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Ideas for DIY triggers on the cheap

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  • Ideas for DIY triggers on the cheap

    I have been thinking about adding some cymbal triggers to my growing set, but then I just bought 4 hard rubber pads off for $10 each. Not being a drummer, I realized I don't have any particular NEED to hit a thing that LOOKS like a cymbal. I have my ride cymbal on a hard rubber pad and it's OK for my needs. So then I thought, after this liberating revelation, what else could I do now that I have broken free of convention?

    I see that you can get raw piezo triggers for about 50 cents to a dollar each. My DDTI still has at least 5 unused inputs, so I figured I could mount little "things" with piezo in them for such things as ride bell, splash, alternate tom hits (e.g. as supported in AD2). I saw one instructable article where the guy just mounted the piezos into small hunks of 2x4s. The only challenge with that (that wasn't discussed) is how to mount these to the rack with a bit of isolation. Foam and double sided tape I suppose?

    Then I was thinking about cymbal chokes. AD2 chokes a variety of cymbals just with a specific note. So, why not get a momentary switch, maybe a microswitch with sort of a flat thing set up so you can reach over and press it, and then send that switch to ALL choke inputs at once? Let's face it, if you are choking a cymbal then you are using both hands and only hitting one cymbal and then choking it, so there is no performance tradeoff of having one switch for choking all cymbals (long as they don't make any noise if a cymbal is not already ringing).

  • #2
    Next random thought, I saw that there are practice cymbals (e.g. rubber) that you can get for about 10 dollars. I'm thinking it wouldn't be that hard to stick a piezo near the edge and another one near the middle to get a two zone cymbal. Yet I haven't found too many (i.e. none) DIY examples of this. Other than wires flapping around, which are easier to contain inside a drum shell, is there any functional reason such a setup (on a cymbal) wouldn't work? Let's suppose I want cymbal bow and bell sounds. I don't really care if the bell is really on the bell or "one side of the cymbal vs. the other". With crosstalk settings like on the DDTI it should be possible to suppress dual notes being generated while still having velocity sensitivity on both triggers. Is there some real world problem I'm missing?

    While I find all of this fascinating, I am constantly balancing the following desires:

    a) Not spending money on things that don't work
    b) Not spending time on things that don't work
    c) Fascination with technical solutions to creative problems - electronic drumming abounds in this area
    d) desire to play the guitar instead

    I'm a (nearing retirement) electrical engineer with a fascination for digital sound effects and have done a lot of DSP programming in that realm. I see there's a guy here inventing a new drum trigger module with a GUI for setup, that looks really cool. There are (relatively) accessible musical device programming platforms such as https:/ where you have a little module that can read 8 voltages and 8 switches and then subject that to whatever processing you like, but the projects based around that tend to go into new, rather than traditional instruments (such as the perfect hi hat controller).
    Last edited by Digital Larry; 04-21-19, 10:13 AM.


    • #3
      Just one thought.
      Most commercially available dual zone cymbals (and rubber pads for that matter) tend to be Piezo Switch type and not Piezo Piezo type.
      I think the reason for this would be that it would be difficult (impossible) to isolate two Piezos if you installed them on the same solid pad, whereas you can use the single Piezo and then detect an additional input from an edge switch and switch between two sounds.
      Three zone Rides still use one Piezo and two switches, one for the edge and one for the bell.
      Most dual zone Piezo Piezo Pads have high isolation between the Piezos, one mounted on the shell/rim and the other in the center of the mesh head, so highly isolated.


      • #4
        That makes sense. I'm currently gathering materials to make a couple (single zone) cymbals out of 6 inch sanding disk doodads for the electric drill. Those are really small though and for high hat, which one is apparently hitting almost constantly, I may spring for a larger practice cymbal and slap a piezo on it. I'll probably post a photo after the cymbals are in place so you can all have a good laugh.


        • #5
          i wouldn't laugh.. ..this would look great for a splash 7" ..
          glue a Pintech RS-5 trigger on it and done.. .. ok, you could make your own piezo trigger but i'm a bit lazy diy-er..
          "the obstacle is the way"