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DIY mesh conversion of a simple drum set

Pad-to-mesh conversion of an electronic drum set (Alesis DM6) using low cost toy drums

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My DIY project with e-drum set went a bit further than I expected.
Starting from a cheap rubber pad drum set (Alesis Burst with DM6 module) and some bits and pieces, I manage to create something I really enjoy playing with.
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In this project I put a bit information for those who seek "inspiration" regarding:

- diy mesh pads
- alternative kick pedal pad support
- diy piezo trigger
- DM6 module "conversion" to custom pads (more like adapting)

Additionally I plan to reinvent cymbals and get a DIY drum module, but quarantine is not going to last forever, so maybe these steps will take time.

Demo of the result so far (don't mind my "technique"):

There are few different topics to cover, each can be interesting on it own.

  1. diy piezo trigger
  2. making custom mesh pads
  3. making kick pad (using one mesh from #1)
  4. "adjusting" DM6 electronics.
  5. things I have tried and decided to move on. 

For each there is going to be a full set of instructions, in case one decides to follow the road.

3D printed components can be found here: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:4296480

The following illustration summarizes* it all pretty well:

* basic cheap drum module was 'improved' by converting it to mesh.
The drum head are based on toy drum kit with 2x8" and 1x12" 'drums'.
To make them work with original drum module it needed some hardware 'adjustments'.

  • 1 × Everything is based on Alesis Burst kit (with DM6 module) (250€).
  • 1 × Kids acoustic drum set (2x8" and 1x12" 'drums') (<30€) Cheapest I could find
  • 1 × Polyurethane foam for cones normal for cones and dense for spacers
  • 1 × 6mm silicone tubes thicker is better, this is what i had
  • 1 × bike saddle with a seatpost that one is my favorite solution

View all 14 components

  • 3D printed plastic

    Evgeny05/10/2020 at 09:45 0 comments

    So, originally, all bits and pieces I have printed using PLA or PETG material - they looked indestructible and were available during the lock down.

    But after a month I noticed that the hooks holding rims start to deform. Nothing critical so far, but to avoid surprises, all the parts have been redesigned and printed in ABS.

    So far so good.

  • major revision of the project

    Evgeny04/26/2020 at 17:28 0 comments

    Once I got oscilloscope, the work went ahead.

    When i saw real signals from my pads, I decided to fully redesign trigger geometry and adjust feedback filters of the electronics. I have updated all the instruction and ...

    I could not be happier with the result.

    Next update will be with a live demo

  • Piezo orientation

    Evgeny04/22/2020 at 17:39 0 comments

    Apparently, you don't just glue piezo as you wish - the ceramic should be facing the mesh:

    Placing it upside down will add >5ms delay and will remove that crucial first peak that is most likely being analyzed by pulse processor.

    now I need to get rid of this mesh hi freq vibration.

    So now I need to flip all the sensors and to start analyzing what happens to the signal inside the analogical debris of the drum module.

  • 12 tom level

    Evgeny04/21/2020 at 07:59 0 comments

    Something that I definitely need an oscilloscope for.

    The drum module has bunch of presets (like rock, jazz, brush... etc), and it seems that signal processing for these presets is different. I did non notice any traces from MCU to the filters (opamps with RC feedback) so I am guessing it is some software shaper. 

    The issue is that on some presets the volume of 12" tom becomes lower then 8" toms. It is not really a problem since I use custom presets anyway, But it would be really interesting to understand what really happens. 

    Once The quarantine is over and i get my hands on oscilloscope I will definitely check it out.

View all 4 project logs

  • 1
    Piezo triggers

    There are so many different design of triggers in the internet but... Vast majority of them do not really look like a thoughtful solution or something reliable.

    Initially, I started with a classical design of a foam cone in a center:

    But there are two problems with that: A - very poor isolation from the shell and B - mesh vibrations are huge. The later is nice if the drum is acoustic and all, but with electronic module, all this vibration are hard to filter. This is a typical signal from piezo  like on the picture above (with mesh on):

    There are around 100-150ms of oscillations, and if second hit arrives in this period, it is not going to be as much reliable as one would prefer.

