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Gastri'c DYI

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  • Gastri'c DYI

    As some of you may know I purchased my first drums ever recently in the form of an ancient 1990's S&S Industries drum trigger kit, Pintech Visualites, all attached to an old Gibraltar rack, controlled by an Alesis DM4. It's fun, compact, but the triggering isn't ideal. You can read more in THIS THREAD.

    Anyway, rather than investing my time dinking with the S&S triggers I trolled Craigslist for a cheap used acoustic set to convert. I came up with a person selling TWO complete Groove Percussion 5 piece kits with pedals, thrones, hihats, and ride/crash, plus a Groove Percussion double pedal super cheap. I figured I could just resell them for my money back and then some if I opted not to convert.

    Obviously I did or I wouldn't have this thread.

    So countless hours of trolling, searching, reading, and accumulating links and how-to photos and graphics I took the plunge recently and purchased WAY TOO MUCH crap to do my conversion. Seriously, it's been a lot more involved than the simpleton DYI conversions seem to indicate.

    I've been keeping all receipts and by my calculations I've spent $12.03 plus tax on just the Beatnik hardware and a Neutrick stereo 1/4" jack. That doesn't include any of the electronics nor a mesh head. Figure another $2.80 for the foam for a cone, $0.50 for a piezo, and lets say $0.30 worth of wire, heat shrink wrap, and zip ties. Brings it to a total of $15.63 to convert a single acoustic to electronic. Plus a mesh head. Damnit, and a wire to connect to the brain. Round up and assume $20 worth of stuff to take an acoustic and be able to trigger with it and connect it to a brain.

    I purchased all Hart mesh heads for the kit for a total of $160 shipped for all 5 drums. So I'm up to $260 for converting JUST the drums. The cymbals will probably cost another $140 or so to convert two 14's, two 16's, and a set of 14 hihats. Just a rough guess. So $400 plus a brain (I'll try to build a MegaDrum), plus the cost of the actual drums and cymbals. Just throwing out numbers to others to consider and help base future decisions on.

    But even so I guess that doesn't sound too expensive when you consider a basic TD3 kit starts at almost $1K, plus a bass pedal, plus a throne.

    Anyway, onto my first batch of pictures!

    Red drum kit. This is what I envision the completed kit containing once completed. Pictured in the back is the S&S kit. All this crap, plus my computers (plural) and workplace desk is currently all jammed into my 12x12 home office. I can barely move.

    Rubber expansion nut or well nut, however you prefer to refer to it. They're branded expansion nut at any hardware store. Picture shows the raw nut which is rubber with a threaded insert bonded inside and the nuts installed on a piezo plate. Figured this photo is educational for anyone who's never used one before.

    And this is what it does for your peizo plate. The bottom rubber flange is in between your cross bar and the piezo plate. As you screw the screw the threaded insert moved downward towards the plate and creates a rubber bushing on the top of the plate, thus a big rubber sandwich is born!

    I stated with the blue kit as my test kit to screw with. I figured I'd make my mistakes with the blue kit first and have honed my skills to perfection by the time I move to the red kit which is what I plan to keep. Since both kits are identical I could theoretically simply uninstall the crossbars from one and stick in another. Or maybe I'll create two kits and sell one off. Haven't decided yet.

    One tom with a broken piezo and my first cone set on top to test the crossbar depth. Unfortunately I'm going to have to lower the crossbar all the way and will still have the piezo 1/4" above the drum edge. This is using 1 1/4" 10-32 screws per Beatnik's specs. He didn't say to use washers between everything which I did and that likely ate up some adjustability. But even without washers it doesn't leave a huge amount of adjustability. I'd go with 2" screws for connecting the corner braces and crossbar on my next build. I'd be easy enough to swap them out as well, just a little time and yet another item to buy! JOY! haha

    Note my cone is actually pretty conical it's just my camera angle is titled which makes the whole thing look lopsided. I did a jig as pictured in the stickies. I just punch out three circles, stack them, put the base on wax paper so it doesn't stick to the jig, and turn-and-cut. Pretty easy and I enjoy looking at reasonably attractive cones. However, if professional factory made cones were available for $4-$5 each I'd probably just buy them and save myself the headache.

    At this point I just have to fully assemble one tom, test with my DM4, and assuming successful cut more cones and install all the piezos. Heads arrive Monday, and viola! Onto cymbals.

