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The MIDI-Bash Project
Simple circuits using PIC micros to make MIDI electronic drums
Roman Black - Started Jan 2009, web Mar 2009 (unfinished).

What is MIDI-Bash?

The MIDI-Bash Project is about making very simple electronic drums (and/or other electronic instruments) using cheap PIC microcontrollers. Full schematics and PIC source code is provided so you can build your own MIDI-Bash using my designs as a guide.

MIDI stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface. It is a very common standard where note data is sent digitally between commercial musical devices, usually keyboards. Almost all keyboards have a MIDI interface these days, even many cheap "beginner" keyboards. Also, most keyboards have drum sounds built in as well as the typical instrument sounds like piano, organ, bass, strings etc.

MIDI-Bash is a homemade MIDI-controller that sends a MIDI message when you hit a button (or "bash" a pad), then that MIDI-message makes a commercial keyboard or sound module play a drum sound or a sound sample or any other instrument sound.

Typically you can use my MIDI-Bash designs as guides to quickly make cheap electronic drum pads (or a full drum set) or even a custom-designed musical instrument or other MIDI-controller of your choosing.

The MIDI-Bash concept

Below you can see the simplest MIDI-Bash circuit. Apart from a 5 volt regulator (not shown) and a box to put it in, this really is all you need to make a MIDI-Bash.

The note up/down buttons are my invention and really are vital in making MIDI-Bash useful. By holding down either button, and hitting a drum pad, that pad's drum sound steps up/down to the next drum sound. So even if you have only ONE pad and one sound, you can quickly change that drum sound to ANY other drum sample in your MIDI module. If you have a few pads, you can quickly assign any drum sound to any pad. Its very instinctive, you can even change pad sounds in the middle of a performance. It is also handy for a minimal drum set for home recording (only 3 or 4 pads) as you can easily set it up for kick/snare/hihats and record a track, then just change the pads to be toms or specials like claps and bells etc and record another track.

Being minimalist, the note up/down buttons cost almost nothing in terms of the hardware (2 cheap buttons) or the effort to add those buttons. There is no need for a display, or menus, or complex switching etc. It is very low cost, very easy to use and very very handy!

Velocity sensitive MIDI-Bash drum designs

Below you can see the next level of MIDI-Bash designs. These use a PIC that has ADC (Analog to Digital Converter) inputs, these PICs are still cheap and easy to find.

For the slight cost increase of adding piezo sensors and a few extra electronic parts the MIDI-Bash gets full velocity sensing. As you hit the pad harder the drum gets louder. This rivals the performance of commercial electronic drum kits, and you can even use "proper" drum sensor pads if you dont want to make your own.

More to come on this web page soon!!

At this point (19th May 2009) I have the PIC software written and working ok for a number of MIDI-Bash designs. I also have some MIDI-Bloop versions under construction that receive MIDI commands and make music. Ie they are a one-chip synth that also performs the MIDI decoding. These are built and working on my MikroC PIC development board.

Currently I am finalising the circuit diagrams and photos needed to finish the MIDI-Bash and MIDI-Bloop project pages.

Click HERE for the MIDI-Bash Software and photos!!

And stay tuned, more to come!

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