Re: Percussive dance sensors

Andy Clarke (
Fri, 4 Jun 1999 12:31:25 +0100

>c) I've been told that the sensors in drum pads are binary (ie off or on
>when a certain threshold is reached), is this true? My problem is that
>percussive dance isn't this discrete...a limited number of levels would be
>fine but just on/off would be very limiting.

As a quick (and cheap) binary solution, I have heard that you can buy
pressure mats from places like Maplin and wire then directly to a computer
keyboard. Just take off the keys and connect a wire from the pad on either
side of where the key used to be. It is simple to then write a program to
play the samples (you are just responding to a key press).

The pads are in the security section of the Maplins catalogue and cost
about 5 each. One pad placed on top of another (possibly with a layer of
foam in between) might give you a limited number of levels of sensitivity.

Have you also considered just placing a microphone in contact with (or
under) the stage and measuring how loud the footsteps are? This is just a
suggestion - I haven't tried it. I'm guessing that loudness would be
roughly equivalent to pressure, and that a mic in contact with the stage
would emphasise the sound of the footsteps and de-emphasise the noise of
the music and the audience.

>d) Finally I've heard of an impact-sensitive peripheral for the Sony
>Playstation previewed at a Japanese trade-show for the home version of the
>Japanese arcade hit bust-a-move (basically follow the on-screen disco moves
>with your feet). Any more info?

I don't know where you are based, but there is one of these arcade machines
in the Namco Wonderpark in Windmill Street, London (off Shaftesbury
Avenue). I don't think that the arcade game is pressure sensitive - I think
that it is just binary like the Maplin pads. Computer Exchange in Rathbone
Place (off Oxford Street) is the best place for imported Playstation
accessories - if anywhere has them, they will. I'm not sure how "hackable"
this Playstation pads will be, though.

Andy Clarke

Andy Clarke
78 West Kensington Court
Edith Villas
London W14 9AB
Phone: 44 (0) 171 602 3382