Once you have your circuit prototype tested and working, you will need to solder wires to these components for a solid connection. You should start by measuring lengths of wires needed for connecting the Gemma to the NeoPixels and mic sensor. The wires should be long enough to run through the air hole and inside the drum shell. The main circuit (which contains the gemma, battery and switch) will be fitted inside an enclosure and mounted on the side of the drum shell closest to the air hole. To see if your wires are long enough, place the Gemma into position and see if the wire is long enough to connect the NeoPixel strips inside the drum shell. It's fine to have some extra wire.
The NeoPixel strip will need three wires soldered to the beginning of the pixel strip. Solder a black wire to the GND pin. A blue wire to the DIN pin. And a red wire to the positive +5V pin. The length of these three wires can be short because we can use alligator clips to connect them to the longer wires that will be soldered to the Gemma.
The NeoPixel strips will be mounted to the inner lining of the drum shells. You can measure and cut the length of an LED strip needed to cover the whole shell. Use the indictor on the strip to cut them properly. Position the first LED pixel closest to the air hole of the shell. The wires at the end of the strip should remain inside the shell.
You can choose how deep you want your lights to be in the shells. For the drum kick, we positioned them away from the drum pedal so it's brighter when facing an audience. In the tom toms and the snare, the LEDs are positioned closer to the drummer, but you can mount them closer to the bottom for the audience. You can use paper tape to keep the strips mounted to the inner lining. We can do this after we solder wires to the NeoPixel strips.
Three short wires will need to be soldered to the break out pins. Once soldered, position the mic sensor inside the shell. The mic sensor will be mounted to the inside of the shell with paper tape. Use alligator clips to connect to the mic sensor wires to the Gemma enclosure that is outside of the drum through the air hole.
With the wires soldered to the gemma, you can fit each cable through the small slit on the side of the case. Carefully bend the wires down towards the opening of the case for a good fit. You can stick a small piece of doubled-sided foam tape to keep the bottom of the Gemma secured it in place.
The battery should be positioned inside of the case on top of the Gemma. The slide switch can be positioned through the cutout on the enclosure cover. You can use an adhesive to secure the slide switch.
Attach the hanger to the back of the case with a piece of double-sided foam tape. Position the hole on the hanger above the shell pin and press it down to mount it into place.
Once you have all of the parts mounted and secured to the shells, play and test out each piece. If you have issues with the LEDs, make sure your battery is fully charged and check your alligator clip connections to see if any wires are touching. The amount of sensitivity will vary depending on where you position the mic sensor.
We used pieces of cable tube organizers to protect the exposed wired. You can also use shrink tubing for a more permanent finish.
The lithium polymer batteries can be removed and recharged. They should last about an hours worth of play time. You can alternatively use a bigger battery pack for a longer sessions. The cases are non-intrsutive to the look of the drums and the wires and sensor inside the shells don't have an overall change to the sound. Since each drum is independent of each other, you can break down your set without having to worry about disconnecting any wires!

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This guide was first published on Dec 04, 2013. It was last updated on Mar 08, 2024.

This page (Build) was last updated on Dec 03, 2013.

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