  • #2
    Here's the parts list and pricing notes I've kept along the way. Note I've bought all the hardware at either Home Depot or my local Ace Hardware. I prefer HD for the pricing but they are always out of stock on things and it's a further drive. So I often just buy stuff at Ace which is a 90 second car ride away. Plus those friendly Ace employees are almost worth the extra cost. You can literally give them your parts list and they'll get everything for you. I'm thinking it beats spending 90 minutes in HD mindlessly searching for where they keep their product which is what I usually end up doing since there's rarely an available employee there that knows the whole store, or even their own section "Wow, I've never seen expansion nuts before. I didn't even know we had these. What do they do?" Anyway, enough of my HD bashing!

    1" Aluminum C channel ($8.49 for a 48" section at Ace, so lets say $3 per drum and you'll have a little leftover for next time)
    (2) 3" corner braces (4-pack UPC#030699153077 for $2.39 @ hd, so $1.20 per drum)
    (4) M4-.70 x 16mm screws for attaching corner bracket to drum lug hardware. Note 17mm was the right length to cover two bonded washers and the corner brace. Original screws were only 7mm. Annoyingly HD sells these in 3-screws-per-pack instead of 4 per pack. I'm easily annoyed. ($0.80 per drum)
    (8) bonded sealing washers (two 4 packs @ $0.58 each, so $1.16 per drum)
    (4) #10 x 32 x 1 1/4" machine screws (bought 100 count box so $0.063 each, so $0.38 per drum)
    (8) 10 x 32 locknuts (bought 100 count box with price mistake in my favor at $0.01 each, so $0.08 per drum)
    (18) 10 x 32 washers (another 100 count box at $0.035 each, $0.63 per drum)
    (1) 4" Metal gang cover. Forgot to buy at HD, so Ace it was. ($1.29 for 4" steel square gang cover at Ace, the only thing they had that would seem to work)
    (2) 10 x 32 Rubber expansion nuts and washers. (rubber expansions are $0.58 each at HD, $0.80 at Ace, so max $1.60 drum which is what I based my cash totals in this thread on)
    (2) layers of 3M 1" double-sided sticky tape cut to ceramic size, used to stick piezo to gang cover (didn't compute this)
    (3) 1/2" layers of Poron foam cut to cone shape (sheet of Poron is $17, theoretically you should be able to get 21+ triggers per sheet. But I suck so I figured 6 per sheet in my cash totals. But that's probably very, very conservative.)
    (1) Neutrik long 1/4" stereo jack $1.89 each
    Wire it to 1/4" jack (you'll need wire, maybe heat shrink, flux, solder, yadda yadda)
    Ideally adjust C-channel (via series of locking washers) so foam cone is 1/16" over top edge of rim using straight edge

    Once I'm all done with the project I'll likely go back and better document everything with part numbers. In particular I found the bonded washers and expansion nuts hard to find.


    • #3
      Looks cool, nice work there. I would have kept the blue one though as theres something about red drum sets for me (personal tastes) and I hope you plan on turning your bass drum around the right way...
      My Kit


      • #4
        Actually I was experimenting with the drum to decide which way I prefer it. I do realize it's built to be orientated the other way than in the first picture. However, note I'm not a drummer. I never owned drums before. My first kit was the S&S kit which is tiny and compact thanks to the rack. Everything is practically in my lap. When I first sat at the acoustic kit the 2 toms seems extremely far away. I really had to stretch to reach them. By rotating the bass it places the toms much closer.

        I see no physical reason I can't run it either way. In fact, I suppose I could mount a trigger on BOTH ends of the bass that way I could just re-mount the mesh head, rotate the bass, and play it any which way I want.

        If there's some extremely specific reason you should never NEVER EVER play the bass drum the opposite way please let me know. But I don't see one. But I'm always game for some education.


        • #5
          Very nice Gastric! Great post.
          I can't wait to see how the whole project progresses!

          Sabre's Album


          • #6
            Absolutely, you can set the things up any way you chose, there your drums. The only problem I can see is stability due to the position of the legs being to far back. You could always move them I guess. Have you considered cutting them down at all to reduce the depth and make them more compact. I have cut a tom down and routed a new bearing edge on it and replaced the hardware. The bearing edge doesn't matter with e'drums you could just sand it smooth, I really like the look of the short drums too. Once again personal taste which is what DIY is all about...
            My Kit


            • #7
              My kick trigger plate. Was just going to stick the piezo to the corner brace like JMan's KISS design but I only have static non-adjustable L's and it didn't push the cone to the head far enough. So I drilled out an extra gang cover I had in my toolbox and found that if I stuck a bonded washer between the plate and corner L it positioned the cone exactly to the bearing edge as it should be. Completed the install with a bonded washer sandwich for no real reason other than I used one as a spacer and figured I'd sandwich them in there. Can't hurt and could help negate tom-to-kick crosstalk since the toms will be mounted to the bass.

              With a piezo and cone sitting on it. Not adhered or wired.

              Shot showing the bonded washer sandwich.

