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How To Make Your Own Pushbutton-Driven Drum Pedal
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Nathan  
 




Joined: 18 Aug 2006
Posts: 12
Location: Brooklyn, NY

PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2007 6:15 pm    Post subject: How To Make Your Own Pushbutton-Driven Drum Pedal Reply with quote

So I had the time and balls the other day to try the pushbutton-in-real-pedal hack in complete. And by god, it works far better than I could have imagined! Let me say that I had my doubts. The pushbutton pedal I saw in a previous thread looked pretty fragile. But they dude claims that it was sturdy. And he was right. This thing isn't only sturdy, it feels WAY sturdier than the pedal that comes with the game, AND the action it much quicker. I find that it's much easier to hit quick bass notes with this pedal since the pushbutton has to spring back far less than the RB pedal in order to reset for a new hit. It feels better, plays better, is more durable, and is just all-around superior. I bought all the parts new, so it ended up costing me about 50 bucks, but most people ready for this hack probably have all the materials lying around their house, so it may cost you far less. Not counting the time taken to find the parts, it took about an hour to make (I had a real crappy drill and wire cutters).

First, Some Camera Phone Pictures:

Lifting up the metal pedal, you can see the red button mounted in the block of wood, which is in turn duct taped to the pedal's metal base:


The front (TV-facing) side of the pedal. You can see the wire running out of the underside. I used 18-gauge copper audio wire. It was a bit too large, I had to fray it at the ends and hook the components up to the smaller frayed pieces. It worked in the end, but I recommend something of a smaller gauge.


A side view of the pedal. You can see here that the button it perpendicular to the pedal for structural strength. I did this simply by drilling the hole in the wood at an angle. By the way, I used a 3/8 inch wide drill bit, but it was a tiny bit too small, I had to carve it out a bit larger. If you use the normal-sized (non-mini) pushbuttons from Radioshack, try a 1/2 inch drill bit.


A top view of the pedal. It actually doesn't look too ghetto from orbit :P



Parts Used:

Pedal: Cheap 30/35-dollar pedal by Percussion Plus. I bought it from Rincon Music, a latin music store in Brooklyn near my place. But any pedal will do as long as you can find a way to mount the wood too it with duct time or some similar method.

Wire: 18-gauge audio cable from RadioShack, but it was a bit too bit. I recommend something half the size, which they should also have. It was like 3 or 4 bucks for like 25 feet.

Wire Cutters: If you don't have them, you'll need them to cut the wire and strip the plastic insulator off the ends in order to hook it up to the button and audio plug

Momentary Pushbutton: From Radioshack's components drawers. They have normal-sized ones and mini ones. Even the normal-sized ones are a bit small, but they're a lot sturdier than they look. Really, the things can take the beating you give them. Don't get a mini though, get the normal sized. OH. And make sure it's MOMENTARY. Not on/off. On/off varieties turn on with one click and off with another. That's not what we want. We want it momentary- which is ON only while being pushed. Off all other times. They come in packs of two for like 3 bucks.

Mono Audio Plug: Also from RadioShack's components drawers. Also sold in packs of two. They'll probably say solder-type connections, but unscrew them and just make sure they have little holes on the prongs that you can push the audio wire through and it should still work fine. You don't need to solder at all for this project. 3 bucks tops.

A Block Of Wood: I actually had no wood lying around at all. I went to a hardware store about bought a whole beam and cut off a piece with a hacksaw. Oh well. That beam was only 4 bucks, though. Anyway, it just has to be small enough to have clearance under the pedal when the pedal is pushed down.

Larger Drill Bit: If you get your hands on RadioShack's normal-sized Momentary Pushbutton, then you should probably get a 1/2 inch wide drill bit. I got a 3/8 inch sized bit and it was a bit too small and I ended up carving out the hole quite a bit before the plug squished in there. Maybe buy both, they're only a few bucks individually and I haven't tried 1/2 inch, maybe it's actually too big.

Smaller Drill Bit: Like 1/8 inch sized. This is to create holes in the wood to run the wires through. If you're not like me you probably already have several of these. My roommate / rock band singer had one :P

Duct Tape: Like the Force. Light side, dark side. Holds the world together. use it, Luke.


