Drumkit MIDI project

The goal of this project was to build a powerful yet inexpensive MIDI drum kit.  By building my own drums and using practice pads with piezo sensors I am able to control the volume of the drums.  I can select how loud the speakers get or just practice without any sound at all.  The MIDI setup also provides more flexibility since I can change the sound of the drums to any .wav file I choose.

The links below describe the settings I used to get the software working to the point where I can tap a piezo trigger and hear sound coming from my laptop speakers.  Getting the software to work was a time consuming process so I hope this makes it easier for you and helps save you time.

I started off building the drum.  After a little research I found Mike LeBlanc’s website edrums.info where he posts step by step instructions.  I followed his Rock Band setup to build my first drum.  His tutorials are great for building the hardware.  I also have a few practice pads that I can attach triggers to.  You can attach a sensor to just about anything, and I plan to experiment with that in the near future, but for now I will be using the drum and practice pads.

The tutorial on eDrums.info uses the PlayStation controller to send output to the RockBand game.  In my setup I want to output the MIDI notes to my computer instead of to the Rock Band game.  I found the Arduino DrumKit from SpikenzieLabs to be a great option for this project.  The customized Arduino takes input from six piezoelectric sensors and turns them into MIDI signals.  An FTDI cable connects the Arduino DrumKit board to the USB port on my computer.  There is also an option to send MIDI straight from the board to a MIDI input device using a MIDI cable, but for now I’m sending it to my computer.  The DrumKit ships with the board, piezo sensors and both cables.

I’m running Ubuntu Linux on my laptop and a few software packages that are listed below.  Similar software is available for Windows and Mac, but this tutorial focuses on Linux.  I created this website to walk you through the steps I’ve taken to get the kit up and running.  Your comments are always appreciated.

At this point my configuration consists of:

  • Drum built from instructions on edrums.info
  • Three RealFeel 12″ practice pads
  • Six piezoelectric sensors connected to the Arduino DrumKit Kit AI from SpikenzieLabs
  • DrumKit board connected to laptop via USB cable
  • Laptop Running Ubuntu Linux 10.10 – Maverick Meerkat
  • Installed software includes: ttymidi, qjackctl and Hydrogen