              The reason I'd like to name this THE ENTERPRISE!!! Reminds me of Star Trek with the disc flying out front and center above the neck/corner brace.


              • #8
                I'm going to do my first bass install with the drum in reverse. 2 screws and moving the head and I can flop it back the way it was intended. The kick feet swivel in every direction so they can still be positioned properly. They'll just be joined to the bass towards the batter side of the drum instead of the resonant side like they normally are, but the feet can still point away from the pedal to keep the drum from walking. Eh, what do I know!?

                As far as cutting them, I didn't plan to cut this kit at all. Only becuase I already have an asswad of labor involved and to be honest I just want to take baby steps. Install hardware. Install piezo. Install mesh head. Work out the kinks. Start on cymbals. And when it's all done I can think about what to do with the next kit.

                Ideally I think I'd prefer a cut-down kit mounted to a nice rack. But once I have a "normal" sized acoustic conversion next to the S&S wich is about as small as you can get I can make my decision.

                The reality is as long as I don't mangle the cheap-O acoustics I can remove the electronic part and nobody would be the wiser and I can resell them. The only mangling I've done thus far is pulling out the sound hole grommets. Wasn't any way I could remove them and save them for reuse. I doubt any prospective buyer of a cheap entry level kit would even notice anyway.

                But anyway I could stick the triggers into any other drums. At most I'd have to re-make the aluminum c-channels to accomodate different sized drums.

                These happen to be 12 x 13 x 16 toms, 14 metal snare, and 22 bass.


                • #9
                  Used up all of my available piezos today and had fun soldering. Certainly a job that is easier if you have the correct tools. The head on my iron needs replacement or proper care, and I broke my little heat sinking clamps which makes soldering bare wire leads together difficult. All part of the fun. One of those extendable arm desk lamps with magnifying lense would certainly make soldering easier as well.

                  Anyway, I'm done with the drums for now. Tomorrow the Hart mesh heads arrive. Then I can start tweaking with the Alesis DM4.

                  I realize that once the heads are on you won't really be able to see the electronics and wiring. But now that I'm mostly done I do wish I'd done the following:

                  1. Aligned the crossbars so they are mounted as close to the jack as possible. Purely to route the wiring nice and neat down the c-channel and right to the jack. Would look cleaner. And there's no reason I can't just unscrew the 4 lug screws holding the cross bars in and move the other than possibly have to cut and resolder some wires.
                  2. Used braided wire instead of the solid-core wire I chose. Which I chose purely because it was the cheapest 2-pair wire I could find. Solid core wire isn't as flexible which makes routing it around things a little more difficult. Though it makes bending it around things and it holding it's shape/memory a lot easier.
                  3. Thought out my wiring scheme better. Again, purely to achieve the most nice-and-tidy look possible.
                  4. Measured the resulting cone height before I finished all the drums. As previously stated the 1 1/2" 10-32 screws are a little too short on my toms so the absolute minimum cone contact is just about 1/8", but certainly I can't make it less without swapping the screws for longer ones. And on the snare I had the opposite problem. The top of the corner braces are 1 3/16" from the bearing edge and I had to raise the bar as far up as I could go to get a mere 3/16" of head contact.

                  Drums awaiting heads.

                  Snare. Note there's only 2 rim piezos as I ran out.

                  Snare wiring. Pre-wired the jack for the second pair of rim piezos for when they arrive.

                  Tom 1.

                  Tom 2 with single rim piezo likely mounted wayyy too far from the rim. My test tom to see if I can successfuly set all the toms for dual-triggering so I can use the rims for xtra sounds.

                  Tom 3.


                  Last edited by Gastric; 06-15-08, 09:54 PM.


                  • #10
                    Awesome Gastric! Parts list is extremely helpful! I wasted an hour or so wandering HD myself. I plan on using poplar wood for the cross members. Not sure if metal is better but wood is definitely easier to work with. I especially like your kick trigger design. I was planning on picking up a ddrum redshot kick trigger but like your design better.

                    As far as cone heights, any harm in cutting the cone down?

                    Keep posting progress!!! Thanks in the present and future!


                    • #11
                      Also meant to ask, where did you find $0.50USD piezos?


                      • #12
                        Interesting DIY - especially since quite a few people have said metal snares don't work too well.
                        . digitalDrummer
                        Review index


                        • #13
                          Rocky_Roll - $0.50 piezos from eBay. Note they're in cases so need to be shucked and are 40mm total size. So they won't fit in tiny project boxes, you'll need to use the Radio Shack ones to accommodate their width.