Instructions:

The first thing I did was to connect the electronics. Take about 4-5 feet of audio cable. Strip an inch or two of insulation off the ends. There should be two wires in it, seeing that this is audio cable. (Let me repeat here- no soldering is required for this project)

Unscrew the mono plug, and thread one wire through one prong of the plug, and the other wire through the other plug. Once through, bend the wires back on themselves and wrap them around themselves, so that they don't come undone. DO NOT let the two wires touch each other. That will end up causing a short circuit, and your drum will start registering false hits, or not registering a hit at all.

Now screw the cover back onto the plug. You may have to run it along the length of the wire to get to back to the plug if you've had it lying around during this. Tada, you've created an audio wire with a mono audio plug on one end. You could make some mono headphones. But NO, we must persevere! Continue.

The two wires from the audio cable are probably wiggling around and touching occasionally. This is bad. Separate them, and then slap some duct tape on them to keep them that way. I don't think duct tape is conductive. It's been working fine for me, in any case.

Now onto the push-button end of things. The push-button doesn't have a screw to undo, so just strip the other end of the cable like before, and attach the two wires to the two prongs as before. It doesn't matter which one. There's no "positive" wire or "negative" wire yet. You don't have to worry about that. Also, don't bother duct taping the wires to keep them apart like before. I have a different method to handle that on this end. It involved the smaller drill bit. You'll see.

At this point, you should test out the button to see if it works. Plug it into the drum set and go to the song selection screen. Make sure none of your wires are touching each other to cause short circuits. if pushing the button changes the sort method, you're good to go so far! If not, Check all your connections. Make sure the two wires never touch each other. Make sure that all four points where wire connects to prong are tight and secure and not too sloppy.

Now for the wood! This might be the trickiest part of building this thing.

First thing we have to do here it figure out where the button is going to go. Push the pedal down as low as it'll go, and then place the button underneath it wherever you feel it best, and push it into the button of the pedal as if it's being triggered. See the height of things? In this state, is there room for the button to be placed in the wood? The button isn't hitting anything that's not flat, like a metal brace on the underside of the pedal or anything? All good? OK, then mark on your wood where you'll be drilling.

Drill the hole in the wood using the 1/2 or 3/8 inch wide bit -whichever you decided to go with- at and angle that will make the button perpendicular with the pushed-down pedal. Go all the way through the wood. The pushbutton should be wider in the middle, so it won't go all the way though a hole as small as the one you're drilling.

Now we're going to driller out two smaller holes on either side of the large hole, using the smaller bit. Think of them like... Mickey Mouse ears on the large circle. Except have them at opposite sides of the hole from each other, not close to each other like Mickey's ears. What are these two holes for, you ask? Why, the audio wire! See, since we've already connected the wire to the push-button and the pushbutton isn't meant to go all the way through the hole, the wire and button will have to enter from the same side- the top of the wood. So, using the smaller drill bit, CAREFULLY (for your safety, since it's a drill bit afterall) create those two "ears" on either side of the larger hole. Not separate holes of their own. More like extensions of the large hole.

Alright, no try sticking in the plug with the wires. If you used a 3/8 bit, it may be a bit large and you'll have to gut it out a bit more with something like a file. If it was a 1/2, I dunno it might be perfect, you you might need to pad it somehow, with like duct tape. It's not an exact science at this point, is it. But you'll get it, it's not hard.

Now that you've got your button-in-block assembly, time to mount all of this onto the pedal! First, take the hammer off of it. You don't need the hammer. Throw it at someone you don't like.

OK, good. Now this part will vary from pedal to pedal. Me, I needed to cut a small notch in my wood with a hacksaw to get the button where I wanted it. You may need to, also. Basically, get it where you want it, and find a sturdy way to wrap duct tape around it and the pedal. If your pedal had front-to-back braces on it's underside (which it probably does), left-right movement of the wood is what you'll want to keep under control. Because if the button is under a brace and not a flat section of the pedal when you push it down with your foot, things can get ugly (the button slips around, makes distracting noises during play, hits earlier than you expect because the brace is closer to it than the rest of the pedal)

Now, stand back and admire your work with pride! You've literally created your own Rock Band bass pedal! Congrats! Go to the song selection menu and try it out- see if hitting the pedal changes the song sorting like it should. Get used the superior pedal. I suggest tightening the springs on the sides as much as possible to make up for the resistance you lost when you got rid of the hammer. Calibrate it for your preferences, and enjoy!

