MATRIXSYNTH: Nerd On The Wire DrumKid "aleatoric" Drum Machine

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Nerd On The Wire DrumKid "aleatoric" Drum Machine


Published on Aug 22, 2019 Nerd On The Wire

Nerd On The Wire also brought us the Synth Guitar for DesignSpark Summer of Sound Challenge, and PolyMod open source modular synthesizer for Hackaday 2018.

"DrumKid is an 'aleatoric' drum machine, meaning it uses random numbers to determine the rhythm and sound of a drum beat. It comes in a handheld, battery-powered unit, designed for live performance.

This is my entry video for the 2019 Hackaday Prize - the Hackaday project page can be found here: https://hackaday.io/project/164521-dr...

This project is open source - all design files can be found here: https://github.com/mattybrad/drumkid"


"Drum machine are ubiquitous in modern music, but playing them live presents a challenge. When playing electronic rhythms live, whether using a drum machine or a laptop, it can often appear that a musician is simply pressing "play" on a backing track, removing much of the perceived spontaneity of a live performance.

My drum machine, DrumKid, aims to tackle this problem by using a variety of controls to alter a drumbeat live, using randomly generated drum hits which augment the original beat. Rather than being designed as a pre-programmed backing instrument, DrumKid aims to be a playable instrument in its own right, with continuously adjustable controls that work well in a live setting. My intention was to create an engaging, interactive device that, like any musical instrument, can be mastered over time with practice.

DrumKid is an open-source, hackable product based around an ATmega328 chip, as found in an Arduino Uno. The final product features a minimalist design consisting of a single PCB with buttons, knobs, and LEDs mounted on one side, and all other components mounted on the other side. Two laser-cut sections are used to protect the electronics.

I now have a fully working prototype of DrumKid, and I am happy with the audio quality, playability, aesthetics, durability, reliability, and battery life. I am planning to make a small, initial batch of DrumKid units in September to distribute to musicians for testing. After any necessary updates to the PCB design and/or firmware, I hope to build a larger batch of units and launch DrumKid for sale around November/December 2019.

DrumKid can also be constructed as a breadboard/stripboard project using an Arduino Uno - see the build instructions for details."

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