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Portable Drum Kit for a Young Maker



From my RaisingGeeks blog:

How to turn this stuff into a portable drum kit…

When I was at Maker Faire Bay Area this summer (already seems like a very long time ago!) I met the guys from Spikenzielabs when I purchased my Solder:Time watch. We also purchased a POVARD for my older son who was with me, and purchased the Drum Kit Kit AI (AI = All Inclusive) aka DKKAI for my younger son as a present. He has an electronic drum set and takes drum lessons, but wanted a drum kit that he could take for visits to his grandparents. The DKKAI is an ATMEGA168-based kit that comes with piezo sensors to make your own drum pads.

Once I got the set home, I realized it was a MIDI-out kit – you needed another device to make take the MIDI signals and make the drum sounds. I purchased a USB MIDI cable from Amazon for about $5 after realizing I couldn’t buy the cable ends for $5 :) I played around with MIDI and a laptop, but most of the MIDI sound programs were overly complicated for his age. When I went to Maker Faire New York, I spoke again to the Spikenzielabs team for ideas. The first improvement was adding the “DKKAI Roadie” – which is a small daughterboard that sits on the DKKAI. The roadie allows you to easily change the mapping of each drum head to a specific MIDI note, and then stores this mapping in the ATMEGA eeprom. This GREATLY simplifies configuration of the kit, since you don’t have to do all the mapping in code (or get out a computer, FTDI cable, etc.)  The Spikenzielabs guys didn’t bring any Roadies for sale with them to Maker Faire NY – but they GAVE me their display Roadie at the end of the Faire since I couldn’t buy one :)

Then, a few weeks ago, I started really exploring IOS5 on the iPad – I realized that since I’d last used IOS, they added USB MIDI support via the poorly named “Camera Connection Kit”. Turns out that USB MIDI with GarageBand is a snap, and many of the other apps like the iMS-20 synth from Korg support USB MIDI. I now had a target setup – the DKKAI, the DKKAI Roadie, a USB MIDI cable, the iPad Camera Connection Kit, and an iPad with GarageBand. While it seems complicated, it is all very plug & play, which I knew would work well for his age.

Now I needed to take all these parts and turn them into a drum kit!

Read the rest of the blog post here – Raising Geeks: Portable Drum Kit

One thought on “Portable Drum Kit for a Young Maker

  • waterbury

    Congrats on making HaD, Ian!!!!!


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