Light Up Drumset

Using an arduino, some disk vibration sensors, an 8-channel relay board, and some LEDs, a friend and I built a light-up drumset for Cleveland's Ingenuity Fest. We used two different sized buckets as toms, a large trash bin as a bass drum, and a wok from our kitchen as a cymbol. By attaching each to their own LED color, we were able to translate drum beats into something visual.


Here's an early test of the sensor, relay, arduino, and light setup with the LEDs outside of the drumset. One of the early challenges was figuring out the right sensitivity for the disk sensors, so that they wouldn't fire off with light touches, but would reliably fire off when the bucket was hit with a drum stick.

We taped the LEDs to the inside of the first bucket and we had our first light-up drum.

After wiring up our high tom (smaller bucket), bass drum (garbage bin), and cymbol (kitchen wok), we played around with some other light-up patterns, like having the lights stay on longer after a hit. It took some adjusting to get everything to fire correcty with the thicker surfaces and differnet materials. We also learned pretty quickly that the very cheap sensors we bought were prone to breaking/misfiring when hit hard, so we ended up having to fix/replace them pretty often.

Finally, we tested out the set in the Ingenuity Fest space. The dark warehouse at ended up being a perfect venue for the drumset and we were able to line some nearby window sills with some lights that were slower to power on, creating a kind of crescendo effect with repeated drum hits.

Here's John making a hot fix to the set after we busted yet another sensor. Luckily these were relatively cheap and could usually be soldered back together pretty easily.

Making a quick fix to the switch on the fly.

Some footage of people using the finished drumset throughout the weekend: