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Ars Electronica 2023 Presentation


Ignacio Viano




¿Qué es Drum.ino?

Drum.ino is an Arduino-based lo-fi drum machine. It is an electronic drum with 8-bit samples and a 16-step sequencer fully operated by an obsolete and reused PC keyboard. Despite the technological limitations of an Arduino (amount of memory and speed of operation) this project manages to offer a drum machine with six samples playable in real time or by means of the sequencer, storage of rhythms in permanent memory, effects, random rhythm generator, tap tempo, among other features.

Here is a demo video


This project was born from the idea of hardware recycling. It was observed that the PS/2 keyboards are in the process of obsolescence despite generally having a good state of operation. It was also observed that the keyboards can be personalized with labels, thus modifying their logic oriented to writing by other oriented to “panel with buttons mappable for different purposes”. Also, PS/2 connectivity is especially easy to integrate with Arduino since it does not require additional hardware. This is how we came up with the idea of using a PC keyboard and an Arduino to build musical instruments.

Since the most complex piece of hardware in the project (PS/2 keyboard) comes from recycling, the work left to the users is rather simple: connections with minimal components, labeling, upload code to arduino and play the instrument. This makes the project suitable for kids, teachers, musicians and hobbyists. 


As stated above Drum.ino is a musical instrument formed by combining an outdated PC keyboard with an Arduino. We believe that this is the original idea of the project and similar experiences have not been observed. A variety of different instruments can emerge from this depending on how the arduino is programmed and how the keyboard is labeled.

In this case it is a drum machine, and although the code is original and was developed especially for this project, it could not exist without the contribution of countless people who generously published their work under some type of license that allows its reuse and modification. For the software of this project, in addition to the Arduino platform, two additional libraries were used. Ps2keyadvanced was used to manage communication with the keyboard and Mozzi as an audio and synthesis engine.

In this way, complying with the licenses that so provide, but mainly motivated by the conviction of the value of collective work and free information, the software of this project is published under the most open license possible. At the moment it is: Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0). Both the source code and the binary are available at github.

Drum.ino shield

We believe that an important part of the project is to make available to the community all the information necessary to build a Drum.ino using a minimum amount of components, tools and prior knowledge. So is offering support and encouraging users to replicate, modify, or incorporate Drum.ino into their projects.

However, it was observed that there is a portion of potential users that does not have what is necessary (tools, knowledge, time, interest) to build with their own hands an instrument of these characteristics. That is why together with VZtec we are developing a solution in the form of a complementary board (shield) that allows the user to assemble their own Drum.ino simply by connecting the board with an Arduino without the need for tools, just like a Lego.

WhatsApp Image 2023-01-18 at 21.25.26.jpeg

Render 3D del primer Drum.ino Shield (actualmente en producción).

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