                          As far as cutting the cones? Probably not. But my jig provides cones 1 1/2" high with a table (tip diameter) of about 7mm or so. Similar to the Roland cones. Simply cutting the top would provide a larger table which may or may not be good. I honestly don't know from experience since all I have is what you see, no heads or actual usage yet. But forum posts indicate that larger table size on the cones increases hotspotting and potentially affects Roland PD, assuming you're using a Roland module that supports that. Note that even though I used a jig not ALL of my cones are 100% identical. For example, look at the kick cone and you'll see it has a much larger table of about 10mm instead of 7mm. Practically speaking it's hard to get the cone columns in the jig 100% the same. Heh, at least with MY jig. Also, cutting Poron foam isn't that easy because it's so soft and mailable. I'm not sure how I would cut the tip down accurately and provide a flat table. Much easier to buy 4 longer screws, remove the current ones, and install the longer ones. Couple minutes of work tops.

                          allanjohn - My kits came with metal 14 snares. I didn't feel like cutting drums yet so I simply proceeded blindly. Well, not completely blindly. I did some searching on metal snares. I saw posts that indicated metal wouldn't work, others that said they did (I thought by JMan). I don't have heads installed yet but if I whack the rim (which is sitting loosely on the shell) it triggers all around, even with only 2 rim piezos installed on the same side of the shell.

                          Note I'll be using the Alesis D4 (all single trigger inputs) and an Alesis Trigger I/O (arrives later this week) for my module. From my research to date it seems that the Roland modules are the most feature rich when it comes to the snare and I'm assuming would be the most picky due to the way they implement rim shots/clicks and positional detection on that drum. The Alesis modules are extremely simplistic in that regard. Though it has 10 dual trigger inputs they're really just 20 single trigger inputs provided via TRS jacks. It's as dumb as the D4 in that regard and you have to control seperation with XTALK settings. So, in conclusion as long as the head triggers and the rim triggers you separate the two with XTALK parameters to eliminate false triggering and you now have rimshots. But no fancy stick clicks (need yet another trigger assigned purely for stick click sounds, hence dual-triggering all my toms for extra sounds via rims) or PD like with the Roland modules.

                          Note this is all in theory based on my online research. I have no practical experience or implementation yet.

                          Note that NOTHING I've done here is of my own invention. At least none of the GOOD stuff. The bad wiring and stuff, yes, I can take all of THAT credit! haha! All of my implementation and design decisions came directly from this specific forum, or via links to external sites that I found in this specific forum. In particular all of JMan's posts for A-to-E are the creme de la creme (where I got the concept of the KISS simple near-rim kick design from). Boogie's jig was a stroke of genius and I recommend you use one if you're making your own cones, it's a real time saver and makes good looking cones your Mom and other DYI'ers will be proud of. Hellfire has a ton of highly technical offerings and I really enjoy his stuff a ton. Seriously, he's got some great stuff that interestingly doesn't seem to get a lot of discussion here for some reason.
                          Last edited by Gastric; 06-16-08, 09:11 AM.


                          • #14
                            Heads arrived. They definitely require a LOT of tension to eliminate double-triggering from the heads slapping back as others have said. Not that this is necessarily a problem. But you keep waiting for them to explode.

                            With the Hart heads anyway you can easily see the hardware and electronics through the mesh. Makes me wish I'd have planned the hardware and wiring locations better as I previously said.

                            Cymbals should be done by the weekend which will be the grande finale of my pictures and run-on typing. Awwww.

                            In general I plugged them in after installing the heads and was immediately satisfied. It's a pleasure playing on the man-sized heads VS the tiny S&S kit, and the triggering is much more detailed and subtle compared to the S&S.

                            Snare and separate snare rims seem to trigger without issue though I haven't connected them at the same time due to no TRS cables yet. But I don't expect any more crosstalk/XTALK issues than the S&S has. Also, I was able to DECREASE the XTALK on the toms significantly even though they're mounted directly to the bass drum.

                            KIT FAR FLASH

                            KIT FAR NO FLASH

                            KIT CLOSE FLASH

                            KIT CLOSE NO FLASH


                            • #15
                              Looks great!! Nice job on keeping the costs down, too. I'm so anxious to get my kit finished and start playing with triggering and tweaking the parameters on the Trigger IO box.

                              Gear: TD-12 module, CY-14C crash, Yamaha PCY-135 crash, CY-12R/C crash, CY-15R/C ride, CY-12C & FD-7 hi-hat setup, MDS-12 rack, PD-125 snare, PD-85 rack toms, PD-105 floor tom, Presonus FP10, MacBook Pro 13", Superior Drummer 2.3, Logic 9 Studio, JH Audio JH-5 Pro IEM, Sennheiser HD-280 Pro cans, Gretsch Renown maple acoustic kit (Zildjian cymbals, Remo heads, Gibraltar/DW hardware)