Tips:

EDIT: -So after using the pedal for a week or so, I've noticed a wear n' tear issue. This may not be true every time, but the button I used started to malfunction after a while. It didn't physically break, but instead it started to occasionally register too many hits when pushed a certain way. It's register a hit on the way down AND on the way up, or like several hits while pushed down. So I replaced it with the other button that came in the bag with it. Same deal, just a black button and not red :P So if you find yourself nearly failing simple songs after a while, that's probably why. Replace the button and your scores will quadruple.

-This pedal can take a lot of force. Much more than the RB pedal. Still, I would avoid playing it in shoes, just to be safe. Play it by ear (rather, use your damn intuition and common sense). One thing that I image would break this setup would be if you rammed down too hard on it and forced the button into the hole you drilled, breaking the wood or something. Even if that did happen- which I doubt- the parts in this setup are all super cheap and easy to replace.

-Always make sure that if your pedal has supports on it's underside, that the button isn't hitting them. You'll get uneven hits and play will get sloppy. If the wood slides around, fix the duct tape.

-The button requires you to lift your foot up much less than the RB pedal. Learn that ;)


HOPE THIS HELPS!


Last edited by Nathan on Thu Dec 06, 2007 4:06 pm; edited 1 time in total
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nipps  
 




Joined: 14 Jun 2006
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Location: brooklyn, ny

PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2007 6:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

my friend and i made that too! it works on his drum set. but on my piece of crap drum set it doesnt work. my stereo jack is all screwed up! good thing my replacement is suppose to be here tomorrow
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TheGlow  
 




Joined: 18 Feb 2006
Posts: 2748
Location: J Train Brooklyn!

PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2007 2:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ha. I saw you say Rincon music and I thought wow, I thought those were only in Brooklyn. Sure enough your around my ways.
I was thinking bout going into one of these.
Hows the stability of it on the floor? I took a liking to putting my pedal off onto the right and without the kit to brace it, it starts moving around on me. Carpet floor, so I get some slack.
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Nathan  
 




Joined: 18 Aug 2006
Posts: 12
Location: Brooklyn, NY

PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2007 4:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

TheGlow wrote:
Ha. I saw you say Rincon music and I thought wow, I thought those were only in Brooklyn. Sure enough your around my ways.
I was thinking bout going into one of these.
Hows the stability of it on the floor? I took a liking to putting my pedal off onto the right and without the kit to brace it, it starts moving around on me. Carpet floor, so I get some slack.


I play on a carpet, and I have no problems with the pedal moving at all. It stays put very stubbornly.

Oh, and the Rincon I went to is on the south end of Graham St., in Bed-Stuy. I'm up in Williamsburg at the Graham St. stop on the L, where are you at?
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TheGlow  
 




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Location: J Train Brooklyn!

PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2007 11:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

J train, other end, Cypress Hills.
But I seen one round my father in laws area, and I knew he was somewhere around the L/G/J sorta near Woodhull hospital. But i get rides home sometimes down Flatbush and I think i seen one that way too.
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RawWS6  
 




Joined: 13 Jan 2007
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 10, 2007 6:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good writeup - I may have to try this out. My pedal hasn't broken yet, but it sure sounds like it might now that i've moved into the second to last tier on expert. Everytime I really get jumping on that sucker I get scared.
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evilgoat  
 




Joined: 09 Apr 2007
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 10, 2007 11:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is a fantastic report. I'm glad to hear you have gotten such great results. I'm on the last tier of expert drums, and the default pedal is finally starting to kill me. I was able to deal for a while, but there's too much pressure against your foot going to down to hit any fast parts. I feel like I have no stamina. I will definitely be purchasing some basic pedalage this week and hustling my ass to Radioshack. Thank you.
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SamuraiVern  
 




Joined: 11 Jun 2007
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2007 10:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This worked perfect for me. I altered things to my specific product availability, but to give you an idea as to what I did (and what ugly shoes I threw on to get my supplies) I took had a picture taken while I was finally crushin Epic.





