Beat It!

Robotic Drumming System


Member profile details

Membership level
2020-2021 Team
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Team Name
Beat It!
Project Title
Robotic Drumming System
Design Challenge
There is a need for a user-controlled robotic drumming system that can physically drum on a variety of percussion instruments to produce realistic drumming sounds. There are multiple applications for this technology, including: 1) Performance assistance, 2) teaching aids, 3) Cheaper alternatives to music production, and other less known niches such as 4) Therapeutic applications. Current robotic drummers struggle to replicate human-held drumstick sound due to their rigid drumstick actuation method, and are not easily adaptable to multiple percussive instruments. Thus, formally, our design challenge is to produce and implement an effective automated method of reproducing realistic drum sound and rhythmic patterns.
Design Summary
In order to solve our challenge, Team Beat It! built a robotic drumming system consisting of two drumsticks actuated by separate DC motors, which receive user or MIDI input signals to control coordinated drum strike patterns.

A physically detached frame holds the system electronics (motors, wires, power supply, servo amplifier) and the drumsticks used to strike the drum. For testing, we optimized our system for snare drum performance, using a snare drum on a height-adjustable stand. In order to hold our drumsticks, we are using a 3D printed ring clamp attached to our motor. The printed ring is attached to our motor and has an adjustable clamp to allow for tighter grip on the drumstick when necessary.

To command the robodrum, the user may select a drum technique demonstration (such as a steady bounce or double-bounce strike), customize their own drum strike pattern, or choose a MIDI music file on a software GUI. Based on user input, the computer will send a corresponding drum strike trajectory to a Metro M4 Digital GPIO board, which actuates the motor accordingly using control feedback from motor rotary encoders. Our control algorithm allows for consistent drum strikes while incorporating drumstick bounce, to mimic human technique and create a more resonant sound.

Contact us

Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen
Rice University

6100 Main Street MS 390 | Houston, Texas | 77005

Phone: 713.348.OEDK


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