DIY Electronic Drum Kit

I bought an Alesis DM5 drum machine off ebay and it gave me an idea for a christmas present for my brother. The plan was to make the drum pads and frame to create a functioning drum kit with the Alesis unit..

For the pads I used 3 piezo transducers linked together to form the sensor. These create a voltage when the pad is struck. This signal is picked up by the Alesis DM5 and is used to trigger a drum sound. The piezos have dynamic response, so that if you hit them softly they produce a small signal, hit them harder and they produce a larger signal. The corresponding drum therefore plays softer or louder, giving realistic dynamics when playing the drums.

The pads are constructed from 10mm MDF cut into octagons. These are attached to a length of 28mm pine dowel which provides location and adjustment. The piezos are attached to a metal plate which is sandwiched between 2 foam mouse mats and the MDF octagons. The whole pad is held together internally with double sided tape and then duct taped around the edges.

The frame is made from lengths of 28mm wooden dowels with custom wooden clamps to hold the frame together and locate the pads. The design for the two types of clamps is shown below. I needed 5 double clamps and 4 single clamps.

Here is a finished double clamp with the wing nuts for adjustment in place. These took a long time to make as the 28mm drill bit I intended to use produced a hole that was too big, more like 29mm, even when using my pillar drill. I ended up using a 27mm hole saw which then needed sanding out to the right size. I did this with a cut down flap wheel and a lot of effort.

The assembled kit is shown here. The clamps provide adjustment for the location of the pads. Looks pretty cool eh?.

Unfortunately I did not have enough time to complete the kit before christmas. I managed to get the frame, 9 clamps, 4 completed pads and 1 temporary pad ready for christmas. We were able to get a very basic kit working out of these parts, enough for a bass drum, snare, hi-hat, floor tom and cymbal. Over the next few weeks I'll build the remaining tom and cymbal pads and a proper pedal attachment for the bass drum. Oh, and also add a pedal for the open/closed hi-hat sound.

My bro was pleased with the present and said that it played suprisingly well. Cool :) Here is a link to a video of Kev playing the drumkit..