The Arduino DrumKit Kit AI

The DrumKit Kit AI (all inclusive) is a specific type of Arduino platform that receives signals from piezo sensors and transmits them as MIDI signals.  You can purchase the DrumKit Kit AI from in three different forms.  Unassembled – which means you have some soldering in your future.  Assembled – you’ll be buying the cables and piezo sensors separately.  Bundled – ships with cables, sensors and the Arduino board preconfigured with the software (called a sketch).

An overview of the DrumKit Kit AI (literally):

DKK-parts1Image from

While this is a lot of information for an image there are really only two important parts to note.  The “screw terminals for pads” is where you can connect up to six piezo sensors which recieve beats from the drums.  The “FTDI connector” is used to send MIDI signals to your computer via the USB port.  The FTDI connector powers the board so you don’t need to connect the power cable if the FTDI is connected.

The DrumKit Kit AI ships with a sketch already installed.  Once you get qjackctl, ttymidi and Hydrogen running on your Linux machine you should hear drum beats from most if not all of the sensors. I didn’t have much luck with this so I installed a new sketch.  To do so you need to download the arduino software.  Then download this working_sketch and open it with the arduino software to view the changes.  The PadNote values match up to the screw terminals from left to right.

I added the line #include <ardumidi.h> and change the PadNote values to {36,37,38,39,40,41}. These are the values of the first six drums in Hydrogen.  Drag and drop the drums in Hydrogen to order them the way you want.

It should look like this

To upload your sketch to the board select File->Upload or click Ctrl+U.  If you receive errors while uploading then check that no other programs are tied to your USB port.  For example, ttymidi cannot be running or you will get an error when uploading a new sketch. For more troubleshooting, see my ttymidi post.

Once your sketch is uploaded, close the arduino program and start ttymidi.  Then tap some of the sensors to see what type of messages you are receiving.  If all goes well you should see Note on values.  Those Note on values will create a sound once you have ttymidi, qjackctl and Hydrogen working.  For now a Note on message is a good sign!


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