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Inside the hihat variable switch

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  • Inside the hihat variable switch

    This is buried in my lengthy DIY thread and thought I'd post it here as a separate topic. With the exception of proposing some new slang "schucking piezos" none of my other thoughts that popped in my head while completing my DIY were seemingly unique. But I found no other threads similar to this so I'm shooting for fame and fortune with this one!

    I couldn't come up with a clever catchy nickname for this. But it's simply a method for providing a DIY variable hihat by hiding the switch between the physical hihat cymbals. The end result is a full variable hihat just like you'd get with any other method using a sliding/rotating pot. But unlike the typical Beatnik project there's no project box, springs, or picture hanging wire required. So to that end it's cheaper as all you need is a $2k slider and spare metal to fashion the brackets.

    Built and tested with the following:

    * Crappy cheap-O Groove Percussion hihat stand
    * Crappy cheap-O Groove Percussion 14" hihat cymbal pair
    * Mouser 25k 30mm sliding pot part # 312-9100-25K
    * Hand-built slider mounting bracket. Metal bracket bent and drilled to position the slider perpendicular as best as possible to the hihat plunger pole. Has to be bent back a bit to do this since you're screwing it to a concave hihat cymbal.
    * Hand-built top hihat cymbal connecting bracket. Connects the top hihat movement to the slider actuating arm. Simple L-shaped bracket drilled for the top hat nut to pass through, and smaller holes to link to the sliding pot actuating arm.
    * Brass wire twisted together to bind/link the connecting bracket to the slider arm.
    * 3" expansion spring to provide a snappier hihat return as the Groove Percussion stand had absolutely no adjustability in that regard. Unsure if other stands do or not but the Groove Percussion stand was laggy and slow to push the top hat fully opened. Now it's snappy as can be. Pow! It's open. Zappity! Open. Kabam! Open.
    * Alesis Trigger IO - cymbal piezo connected to input #3, slider connected to the hihat footpedal input
    * Semi-related I've posted some other technical findings about the Trigger IO as it pertains specifically to the variable hihat here: http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group...IO/message/109

    As built and tested it provides full CC#4 = 0-127 articulation. Note that the Trigger IO uses CC#4 = 0 for full open, and CC#4 = 127 for full closed which I believe is ass backwards. But of course works fine with the included BFD LITE (and probably other BFD versions).

    It's not pretty to look at due to my hand-built metal parts. I'm certainly no shopsmith. Parts were culled from my collection of random extra parts I have collected over the years from other projects, mostly as a homeowner. I think both were likely included with window blinds or something.

    Onto the photos and my descriptions.

    Closeup of my Franken-build. Shows the slider mounted to the bottom hat with the custom bracket, and the top bracket that connects the top hat to the slider. The various holes drilled in the top-hat bracket were to accommodate me finding the optimal position for the top-hat bracket to physically connect to the slider. Optimal position is to allow the hat to physically close all the way and reach CC#4=127 for fully closed. Setting the linkage wrong means you hit CC#4=127 before the hats physically close, or don't reach it at all. Linkage for the bracket and slider was done with some copper wire twisted tightly for a slackless linkage. I couldn't figure out some better linkage device though a small nut-and-bolt would work. Maybe a clevis bolt/pin combo. I'm sure there's something more elegant and professional looking but it works. Numbers 15 and 20 on the side of the slider indicate the Alesis Trigger IO XTALK value and where each value sets CC#4=127 for fully opened. Adjusting the XTALK value allows you to constrict the total hihat open/closed travel from 17-27mm based on my crude measurements.

    Note you have to remember to put the retaining nut for the top hat on before you link the bracket to the slider arm. This is what physically holds the top bracket to the top hat. It gets sandwiched between the nut and felt washer. Again, the 3" spring pictured is just to force my hats open faster and has no bearing on the overall variable hihat function at all.

    My piezo hard-wired to the jack in my bottom hat. Mildly annoying as due to the wire length I chose I have to remove the jack from the bottom hat whenever I take the top hat completely off. I'm sure there's a variety of remedies, namely not hard-wiring the piezo to the jack and using some quick-disconect in between. Which I'll probably never do.

    All put together. No project box. No picture hanging wire. All hidden inside the hats. All you see is another cable connected to another jack on the bottom of the hats. Note to get the top hat onto the stand is a pain in the ass. You have to squeeze one meaty paw between the two cymbals and hold onto the bottom nut while threading top retaining bolt on. The gap between the two cymbals is small since you've now physically linked the top hat to the slider.

    I welcome your comments, thoughts, criticism. Whatever you got I can take it.

    UPDATE 12/29/08
    My web host mysteriously lost all of my original photos, in addition to most of my edrum photos in general. Here's a few photos of my inside-the-hats slider implementation I've been using for a few months now.

    Top hat bracket, with multi-hole plate glued on. Multi-holes gives you a variety of positions to link the top hat to the slider. My simplistic workaround to a truly adjustable linkage.

    Side view of the slider mounted to the bottom bracket.

    Front view of the slider mounted to the bottom bracket.

