Kenney and I have been kicking around the idea of setting up a light system in his kick drum for a while now, with the original idea being that we could mount an LED panel in the kick drum and run a DMX line off of Arkaos and control the light from there. He’s using a drum trigger pedal, so the actual kick drum housing would be just for show.
Unfortunately, my calculations based on the throw distance and the angles on the available LED panels meant that this wasn’t going to be a doable project, as the light wouldn’t fill the entire face of the drum, nevermind the cost of the LED panel and a DMX controller.
I got the idea that I could maybe just use a single high-power LED or a series of lower powered LEDs in the drum, and along with a piezo trigger, run a lower-tech version of what we wanted, at a fraction of the price.
Rather than planning everything out on my own, I began scouring the net to see if someone else had already done this, and sure enough, I found a guy that had done this, and even had provided a schematic to a novice like myself (you need to create an account to view the schematic).
The hardest part to find was the 3W Luxeon III LED, but luckily I was able to pick it up from allelectronics.com for $5. While I was at it I grabbed the rest of the parts I needed from either there or from Mouser.com.
Now I just need to wait for the parts to arrive.
Once I had the parts, and once I could clear The Mole off the breadboard, I got started on prototyping the Triggered Drum Light.
Since the schematic was fairly simple I breezed through things, using jumper wires to hook up the LED, which was actually the trickiest part of the whole project, since the contact pads on the light were so irregular.
As you can see, things worked awesome (aside from me having The Mole on my mind and calling it a “Light Sensitive Drum Trigger”, granted that would be pretty cool too). This is using a small piezo element as a trigger (taped to the drum head), but I was able to plug in a Roland PD-6 drum pad and that worked just as well. There are two potentiometers on this, one for sensitivity and one for pulse length. The pulse length works great, but I was having a little difficulty with sensitivity, as anything less than “most sensitive” yielded sporadic results. I left it in anyway, as I didn’t know how it would perform with the kick trigger, and it would be easier to take it out down the road rather than add it back in.
Next step is working on the board layout and getting this thing soldered to a PCB.
Much like The Mole, I wanted a detailed diagram of this drum light’s board layout before I started soldering (I still consider myself a newb, and a schematic alone wasn’t going to be enough for me. So much like The Mole, I started laying things out in Visio.
My original intention was to use the other board that came in the package for The Mole (it came as two 1 3/4″x1 3/4″ boards with a perforation in the middle), but I couldn’t get everything to fit on the board without having some janky in-line components. Being an impatient guy and not wanting to wait for an on-line PCB order to arrive, I ran up to Rat Shack and bought a slightly larger board measuring 1 7/8″x2 7/8″ (Part No. 276-150). It had plenty of buses for me to run the project on, the only unfortunate thing is that I still only needed half of this board. Luckily it’s still small enough to fit in a lot of smaller enclosures.
So I had a layout made, it was now time to get soldering.
I spent about 3 hours meticulously soldering part after part onto the PCB, stopping a few times to clean up solder messes I had made. When it was done, I hooked up power, hooked up the trigger, switched the power on…
And there was nothing.
I started pouring over every solder point, making sure all components were soldered in nice and good and that my solder sloppiness didn’t create a short. Everything looked good. Swapped out 1/4″ cable on the trigger. Nothing. Checked the battery and there was plenty of juice. Started looking at parts again, and had a “DUH” moment. I forgot to put the 555 IC into the socket I had soldered into the board. Put the chip in, and what do you know, it worked!
Since I wanted at least a temporary housing for this, when I was at Rat Shack I also picked up a plastic enclosure. I drilled up some holes and put it in the box.
Here’s another test of the Light, this time with a rundown of controls.
Next step will be getting this mounted to the drum.