Help me make a drum controller

Hello everybody. Recently I game across a few vids of a game called DTX mania and I was blown away from it. However, getting into this game is prohibitively expensive because you need an electronic drum kit to play it properly. Just a basic electronic drum kit is 200 bucks and I can’t afford that right now. Not to mention buying a cheap kit like that I am guaranteed the pedal will break.

The official controller for the game sucks and is about 100 bucks from playasia and the rock band drum kit doesn’t have enough pads plus it is pure trash so that leaves me trying to make an electric drum kit on my own.

There are a few guides online for building electronic drums however they are meant to be used with a drum module which are also very expensive. I was hoping to wire the pads to a controller but the senors that the pads used called, Piezo Transducer, apparently put out too much voltage for controller pcbs to handle.

Here’s a guide on how to use a piezo transducer to make a drum pad if anyone is unfamiliar. Also here’s another interesting guide of an electric drum kit with a drum controller hooked up to a controller. that uses a custom drum pads hooked up to a drum controller that is also in turn hooked up to a controller. I have no idea how to read schematics so I don’t know what they did. If anybody could explain it I’d greatly appreciate it.

Other than researching how other people make drum pads I applied what limited knowledge I have from wiring up pads to trying to make drum pads. The first thing I did was try hooking up a push button as the trigger and it didn’t work out too well as you can tell in this [media=youtube]mrZVYHWtVJw"]vid. I also tried doing what ddr pads use and using tin foil. I tried using two pieces of cardboard, the bottom the ground and the top the negative, spaced with other cardboard and that also [It did seem to work better than the push button so I had went ahead and made a better version using better contacts and an actual wooden frame for the spacer and a mouse pad for the top part but it didn’t work much better than the cardboard version.

So now I come to you, my fellow SRKers, for help. What I’m interested in getting help with is resolving the voltage issues to use the piezo transducers with a controller PCB because they are by far the most responsive and cheapest to use. If not I’d like to run with the DDR pad circuit idea and I was wondering if I could cut up a cheap 20 dollar gamestop ddr pad and hook them up as buttons. Also would that be sensitive enough? Additionally, if anyone has some other suggestions to use I’d appreciate it as well. Please SRK, help a man achieve his dream of playing the drums without being cramped for space or being hassled by my old cranky neighbors. :pray:

EDIT: here’s another [URL=""]guide]("[/media) on how to make custom digital drum pads with piezo transducers and a drum module.

Also forgot to ask if anybody knows what sensors rock band drums use and how they work that’d be helpful.


I also want to build a DIY drumset for Drummania or DTXMania. Piezo-transducers are the real deal for this task, however the signal that comes out of it is not the one needed for interfacing with a controller (this is explained in the link to the 2nd guide you posted) hence the use of a circuit board to translate the piezos responses. If you cannot understand the schematic but know how to use a soldering-iron then ask a company to etch a PCB for you, buy the components and assemble the lot.

I see on the instructables site (wondeful creation, btw) some pics of a DIY kick pedal, yum ! It’s time to start something.

buy a roland v drum kit and get it over with lol

^ Yeah… 200$ versus 2000$. Rolands are expensive.
Edit ~ Toontrack is awesome It still looks pretty expensive, though.


There’s another idea for the pads: use some SPST momentary switch like this instructable:

No need to have extra circuitry but you will lose sensitivity (not bad in this kind of game but if you want to reuse the electronic pads into a more professional setup)

What kind of company does circuit board etchings and how much would something like that cost?

I would but it’s too expensive and I don’t know any crackheads with a set that need some quick cash.

Yeah I looked at that site but again it’s all designed for use with a drum module. Wiring up a trigger isn’t my problem, it’s how to get it to interface with a controller that I need to figure out.

I went to radioshack and looked at all their push buttons but since I didn’t get very good results with the arcade push button I didn’t try any of them out. Maybe I’ll stop by today and pick one up.

Also soon as I made this thread I came across this thread on the Rock Band forums that are attempting to do the same thing as I am. Funny that I discover the thread after I make this post because I had looked through the rock band forums a few times and didn’t find anything prior. Hopefully someone on there can figure it out. Some people have had some success but there are still some issues they have to iron out.

Man, people IMing me questions REALLY need to start telling me who they are. I didn’t know that was you Monte.

For one off jobs, BatchPCB does it for like $10 + $2.50 per sq in. The prices from other places get reasonable once you’re at the $100 mark, and get damn cheap at a geometric rate from there.

Do you have any information on HOW the DTX game receives its information? See, the piezo’s, when struck, do produce voltage, but they reverberate some. Check this:
The way its being used there, he keeps track of the time it is high, on the first bump. The longer its high, the harder it was hit. Without seeing out the game interprets hard hits from soft hits, if it does at all, a lot of this is shooting in the dark. I could tell you a way to hook it up that ‘technically’ works, but is unplayable.

The reason I didn’t want to start going into how to hook it up directly to a PSX controller is because the piezo is HIGH when struck, and low when not; the opposite of any common ground pad.

REMOVED: The setup in the instructable is much better than this route. Adjustable sensitivity, and should work with any pad.

Yes, Rock Band drums use a piezo.

EDIT: Finally took a look at the link.
That’s a pretty slick setup, and not difficult to make, and doesn’t require a microcontroller. You wouldn’t have to get a board etched unless you really wanted to; some time and care with a protoboard could make that without too much difficulty. The analog switches he uses are the 4066n’s, the same ones I use with non-common ground xbox360 pads, so they’d work with ANY controller.
Seriously, this is the one you’d want to make.