    To connect the slider to the top bracket, I just tip the bottom hat slightly, which pitches the slider back and out of the way, move the slider arm to the top, lower the bottom hat, line up the slider arm with the appropriate hole, then tip the bottom hat back into position which inserts the slider arm fully into the hole.

    Some issues I've encountered.

    * The Trigger IO often freaks out when the slider moves past the lower bounds. What I mean is, once the Trigger IO calculates the pedal is fully closed if the pedal moves lower than that boundary the Trigger IO generates some wierd pedal output. I'm assuming this is a Trigger IO oddity.
    * My entire hat spins slightly on the stand. I can't get the damn hats to lock onto the stand plunger so they rotate about 180 degrees over time. It's annoying.
    * Very rarely the slider pops out of the top hat bracket. My original design used some twisted solid core copper wire as a poor mans cotter pin type lock to keep that from happening. But it negated the ability to re-position the slider in the holes so I deal with the slider arm popping out once in a while.
    * The entire thing continues to work, nothing has failed or broken. Though admittedly I barely play my drums still. So maybe 10 hours of use tops.
    * I haven't actually decided if this is functionally any better than a standard Beatnik type box mount and cable. Though I really dislike the idea of cables and springs from a longevity aspect.
    * The main disadvantage to this method is you're limited in repositioning the hats in relation to the pedal with precision, you're limited to where the top hat bracket has holes. Move it to one hole and the hats may close before the pedal gets to fully closed position. The next hole down may let the hats close slightly after the pedal is fully closed. There's no real way to set it with absolute precision, though that may not matter depending on your VSTi chosen (BFD has full control over the CC values used for all transitions, S2 has none, AD has none since it doesn't use CC at all, etc.).

    Pros and cons to everything. I'd think the real value to this method of linking the slider to the top hat movement instead of the pedal movement is that the slider is completely hidden, and that you have the ability to move the top hat via the clutch and have it impose physical limits to the maximum openness of the pedal performance due to limiting the slider movement via limiting top hat movement. It's unique in that aspect I think.
    Last edited by Gastric; 12-29-08, 04:45 PM.

  • #2
    A $2k slider?! damn, that's seriously expensive!!!
    Stick twirling - because you obviously have mastered all other aspects of drumming already, right?


    • #3
      How cheap do you get YOURS? Only $1k?


      • #4
        A lot of good info! Thanks for sharing Gastric. Are you able to get the hi-hats to close 100%? It's hard to tell from you pictures if all of part fit between the two bells of the hi-hat when closed.


        • #5
          Yup, they fully close. That's why I have so many holes drilled in the metal L-bracket that attaches to the top hat. Lets me vary adjust that linkage/connection so the hats can fully close and still hit the bottom range of the switch. And the switch itself fits between the 2 bells of the hats without touching the top hat cymbal.

          You set the bracket-to-slider connection based on the hats being fully closed and the switch being pushed down far enough to bottom out your CC#4. Then set the full open by pulling the top hat up and torquing down the top hat set screw. I actually set my top hat a hair higher to ensure that it goes full open and stays there. I find that if I set it RIGHT at full open then sometimes the switch crawls back and forth between CC#4=0 and 3 periodically. Now that I typed that I might be able to fix that particular crawl with some Trigger IO RETRIGGER settings as I doubt the switch itself is truly moving. With the Trigger IO set to XTALK=20 for the hihat I have 10mm+ of unused slack travel at the top end of the switch to let the hat cymbal physically travel past full open on the switch.


          • #6
            Dude. Now you have to go and post this? I'm trying to get a snare kicked off (my 1st DIY) and you are dragging and pulling me 5 steps beyond that. Cool! Thanks for breaking it out.
            Yamaha Birch Custom Absolute | Zildjian Ks


            • #7
              Awesome build!

              I would only recommend using a quick disconnect plug for the wires the connect the top hi-hat and the bottom so they're not so awkwardly attached to each other.


              • #8
                Does anyone have any suggestions for improvement on this to provide a solid but more easily adjustable linkage between the slider and top hat bracket? Currently when I press my pedal all the way closed it's only hitting CC#4=2-4. I hit 0 by pressing really hard. This causes some issues for VSTi that requires absolute 0 for foot chick and tight closed sounds. I can easily correct this using Edrum Monitor but I'd prefer to just quickly and easily adjust the linkage. In all seriousness it's not that much effort to pop the top hat and do it with a twist of wire as pictured. But it'd be easier with some super quick and adjustable pin/bolt/something.


                • #9
                  One thing I never considered until tonight. With the slider implemented like this you can totally adjust the top hat just like a real acoustic set. If you prefer your hats to be almost closed with the pedal fully opened you can totally drop the top hat, and since the switch is connected to it, dropping the hat closes the switch. Thus you get that nearly closed sound, then a fully closed when pressing the pedal, and never a full open unless you raise the top hat again. I'm not a drummer so I'd never considered or tested that. The VSTi would provide a full range of open/closed sounds so logically I assumed I wanted my hat do provide that full range. Anyway, I tried it and it worked perfectly. You learn or discover something new everyday with this stuff. So many variables between the trigger, module, and VSTi.

