Introduction: Light Up Drum Kit

Picture of Light Up Drum Kit

As a drummer, I love drums. I love how they look; I love how they sound. As a electronics dork, I love building and designing circuits. It was only a mater of time before these two loves would come together. With this kit you will be able to install RGB lighting inside each of your drums that reacts to the vibrations when you hit your drum. Not only will you be able to adjust the sensitivity, but the duration that the lights are on as well.

Step 1: Parts Needed

Picture of Parts Needed

Parts needed:

  • Drum Set
  • 12VDC Transformer (Plug Size M)
  • Size M Panel-mount Coaxial DC Power Jack (Radio Shack SKU: 274-1563)
  • Printed Circuit Board (Radio Shack SKU: 276-149)
  • Project Enclosure (Radio Shack SKU: 270-1801)
  • PC Board Terminals (Radio Shack SKU: 276-1388)
  • LED Light Strip (I got mine here)
  • 1uF Electrolytic Capacitor (x2)
  • 555 Timer
  • 2N2222 NPN Transistor
  • TIP31 NPN Transistor
  • 1N4007 Diode
  • 100K Ohm Trimmer (x2)
  • Piezo Element as the drum trigger (I got mine here because it had a self adhesive foam to attach to the drum head). If you would like it to look more professional you can actually use a real drum trigger as found here.
  • 150 Ohm Resistor
  • 470 Ohm Resistor
  • 1K Ohm Resistor
  • 10K Ohm Resistor
  • Braket
  • Wire
  • Heat Shrink Tubing
  • Solder
  • Gorilla Glue

Tools Needed:

  • Drill
  • Drill Bits
  • Dremel Tool
  • Heat Gun
  • Screwdrivers

Step 2: Project Enclosure & Circuit Board

Picture of Project Enclosure & Circuit Board

We need to cut down the circuit board with our Dremel tool so that it will fit inside our project enclosure. Cut the corners off and size to the enclosure.

Step 3: Create the Circuit

Picture of Create the Circuit

I started out designing my circuit on a breadboard. If you feel confidant, you can go straight to soldering your parts together. You can find a video of the circuit on the breadboard here.

Step 4: Project Enclosure Modifications

Picture of Project Enclosure Modifications

Cut holes in the enclosure in order to access the things that are needed - like your sensitivity and duration pots. You will also need to cut three additional holes: a hole for the power coax connection, a hole so that you can change the color for your LED lighting and a hole so that you can connect your wires into the circuit. 

Step 5: Install Lighting

Picture of Install Lighting

Take the drum head off. Cut the LED strip to the needed length. Run the wires through the air vent. Attach to the inside of the drum using the self adhesive backing on the LED Strip. Replace drum head and tune. 

Step 6: Drum Trigger (Piezo Element)

Picture of Drum Trigger (Piezo Element)

Now install the piezo element or, if you sprung for the drum trigger, install it in place here. I needed to lengthen my wires to reach my circuit. The piezo element that I used had a self adhesive pad on it to ease installation.

Step 7: Attach the Mount

Picture of Attach the Mount

Using Gorilla Glue (and tape till it dries), attach a mount. This is just a fencing mount that I found at my local hardware store. Make sure that the hole is larger than the diameter of your tension rod. 

Step 8: Mount Your Circuit and Wire It Up

Picture of Mount Your Circuit and Wire It Up

Now put it all together and have fun! Remember that you can change the sensitivity and duration using the pots and a small screwdriver. Whenever you are sick of the current color, you can easily change the color using the DIP switches in the circuit. Lastly, here is a video of the drum in action. I will post a video of my full kit when all my drums are finished. 


Candlemann (author)2014-11-07

If you wanted to make this for 5 drums could you use one controller or would you have to make a separate controller with a separate power supply for each drum? How could you modify this controller to use only one power supply and have 5 inputs and outputs?

tomatoskins (author)Candlemann2014-11-07

I would be really easy to modify this design to control 5 drums in one controller. The only thing I would look for is a high enough amperage on your power supply. I'm currently away from my kit right now (I'll be there on Tuesday) but if I remember correctly, for this one circuit you need 250 mA. So if you were to combine all 5 circuits for 5 drums into one controller, you'd want to have a power supply around 12VDC and 1.25 Amps. Since that isn't a very common value, I would try it at 1 amp or if you can find 1.5 amps or 2 amps either of those "should" work fine. It definitely won't hurt anything.

As well, one thing you can try since you are making a larger controller, instead of using a bunch of micro switches, try a few potentiomiters to control the color of each drum very procisely. I'm thinking that you might like the result. At the very least, play with the idea on your bread board.

SirCooksalot (author)tomatoskins2016-09-04

I know this is old, but hopefully you're still here! I'd love to do this to my drums, I'm debating doing this or springing for the Drumlite kit... But I feel like the kit is pretty steep for what it is. Do you remember what it cost you to complete this build? Their 5 drum kit is about $300! I think I can buy a lot of LEDs, a wireless remote, a power source, etc. for more like $100, but that's a pure guess based on nothing lol. So am I way off? Or could I build 5 of these, 2 strips per drum (1 top, 1 bottom), for a Benjamin baby?

tomatoskins (author)SirCooksalot2016-09-06

No worries, I'm still around! :) From what I remember the most expensive part of this build was the LEDs. To figure out how much LED strip you will need, take the diameter of your drum and multiply it by Pi (3.14). If you are wanting two strips per drum multiply that by two.

For a 14 inch snare the formula would be: 14 x 3.14 x 2 = 87.9 inches

Using this formula for my Yamaha Stage Custom, I would need 465 inches, 39 feet, or about 12 meters of LED strip. So if the LED strip that you can source is cost effective enough, it would be much better to buy your own.

Let me know if you have any other questions that I can answer.

Candlemann (author)tomatoskins2014-11-08

Thanks for the info. I've got almost zero experience with this kind of thing, but I can follow directions really well. I'm almost certainly going to be sticking with the single drum and continue searching for instructions for an all-in-one solution online. I've found several where each drum is an individual unit, but keeping all those batteries charged or finding 5 power outlets is way too much hassle. I do like this design the best, though. Thanks for sharing!

tomatoskins (author)Candlemann2014-11-08

I'll be at my computer later today so I can re write the schematic for 5 drums if you'd like. It's really not that much different. You'll just need a larger enclosure for it.

m6255 (author)tomatoskins2016-01-07

Hello, by any chance did you redo this for 5 drums? Id be glad to pay you for your time this means a lot to me

tomatoskins (author)m62552016-01-08

I sadly didn't. My funds ran short.

Candlemann (author)tomatoskins2014-11-08

Man, that would be amazing! Thanks so much!

tomatoskins (author)Candlemann2014-11-08

Alright, so I added the image to step 3 as well. But you'll basically create the same circuit 5 times and tie all the +12VDC rails together and all of the grounds together. I looked at the specs of my personal led strip and for my kit I would need a total of 225 inches of LED strip. My calculations show that it would need between 5 and 6 amps on the power source to get the full brightness from the LED's. That would allow you to run the whole system from one power supply. I would suggest using some sort of connector for each drum trigger (maybe 1/4 mono cable, they are really easy to find around musicians) and some sort of 4 contact connector for the LEDs as well. You might need to do a little bit of research for that one.

Let me know if you have any other questions. I'm always happy to help!

Candlemann (author)tomatoskins2014-11-10

Thanks so much!

WesH1 (author)tomatoskins2014-11-19

Im quite curious about controlling the colors by potentiometer instead of DIP switch. Do you think a dual gang pot might work as a replacement for the DIP switch? Any ideas would be great. Thanks!

tomatoskins (author)WesH12014-11-19

I don't think that you'd want to use a dual gang pot just because the purpose of using pots or DIP switches is to mix the RGB channels together. If you used a dual gang pot or even a triple gang pot (if you could ever find one) it would just brighten and dim all three channels the same. I would assume that the resultant color would be various levels of white.

Hope that answers your question.

WesH1 (author)tomatoskins2014-11-19

Thanks for the response, and that makes sense. Im still rather new to dabbling in electronics...and I'm not very familiar with dual gain pots, so i figured i would ask.

