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DIY Hi Hat Controller Options

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  • DIY Hi Hat Controller Options

    As part of my conversion project I'll need to build a HH controller. I thought it might be helpful to consolidate some of the information. Below you will find descriptions and links to the various types of builds that I've found. In subsequent posts I'd like opinions on which methods have proven themselves to be the best.

    Continuously Variable HH control applications:

    1. Roland FD-7 / FD-8 hi-hat stand conversions (JmanWord, www,
    a.) FD-7 build
    b.) FD-8 build

    2. FSR based
    a.) Between hats or In Pedal (Sylv1co, Perceval)
    b.) Hellfire concept (Helfire)

    3. Potentiometer based
    a.) Slide Pot (Poko Askew)
    b.) Soft Pot (Poko Askew)
    c.) Rotary pot designs (Hellfire, r0bbie)

    5. Hall effect sensor based
    a.) Wazza design, Megadrum only? (wazza187)
    b.) Clean, single hat, Megadrum design (Everson) Buried in another thread

    6. Optical sensor based
    a.) Optical HH control concept thread (jman 31, others)
    b.) Optical Internal HH control (Racer52 design based on Poko Askew, Megadrum, and others) Never proven to work with Roland modules?

    Non Variable (switch type) HH control applications

    1. Momentary switch type (paradisephoto, jman 31, Hellfire)

    2. Magnetic switch type (theflash0000)
    Last edited by bwilburn79; 05-18-15, 11:32 AM. Reason: Fix broken links
    Roland TD12 module / DIY Kit in progress, Gretsch Blackhawk A (soon to be E) kit.

  • #2
    If there are other methods / links that I should include in the OP please let me know. I'd really appreciate opinions on which of these methods offers the best performance, longevity, and build quality. Which method makes the most sense for (insert your favorite brand) module owners today?
    Last edited by bwilburn79; 03-05-14, 10:50 AM.
    Roland TD12 module / DIY Kit in progress, Gretsch Blackhawk A (soon to be E) kit.


    • #3
      I'm currently using a Roland TD-12 module in my setup. I'm planning to convert 14" Sabian B8 hats with an A to EZ kit from I'd like to build a controller that will give me VH-12 functionality. I'm tempted to go with the Roland FD-7 build, even using the PDP HH820 stand that JmanWord recommends, because he's proven it to work well with his systems. However, that would add $130+ to the build for me to acquire the stand and pedal. I'm equally tempted to implement the FSR approach because it would be less expensive and apparently works very well. I hesitate because I haven't seen a build that has a finalized look and because I'd have to figure out how to incorporate the FSR with the A to EZ kit. I'd appreciate any advice, or links to FSR based builds or pictures that I might have missed.
      Roland TD12 module / DIY Kit in progress, Gretsch Blackhawk A (soon to be E) kit.


      • #4
        I still use my FSR HH controller. It still works so well, I have no desire to try something else.
        Unfortunately, it is still only a wooden plate, so not much to look at. Maybe one day... but I'm keeping busy with so many projects at a time these days that I enjoy just playing my drums for relaxation and fun.

        Good luck!
        Building with an FSR is pretty much straight forward... not much to it, and you can add your own "flair" to the build and make it look nicer.
        DTX700, A2E Dixon kit, Yamaha cymbals, FSR HH Kit Pix

        My new venture:


        • perceval
          perceval commented
          Editing a comment
          Been more than 7 months! I had to go back to the thread to see 2011... hasn't missed a beat since then. Had it going with my cheap edrum module, then the Yamaha.

          Yes, I still have my dtx700, a pcy-135 for HH but the FSR is under my HH pedal, not under the cymbal. I tried and did feel there was any advantages in having the FSR under the top HH. Under the foot pedal works very well, and cleans up the number of wires needing to go to the HH.

        • bwilburn79
          bwilburn79 commented
          Editing a comment
          Sorry, I was going by the last post from 8/30/13 where you had settled on a final layering for the foam. I missed the part where you moved the FSR assembly from under the hat to under the foot pedal.

        • Sylv1co
          Sylv1co commented
          Editing a comment
          Mine also works like a charm after about two years of regular use, and my FSR has a hole in its middle.

      • #5
        Thanks for updating the links Brian. I thought this thread would make a good Sticky. J

        I could tell you where to stick that piezo! ;) Mega Kit: Powered by the TD-50 and 2ea. 2Box modules, drums and cymbals too many to count. VST quality sounds loaded into and played directly from the 2Box modules. Visit me anytime at:


        • #6
          Looks like I'm in on the FSR HH controller. So, if using my acoustic hats, I still need a trigger from the TD10 - HiHat input?
          Yamaha Absolute Birch;Yamaha Oak Custom
          Paiste Cymbals; Zildjian Hybrid Cymbals
          DIY vdrums


          • #7
            This is an awesome group of designs, thanks for sharing! I will definitely have to attempt one of these at some point when I set up my trigger I/O. As of right now I use a DM4 as a module, and only have need for my trusty home-spun momentary switch pedal.

            The rotary pot designs look like they might be the cheapest/easiest to build and implement. What's your preference?
            I also screen print snarky t-shirts! You should buy one for a cynic in your life.


            • #8
              Using a FSR under my HH pedal with two different foam sponges on top (high and medium density). Wired a mono jack to the leads and plugged into my Roland TD-8. Worked on the first time without any additional configuration. Amazing.
              I used the 1.75" FSR from Sparkfun and a mono jack I had laying around. For a total of about $8 plus 20 minutes of my time, I have a nicely working VH-11-type of hi hat controller working with one cable coming out under my HH pedal. Amazing guys, amazing. Whoever thought of using the FSR for a HH controller is a genius, thank you!



              • #9
                You know I came up with an idea for an even better HH controller last night whilst prodding some of my electronics pile - I bought myself a few Nintendo Powerglove bend sensors a few months back for kicks and giggles for my arduino projects... If you put a bend sensor between the 2 HH's, fixing it to the bottom and having a small channel for the sensor to glide against the top cymbal without moving side to side, then add a few resisors to tweak the output then it could act as the variable resistor to send the variable HH position to the module, and it would be 100% accurate for the actual physical positioning of the HH's!


                After I have finished my current Visulite internal HH controller I'll try this one out!
                Last edited by Myrk-; 01-13-16, 02:10 AM.


                • #10
                  That's because that "flex sensor " is basically a FSR
                  DTX700, A2E Dixon kit, Yamaha cymbals, FSR HH Kit Pix

                  My new venture:


                  • #11
                    Thank you to everybody, today I have followed your instructions, I've used a small 0,7 inches FSR and an old hi hat, two pieces of foam with my Roland TD-1KV and it works PERFECT. If I connect it to my mac with EZ-Drummer is simply amazing. Thank you again, now I only need to learn how to play the drums.


                    • #12
                      Great! Enjoy!
                      DTX700, A2E Dixon kit, Yamaha cymbals, FSR HH Kit Pix

                      My new venture: