. These should work as well although I haven't tested them. Novation makes a great drum module but I don't know anything about the trigger ins. Paia makes a trigger to midi converter if you'd rather feed the midi into your sequencer and route it to your keyboard or sampler. I think it's $80 or $90 and the amount of tweaking available is much less. If someone tries this I'd like to know how it turns out. 1) Remo practice pads - they're around $10, they're tunable (sortof), and most importantly you can open them up and put triggers in them.

2) Radio Shack piezoelectric transducers - these again are cheap ($1.50) but work very well. The part # is 273-073. They look like buzzers, and in fact they probably are just that since they operate on the same principle.

3) assorted mounting hardware - Initially, I put mine on a mic stand and mounted them with lab clamps, the heavy duty ones you used to use in high school chemistry to hold beakers over bunsen burners. This setup is also shown above. What is shown in these pictures is a much better method that is actually cheaper. The frame you see is 1 1/4" PVC tubing, and the appropriate fittings, I used a lot of T fittings but there are also L's and end fittings too. All the PVC on this frame probably cost about $20. You can saw right through PVC with a handsaw yet they are strong enough such that the frame doesn't give too much. If you want things even stiffer you can move up to 1 1/2" tubing. You can buy PVC cement to really lock these things in, but the fittings fit tight enough that I'd rather have the flexibility in the setup resulting from being able to pull them apart, and/or rotate the fittings to position pads pretty much wherever I want. My current setup actually has another pad for an extra cymbal, and I moved the hihat pad closer to the snare. The great thing is you can change the layout so quickly and easily. The pads are screwed onto tubes by drilling holes through the tubes and running long bolts through these holes (see picture below). The bolt should have the correct threading for the remo pads to screw directly onto. I forget the specific size but you can bring a pad to the hardware store and get what you need. The cymbal bolts are drilled through the end fittings. You'll have to eyeball the appropriate angle of the holes, but if you get it wrong there's still plenty of real estate to try it again. The stuff is so cheap it's practically disposable.

4) Some kind of footswitch: What you see in the picture above is the on/off footswitch that I had been using as a punch in/out for my 4-track. The DM5 uses an on/off switch as a hihat controller, which isn't terribly natural but works well enough for me. You can get this footswitch at radio shack for around $5.

5) Some drum hardware: I initially just put a piezo on the floor and tapped it for kick trigerring, but I quickly realized that a real pedal would work much better. The picture shows the pedal mounted on a wood L-bracket that I made. The piezo is screwed onto the wood where the beater hits. I've sinced butchered a mouse pad and screwed some over the sensor to soften the kick and add some rebound. It helps a little. I also recently bought a hihat stand and am considering wiring the on/off into it to get a more natural hihat action. A friend of mine went to great lengths to even make the foot closing sound to be velocity sensitive. He eventually settled on using one of the remo pads as the trigger and the hihat stand as the switch, which is probably what I'll do. General instructions The piezo should be soldered to a wire of some sort, cheap speaker wire works fine, don't worry about shielding. I'm pretty sure the polarity has to be correct. The red wire goes positive with respect to the black when triggered, so use the red wire as the "tip" on the connector on the other end. Make it long enough to reach your module and add a little extra. The other end should be soldered to a 1/4" plug or whatever your module is expecting. Plug the setup into your module just to make sure it works The piezo's can actually be carefully broken apart to remove the actual element which is a metal membrane with wires coming out of it. I didn't bother breaking them though for most of the pads above. The remo pads come apart by unscrewing the tuning screws completely. If you don't break apart the piezos, you'll have to cut some of the foam out of the middle of the foam pad to make room for it. Also, leave room for placing a little bit of foam on top of the piezo. If the piezo is flush against the "skin", you'll get a very unpleasant hard rebound when you hit it with a drum stick. A little bit of foam on top of the piezo should prevent this. The alternative, which I'll do from now on, is to remove the element and stick that flush against the skin, which would also eliminate the need to remove any foam. Screw the pad back together. You'll likely have to crush the wire a little bit since it will have to hang out the side. You could be creative and drill a hole into the bottom of the pad, whatever you feel like doing. At this point plug it back in and play it to see how it feels. It tends to be more sensitive near the sensor but that's to be expected. They have a somewhat unnatural off center response, but it's never bothered me, you could learn to use it as another way of controlling velocity. I'm considering trying multiple sensors in the same pad, but for now the single sensor works great for me. Play with the trigger setting on the module. I find that the DM5 default settings were very close to what the piezo's were giving out. I hardly adjusted the gain at all. The velocity curves I set around 4 or 5, but this is a preference judgment really. I also cut the thresholds down so that I could roll very quickly. Overall I think they are as responsive as the Roland pads, they are a little louder since you're not hitting rubber, they bounce as well as the rubber pads but not as much as real drums, and they are not great off axis. And you can't hit the rim like you can with some of the rubber ones. However, these cost about $15 vs $60-$100 or even $300 per drum for those new V-drums! If you're intrigued enough with having just one, go out and buy 8 more! If you don't like it, then you've only thrown about $15 into the project and you still have a practice pad.