    So here is my attempt to make it better. Fist, no cone. Just a ugly shaped foam brick between mesh and piezo, and complicated support for that piezo:

    The trigger consists of: two pegs made of dense 8mm polyurethane foam, 3mm thick plastic plank with circular hole in the middle (dia is 2mm smaller then piezo), layer of rubber (from bicycle tube), 27mm piezo (robust one, I think murata), and a brick made of soft foam. The top of the foam extends about 1-2mm above the drum shell. Everything is connected together with double side tape.

    Here how the signal looks like (1 peak - mesh not installed yet, 2 and 3 - with mesh):

    there is still bunch of oscillations, but considerably less than before, and the main peaks are much more pronounced.

    The plastic piece can be downloaded here: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:4315796

    Finally, the front end electronics for the trigger consists of single trimmer (50-100 kOhm) connected like this:

    This part depends a lot on electronic module, the shown solution works well for the modified DM6 module by Alesis.

  • 2
    Mesh pads

    The pads are based on toy drums which already have most of the needed bits (like rims and screws) and what missing, I 3D printed.

    List of main steps:

    1. Preparing shells
    2. Trigger and "electronics" (see another instruction)
    3. Rim "mufflers"
    4. 3D printed parts
    5. Final assembly


    1. Preparing shells

    Original 8" toy drums were 4" height so I split it into two nice 2"x8" shells. Old school way:

    Same way, I prepared two plywood bars 20x190mm (10mm thick). Good thing about plywood, if you have a nice cutter, like on the photo, you can use it on instead of a saw.

    There is a bunch of holes in the original shells, but they do not create any problems as far as I can tell.

    So these bars are installed on the bottom part of the shells and hold the drum trigger. I attached them using glue and toothpicks (drilling 2mm holes for them first):

    Repeat 5 times and it concludes the "woodwork" part.


    3. Rim "mufflers"

    Rim mufflers are basically some rubber material on the edge of a rim. From limited selection of raw materials in my house, I found out that 6mm silicone tube works pretty well.

    I split cut it along and then used soldering iron (380C) to glue them together (putting 4mm drilling bit inside). Not my finest work, but it does the trick:


    4. 3D printed parts.

    In order to hold everything together few custom parts are needed. Apparently 3D printed parts are strong enough to be used in drum pads so here is what I made.

    (final models uploaded here: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:4296480)

    First, the hooks to attach rims to the shell (one of few designs that I tried):

    And second - rack mount. here is a bit different for the small (left) and bigger pads (right):

    Small pads can be mounted without any extra fastening, whereas the 12" pads are dead fixed to the mount with 4 M4 screws.

    The 20mm tubes (pvc and aluminum) are then fixed into original mounts from Alesis' pads.


    5. Final assembly

    It's pretty much obvious where all this goes, so here are some pictures of assembled pads (some with old triggers, dont mind that):

  • 3
    Kick pad + pedal.

    The original kit had a simple electric pedal. After few lessons I realized we will never find common language and i had to move on.

    First, I have bought an inexpensive kick pedal, and then tried to ding a way to attach a trigger to it.

    (final 3D models uploaded here: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:4296480)

    I have tried quite a few designs, my own and copied from internet, but in the end nothing can beat my final solution:

    It a bike saddle with 27.2mm seatpost attached, and a pad fixed with a zip ties. Here is the back view:

    The best part of it, this design has no problem with repeated triggering.  At least loosing a bit the mesh and lowering the beater (you can see about 2cm of the rod on the photo).

    And final note, the original pedal was a bit too small for me, so I decided to keep the plank from the original pedal. 

View all 4 instructions

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Discussions

Evgeny wrote 05/06/2020 at 19:35 point

Hi, that is unfortunate.

I can check the resistor, I happened to have photos of all the guts. 

If you could just point me to the R180...

  Are you sure? yes | no

sometimes1979 wrote 05/05/2020 at 16:37 point

Hi - As someone who just dug his Alesis DM6 out of the garage this is a great mod! Though I've ran into a problem with mine - doesn't power up. When I opened it up looks like the resistor at R180 had blown. I know it is a long shot but do you happen to know the value of that resistor?

  Are you sure? yes | no

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