Maker builds an abstract clock out of a drum set

This drum clock turns on every hour and starts playing its own music. 

Most people reading this should be familiar with clocks that make a pleasant noise to audibly announce what time it is. Aoun Carlotta decided to put her own spin on things by affixing three stepper motors a drum, hitting or scraping it with various elements. Per the Maker’s description of her AbstractC drum machine, “My project is about trying to make an abstract clock with a drum set. Abstract because it will play every hour, but you won’t actually know what hour it is.”


A lamp timer is used to start the sequence, and the fact that it’s a random beat certainly simplifies synchronizing everything. As described in the project’s Instructable article, one could purchase a motor shield to help with stepper control, but she went through the trouble of soldering a board together herself. Once that was done, an Arduino Uno (ATmega328) is used to take the signal from the lamp timer and run the drum program.

Mechanically, the steppers are attached to the drum via a bracket hooked to the bolts that hold the top hoop, and thus the drum skin on. If you’re thinking about building your own automated percussion instrument, this setup should give you some inspiration. As for what this “random drumming mini-set” sounds like, be sure to check out the video below.

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