Sorry but I have another question... if I wanted to use 3 different pots to control each color, am I somewhat close? (I attempted an illustration)

Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!

tomatoskins (author)WesH12014-11-19

Don't ever be sorry for having a question! It gives me an excuse to stop doing my Calculus homework.

That looks correct to me. Since I had my trusty TI-89 handy, if you used 3 1KΩ that would be equivalent to placing a 333Ω resistor from positive to negative directly across your power supply. If you are running 12 volts like most all LED strips do, that should only draw around 36mA if all your pots are turned in the "off" position. And assuming that is correct a 1/2 Watt pot should work. However, since electronics are hardly ever where they theoretically should be, I'd suggest getting a 1KΩ pot rated for 3/4 Watt. Depending on the cost/availability of that, you could probably move up to a 2,3,4, or even 5K pot and you should be fine with a 1/2 Watt pot. The only down side to using a larger pot is that there will be less of your pot that you can use. Meaning that if you have a large pot, your LEDs may turn off after only turning your pot 1/3 of the way around.

I hope this helps! Let me know what other questions you have.

TheGreatO (author)2013-08-18

Hi, thanks for the fantastic instructable, I've been looking for something like this for ages. Do the LED's gradually after the drum is hit or are they triggered straight on and off like a standard monostable? I'm guessing you could add a capacitor to make a more gradual dim if so? Thanks :)

tomatoskins (author)TheGreatO2013-08-18

Remember that there are the two potentiometers in there, one changes the sensitivity and the other changes the duration. If you wanted it to be even longer than what this circuit is limited to then you would just need to mess with the resistance value of your pot and the capacitance value going from pin 7 to ground. Hope this helps.

dmo711 (author)2017-12-28

Great write up! It was a great help to me in my project (

tomatoskins (author)dmo7112018-01-05

Amazing project! I've been wanting to revisit this with a microcontroller twist but I have never had the time. Thank you so much for sharing your project with me!

OrbitalT (author)2017-05-25

Hey, I'm sure this project is long lost in your memory but I'm looking at using this for live performances and would like to be able to change the color from my lighting desk. I've been looking into it and I think using a BPE DMX Audio Controller to split my DMX signal into a simple analog pot signal. Plugging that straight into where the current dip switches are.

Also, would you happen to have a picture of the back of the board?


uvin (author)2017-04-10

Can you pls answer the red question on the variable resistor connection in the image attached below??

tomatoskins (author)uvin2017-04-10

For the sensitivity pot:




For the duration pot:




uvin (author)tomatoskins2017-04-10

thank you very much. I was able to light up my drum set thanks to you. Thank you very much for the design and helping me out as soon as possible.

tomatoskins (author)uvin2017-04-11

I'd love to see a picture/video when you get it all set up!

uvin (author)2017-04-07

I have a problem with the connection in the duration trimmer. is both the signal and the ground pin connected?? Beacouse the timer IC heats up pretty fast,

uvin (author)2017-04-04

What should the current be on the 12v dc supply for 1 drum??

tomatoskins (author)uvin2017-04-04

That entirely depends on your LEDs. There should be a current requirement per length of LED strip. Since the circuit doesn't use much current at all, I'd just go off what your LEDs require.

MitchelP3 (author)2017-02-25

Very cool man!

Massimilianom13 made it! (author)2017-02-20

Thank you very much, I'm using it on my electronic pad.

Now I want to use led driver and audio amplifier at the same time.

How can I protect audio amplifier from currents generated by led driver and avoid any kind of sound noise?

I'm thinking about two diodes like as shown in the image.

IonutD4 (author)2017-01-23

Hello from Romania! Congrats for your work! It's an interesting project since it combines my two passions: drums and electronics.

I've tried to do this project using the schematics you put up, but something isn't working. Instead of a RGB led strip, I've used on the breadboard simply a normal LED, and the whole circuit is simply not working. And I don't have any idea why.

Do you have any idea how the schematics should look when you use a single LED?

I've attached some photos of the breadboard. Can you please have a look and maybe give some ideas why isn't working?

Thanks in advance!

Fretless (author)2016-10-21

I am building a project just like this for the drummer in my band, I was wondering, is it possible to use a pressure sensitive resistor in place of the sensitivity pot? I figure I'd probably need to connect another resistor to ground in order to make it work though. Thoughts?

tomatoskins (author)Fretless2016-10-21

You probably could make it work. However I'm not sure if the changing of the resistance from the trigger to the ground would cause other issues. Try it and see what happens.

Fretless (author)tomatoskins2016-10-21

Yeah, I was wondering about that, I know if I didn't want to use a pot I could use two resistors one going each way, but using a pressure resistor is different entirely.

WIDEKAZZ (author)2015-12-13

I already made it, but I want to know if there is a way to add an Arduino using PWM for color changing. Thank you for the Instructable :D

(Arcuino circuit)

tomatoskins (author)WIDEKAZZ2015-12-14

There definitely is! I've never done it, but I do have plans of making my own electronic drumset in the future where I will.

These two instructables might be a bit of help to you:

abaumgartner2 (author)2015-10-29

would it be possible to use a 12v battery or even a 9v battery to power it? if so would you just strip the power supply and connect the ends of the PSU wire to the battery connections?

Yeah, just swap out the 12vdc in the schematic with your 12v battery and it'll work just the same. Pay attention to the Amp Hours rating on the battery. The lower the number the less time the battery will last.

also, would I be able to use these LEDs:

If you are just wanting red then these will work great!

awesome, can't wait to try this out with my drumline!

MarcoS35 (author)2015-10-07

I'm attempting this following your schematics but i'm having some troubles getting it to work properly... the LED strip is always ON!!!

I have taken it apart and done it again but got the same result.. Not sure what I'm doing wrong.. any idea anyone?

As soon as I connect the power the LED strip lights up immediately, turning the pots makes no difference and hitting the piezo neither.

I am using a white LED strip but i have tried also using the RGB one, the result is the same. I think all components are the correct ones. For the sake of testing I have also turned around the transistor (to make sure that i connected it properly) without luck, LED is either it's always ON or always OFF.

I have a doubt on how to connect the pots, I'm not sure i'm making it right. See my last image for better understanding on what i mean.

I hope the images are clear enough, otherwise I'm happy to take new ones of the details you need.

A huge thanks to anyone who tries to help!:)

rance.northern (author)2015-05-29

So since I've figured out the complete circuit, I've tried to find different switch options and working on what works well for a live show. The first pic is the original that you so patiently helped me with. And the last is where I'm at so far. I've been looking into different enclosures solely to have exterior switches and pots. But I'm happy with where I'm at for now and I'm in the process of duplicating it to complete the kit. Just wanted to share and say thanks again!

Hahaha this is so awesome! I love it! I've honestly been thinking of revisiting this project in a few months. I'm thinking of building my own electronic plexi kit while using a micro controller to drive various lighting effects. It honestly wont be for a while, but it's good to have dreams!

primosanch (author)2015-03-19

This is so cool. I had share on Facebook. I, of course, gave you full credit for this instructable. I hope you don't mind.

tomatoskins (author)primosanch2015-03-19

I don't mind in the slightest! In fact, I think it's awesome! Thanks for sharing!

MattW5 (author)2015-01-16

Could you just make this for me? Haha

tomatoskins (author)MattW52015-01-16

Sadly most of the things I make I would charge way too much for. But if I ever change my mind, I'll let you now.

rance.northern (author)2015-01-08

Im so close! I believe I have the circuit wired correctly now. It works but the lights are so dim. I finally realized my LEDs a 300 LEDs per meter and not 150 like the project calls for. I'm guessing I need a larger amp supply but not sure Here's the specs for my LEDs and my circuit.

I mean 300 for 5 meters or 60/1 meter. I'm lining up 14 inch snare twice if that helps.

Sorry it's taken so long for me to get back with you. I really like how much you cleaned up your wiring. If using two layers of strip is bright enough for you then go for it! If it's still isn't bright enough, you'll need to get different strip. As long as you are still using 12vdc power supply, your driver is correct.

About This Instructable




Bio: My name is Troy. I'm a Mechatronics graduate studying Mechanical Engineering. I love making things and doing anything outdoors (especially SCUBA diving). I am ... More »
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