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Drum Controller Parts Harvesting

Fun & Games
Drum Controller Parts Harvesting

Today’s dumpscore included a Guitar Hero drum controller. I don’t have any use for it as a controller, but I’ve been curious what’s inside this type of device. There were also about a half-dozen guitar controllers for various game systems, but I wasn’t as interested in those.

When I got home, I cleared off the table and grabbed a screwdriver. A half hour later, I had a nice neat pile of the electronic parts, and the rest of it was in the recycle bin. There was some neat telescoping tube in the stand, but I don’t have an immediate use for that, and don’t have enough of it to bother storing for future use.

In the game controller, I confirmed my suspicion that there would be some piezo elements. These are neat devices that generate an electric signal when are bumped or deformed. They are also capable of making a sound when a pulse of electricity is sent to them.

As speakers, piezos are used in lots of things, including many smoke alarms, newer computer modems, motherboards, and things that go “chirp.” My guess is that there’s one in my car’s alarm. They’re made of metal, so don’t degrade as easily as a paper speaker membrane.

Piezos are also used to gather vibration signals, and can be found in some guitar pickups. In the Cigar Box Guitar article in MAKE Volume 04 a piezo is used as a pickup. The sensor in the Secret Knock Gumball Machine from MAKE Volume 25 is also a piezo.

Some will likely take offense at my shredding what may have been a usable game controller, but I did see that the snare wires were broken. One set of wires was frayed, and the other had a broken plug. This is probably the reason it ended up at the dump. If I were interested in fixing it, the repair would have been fairly easy with a new length of wire for one and a plug for the other.

One other feature of this parts harvest is that I was careful to remove each piece with as little permanent damage as possible. Rather than cutting and breaking things apart, I pulled the connectors and passed the wires out of the tubes or untaped them. It would be possible to reconstruct this drum kit on a new stand, and it could work just fine. The only thing that I really destroyed was cutting the rubber holders that attached the three drum pads to their bases. I was a little pressed for time, and had the whole decommissioning process complete within a half hour.

In my recent Arduino experimentation, I’ve been messing around with piezos as a sound output device, and have gotten it to play some recognizable tunes and tones. How would you use the guts of a drum kit? Have you done successful (or not) experiments with piezo elements? Have you built a new drum set out of the components that I found in this one? Post up in the comments and let us know!


14 thoughts on “Drum Controller Parts Harvesting

  1. beben sad says:

    ben bu filmi izlemedim bile nasıl olmuşta ödül vermişler böyle bir filme kiporno

  2. dsa says:

    Great disassembly, a close up of the controller board would have been nice though, it seems like we can distinguish a Microchip…maybe two, but the marking can’t be read from the photographs

    1. Chris Connors says:

      I took a few more pictures and changed the licensing on the whole set. You should be able to get a decent sized clear view of both sides of each board.

      Thanks for the suggestion. Here is a link to the set:

      1. dsa says:

        Thanks a lot.
        The Nexus one takes good pictures but those Canon pics are definitely better.
        Two HA1504 and one HA1500 from Microchip…seems like custom made chips.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I didn’t use scavenged piezo’s (though I did use a scavenged guitar hero controller) but I did build a custom drum controller with Radio Shack-bought piezos:

  4. Scozza says:

    I scored one of these today for the princely sum of $1. I think I’ll try to revive it & see if anyone at our MakerSpace has a copy of GH!


  5. kyle w says:

    ive got a project in mind and i have a drum controler ready for harvesting, my idea is a Nerf gun target or target system using one or multiple pads that register as different point scores.

    this brings me out of my electronics depth if im honest because…
    1. ive never used these pads before
    2. to make the pads easy to use id think of using infared-LED’s and a reciver?

    would there be something you could create based on this? which is ‘noobie’ friendly to do?
    or perhaps something sound based as these also create sound?

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