Spoilered for hugeness.
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Nathan  
 




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PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2008 4:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So I'm seeing several how-tos on making a real bass pedal work with a reed switch. This tutorial is for a push-button switch. Is there an advantage to either? I don't exactly know what a reed switch is, really.
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spartancl44  
 




Joined: 11 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2008 6:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I tried this method, and it works beautifully. I got a pushbutton switch and cord with 1/8th'' jack on one end and bare wires on the other, both at RadioShack, and my friend gave me his old bass pedal. I actually didnt bother with the wood, and just duct taped the switch right under the pedal. Since the bottom of the pedal was not flat, I stacked some pennies together and taped them to the bottom, right over the switch. Pictures might be coming, but it works great and was cheap as dirt. Since Ive got this thing, Im not trying too hard to get a replacement, that's how well it works! Hope this works out for everyone else.
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BKING27  
 




Joined: 14 May 2007
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2008 7:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

question:

would this pedal work:




the reason I ask is becasue I notice a screw of some sort underneath the pedal thats sticking out kind of high. With that there would you still be able to use this pedal?

let me know if this doesn't make sense and I'll try and rephrase
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RawWS6  
 




Joined: 13 Jan 2007
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2008 8:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nathan wrote:
So I'm seeing several how-tos on making a real bass pedal work with a reed switch. This tutorial is for a push-button switch. Is there an advantage to either? I don't exactly know what a reed switch is, really.


The reed switch is a non-contact switch. It's tripped by a magnet coming into close proximity with the switch. As long as you calibrate properly (put your reed switch and magnet the proper distance apart for a hit to trigger), it works very well.

The downside to the reed switch is that you need to buy a practice pad or something for your pedal beater to hit against. Some may view this as an upside because it feels more like a real bass drum.

The downside to the pushbutton switch is that it will probably wear out and you will have to replace the switch. You will be physically jumping on the switch repeatedly, it will wear out.

All that being said, I have a reed switch bass pedal and it works amazingly well. Incredibly sensitive, I only have to move the pedal a very small amount to register a new hit. It's awesome getting those quick double bass hits consistently. I would highly highly recommend the reed switch.
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RawWS6  
 




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PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2008 8:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

BKING27 wrote:
question:

would this pedal work:




the reason I ask is becasue I notice a screw of some sort underneath the pedal thats sticking out kind of high. With that there would you still be able to use this pedal?

let me know if this doesn't make sense and I'll try and rephrase


You have to mount the switch so that it is pressed before the pedal has stroked all the way down. Obviously the pedal isn't hitting the screw, so it shouldn't be a problem, but you'll just have to put the switch closer to the end of the pedal.

That being said, the metal screw may be a good place to mount a reed switch. I just taped my reed switch to a small piece of wood (wrapped in tape) to make something like a "reed switch lollipop", then taped that piece of wood to the screw under my pedal.

If you really want a pushbutton pedal, go for it, just consider where you want to mount the switch. This was an excellent idea when the game just came out, but I think most that have tried it will agree Reed switch is the way to go, so make sure you check out that tutorial as well.
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BKING27  
 




Joined: 14 May 2007
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2008 8:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:

If you really want a pushbutton pedal, go for it, just consider where you want to mount the switch. This was an excellent idea when the game just came out, but I think most that have tried it will agree Reed switch is the way to go, so make sure you check out that tutorial as well.


well I'll defiantly check it out. I was trying to think of some way I could protect the actual button more because I'm not sure how well they actually hold up as I haven't read much about what people have said about their durability. But I think money wise, if they do hold up, they would be the way to go.

Is that the only reason you prefer the Reed switch, or are there other benefits as well?
[/quote]
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RawWS6  
 




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PostPosted: Fri Jan 11, 2008 2:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

BKING27 wrote:
Quote:

If you really want a pushbutton pedal, go for it, just consider where you want to mount the switch. This was an excellent idea when the game just came out, but I think most that have tried it will agree Reed switch is the way to go, so make sure you check out that tutorial as well.


well I'll defiantly check it out. I was trying to think of some way I could protect the actual button more because I'm not sure how well they actually hold up as I haven't read much about what people have said about their durability. But I think money wise, if they do hold up, they would be the way to go.

Is that the only reason you prefer the Reed switch, or are there other benefits as well?
[/quote]

I haven't actually tried the pushbutton switch. I've read plenty of posts about it when the game first came out and was excited to try it. Then someone came up with the reed switch method and i went that route. It works so well, I can't imagine anything else.

I don't like the idea of the bottom of the pedal slamming on a switch repeatedly - keep in mind with a pushbutton switch, you are using a bass pedal to do something it wasn't designed to do. You are banging the bottom of the pedal on a hard piece of plastic/wood repeatedly. With the reed switch, the pedal operates exactly as it would with a drum set - beater hits surface.

Obviously the pushbutton will be a little cheaper because you don't need a practice pad. The cost of the reed switch electronics weren't that much - I can't remember. $10 or so, I think it lists the cost in the tutorial. Anyway, good luck!
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