                  I'm unsure how you would accomplish that same thing with a Beatnik box connected to the pedal via wire. I guess just shorten the wire so the switch is pulled down more? But that's certainly not as quickly and easily adjusted and not likely practical.

                  Again, my only dislike about this method is the linkage between the slider and top hat. I just haven't cracked the case on a better way.


                  • #10
                    Hey, I like this design!

                    I'm just wondering, with the spring there that you claim is not necessary, is there any reason the whole thing has to be connected to the top at all? Couldn't the top just push down on it, and the spring push back up?

                    (EDIT: of course, you'd have to have some sort of collar so it stayed centered around the plunger pole...)
                    Last edited by stevewahl; 08-12-08, 02:27 PM.


                    • #11
                      I'm about to complete another DIY and have been thinking of a better way to construct this overall.

                      I did originally consider a spring to return the slider to the top, but you still have to construct some manner to get the slider to go down with the hihat. So I linked the slider to the top hat and it actuates in in both directions. Solves the travel issue in both directions. The only real "problem" is it's a PITA to get the top hat on/off the stand since it's now directly linked to a tiny little slider. There's simply not much of a gap between the cymbals to stick your hand in there to thread the bottom nut onto the top hat.

                      So some way to provide the linkage in an easy connect/disconnect manner would be a huge improvement in that regard. It's simply an ease-of-use issue. Who takes their top hats on/off all the time anyway? I never did. But when I sold my kit I had to tell the buyer "you cant take the hats off the stand" as I couldn't expect him to be able to take it apart and put it back together easily. Not to mention it exposes the unattractive craftsmanship of my hammered-metal-and-twisted-wire contraption.

                      I think a better design would be a self-contained, drop-in module that would drop down over the plunger rod, and require nothing to be screwed down at all. Not to the bottom hat, and most importantly not to the top hat. The plunger rod would keep the module in place. And here's about where my abilities to engineer come to a slow down. Make that a screetching halt.

                      Anyway, along that line of thought is something comprised of two small plates. A centered hole in both to let it go over the plunger. A spring to return the top plate up when you release the pedal. A linkage from the top plate to the slider arm. Basically what I currently have, but instead of connecting the works to the top hat just have an additional plate in there that the top hat would press against. That way the top hat can come on/off like normal. But the top hat still actuates it for closing, and even though there's spring pressure on the up movement the top hat would prevent it from traveling past the top hat. So you still get direct slider actuation to the top hat movement. Here's a rough sketch.

                      One thing I don't like about using a spring is it's trial-and-error to find the one with the right force. Too loose and the slider doesn't move up fast enough with the pedal, or worse not at all or not far enough to full open. It's generally annoying. So directly linking it to the top hat like I have it provides a 100% direct relationship between the actual hat movement and the slider movement every time. No lag, slippage, whatever.

                      So in the end I think a simpler solution is improving the linkage. Something that can mount to the top hat like I currently have. But "click" onto the slider arm. And then disconnect easily. Then you can put the linking device on the top hat like I have it (compresses under the nut) but if it was easy to disconnect you could easily take the top hat on/off. But to make it truly easy it'd need an external button to un-click the linkage. Or minimally a super easy latch or something you could press with a pen by sticking it in between the hats. Again, here's where my engineering stops. I can't conceive of some device that will quickly and easily connect/disconnect the linkage and still prove a slop-free connection.

                      I also thought of attaching the slider arm to the plunger. But that seemed to significantly limit your ability to adjust your hat positions on the stand up/down so I nixed that idea. I kept coming back to linking it to the top hat. And I always wanted the slider physically at the bottom since that's where the wiring jacks were, and the bottom hat sits stationary so you're not pulling your electronics out everytime you take the top hat off.

                      So here's where I keep hoping someone else can throw in their thoughts on how to solve the problem with the permanent linkage as I originally designed it.


                      • #12
                        I think this is a great little design Gastric, I will be trying to do something similar when I do my conversion. We can only get 50k sliders in the UK will this work in the same way? I dont really understand the electrical side of things I just like "a dummies guide to an electric high hat conversion" hehe


                        • #13

                          sorry there is no english translation but pics are explicit

                          and a quick video test to show the footchick and foot splash work

                          (sorry for the double post in the other thread)

                          td-10 expanded, tmc-6, diy kit in progress since a lot of time!!!!:(


                          • #14
                            tazinnuedo - nice bit of engineering and construction. Way to complicated for me, personally, but interesting for sure! It's hard to tell from the pictures alone what pushes the switch to the closed position, but apparently the spring-and-plate is what returns it to open.


                            • #15
                              the pvc pipe pushes down the switch, the switch is inserted in the little hole in the pvc pipe, so when you press the pedal,the top cymbal (or the tilter like the video) pushes down the pvc pipe,so the switch...

                              td-10 expanded, tmc-6, diy kit in progress since a lot of time!!!!:(