By Blue CollarÂ
What went wrong?
In the continuing battle for supremacy between Guitar Hero: World Tour and Rock Band 2 it’s commonly accepted that although RB2 has the edge when it comes to song content, the GH:WT instruments are generally better designed and more fun to play on. There’s one glaring exception though – the cheap plastic kick drum pedal bundled with the GH:WT drum kit is not up to a life of hard rocking.
After a couple of weeks of playing, I started to notice that my kick drum pedal had developed issues with its sensitivity and was affecting my scoring due to it registering hits incorrectly. Then, after only one month of playing the game the pedal itself began to physically break apart – specifically, the base plate below the pedal itself was crushed. While the pedal was still functioning, it was on its last legs – it felt all mushy whenever the pedal was depressed against the base, and it was more inaccurate in its game response than ever. To make things worse it was the day before New Year’s Eve and my planned GH:WT New Year’s Bash of Doom was at stake. I needed to make a plan to replace or fix the pedal ASAP.
There’s been a lot of talk about third party peripherals for the game like Nyko’s Metal Pedal, but there was no way I could get hold of one on such short notice and even now, to the best of my knowledge, these are not available in South Africa.
After further searching, I stumbled across this video of a guy who was using a Roland KD-8 bass trigger pedal. I immediately called TOMS in Braamfontein to see if they had stock of any KD-8s. Alas, they were out of stock and would only be receiving more in a couple of weeks. The helpful sales guy in the drum section suggested I try the Roland FD-8 hi hat pedal instead, so I took one home to see if it would work. As it turns out, the FD-8 pedal is NOT COMPATIBLE with Guitar Hero: World tour. My only remaining option was to try and fashion a new pedal. In the end, I managed to create a very nice pedal setup for GH:WT for about R700. Here’s how:
The GH:WT kick pedal uses a piezo sensor to register any impacts and translate them to electric signals. I figured I should be able to salvage the piezo out of the old broken pedal and put it into a new pedal setup. TOMS music was kind enough to exchange the Roland FD-8 pedal for a normal drum pedal (like you would use on any acoustic kick drum) and a practice pad. Now all I had to do was transplant the piezo sensor from the old pedal to the practice pad and rig the practice pad to the new kick pedal.
Removing the piezo sensor:
On the underside of the GH:WT kick pedal is a grippy pad near the toe-end of the pedal. Removing this pad will reveal two holes with a screw inside each hole. The screws hold the base plate onto the â€œfloorâ€ of the pedal.
Remove the two screws and you should be able to pry off the base plate section , revealing the Piezo sensor itself as well as some other plastic bits and pieces. Notice how this cheap plastic had failed to withstand the power of hard rock. You will also notice that I managed to break the contact between the sensor and the wire that was connected to it. This meant that I would later on have to clean off the silicon looking stuff that had been used to connect the wire to the sensor and solder the wire back on. If you exercise caution when taking the sensor our in the first place, it’s likely that you wouldn’t have to this.
Preparing the practice pad
The next step is to take apart your practice pad. Easy sauce.
Bearing in mind that you will need to run a wire inside the practice pad, you have to make a small groove in the aluminium frame of the practice pad skin, as well as in the plastic rim and the backing plate.
Preparing the piezo sensor
You’ll notice that the piezo sensor is glued to a roughly 5mm thick coin-sized piece of plastic, ostensibly to protect the sensor itself from getting damaged during drumming. I found that this piece of plastic was preventing the sensor from registering softer impacts and decided to remove it using a Stanley knife. By easing the blade of the Stanley knife in between the sensor and the plastic â€œcoinâ€ it’s quite easy to separate them by cutting through the glue holding them together – just be careful not to bend or scratch the sensor. Next, scrape off as much glue residue as possible. I just used my fingernail to scrape off the residue, as I was concerned that I might scratch the sensor if I used a metallic object. Now clean off the sensor using a solvent like lacquer thinners or pure acetone.
If, like me, you managed to break contact between the wire and the piezo sensor you’ll need to reconnect the wire now. I’m not sure whether on a sensor like this it matters which of the two wires is connected to which part of the sensor, so I would recommend that before you do any soldering that you first tape the wires into place in order to check that everything works. One wire must be connected to the gold donut shaped ring on the outside of the sensor and one on the white circle in the middle of the sensor.
Now plug the wire’s 3.5mm stereo jack into your GH:WT drum kit and load up a song on practice mode. Once the song is playing, tap on the sensor to see if your connections are working. If not, try swapping the wires around so that the one that was touching the white centre circle is now on the gold outer ring and vice versa. If this still doesn’t work, check that the wire is actually making contact with the sensor. If you’ve tried all of the above, it’s likely that the sensor itself is no longer work. Sorry for you.
For the rest of you, congratz, your sensor is working as intended and you can proceed to the next step.
Putting the sensor into the practice pad:
The plastic â€œcoinâ€ that was used to protect the sensor was too thick for our purposes, but that doesn’t mean the sensor needs no protection at all. I used a piece of 0.6mm galvanized sheet that I had lying around in my workshop. Find something similar – and rigid piece of steel or plastic should be sufficient. You want to stop the beater on the new drum pedal from deforming the sensor, but you don’t want to block too much of the vibrations from the beater making contact with the practice pad skin. Your sensor protector should be roughly 5cm x 5cm in size.
Position the sensor on the protector plate and then use mass amounts of duct tape to stick the sensor and protector plate onto the back of the practice pad skin.
Now reassemble the practice pad.
Rigging the practice pad and pedal together:
All that needs to be done now is to build some kind of frame that the practice pad connects to vertically so that the kick pedal’s beater can make clean, perpendicular contact with the practice pad. I employed some basic woodworking to fashion my frame. A simple L-shape made from planks with a 45 degree support brace is plenty strong.
Mount the practice pad to the frame by drilling holes right through the front plank and fasten with 4mm x 60mm (or similar) bolts and nuts. It’s a good idea to use washers at the back of the plank to provide a more secure connection.
If you look at your new drum pedal you will notice that there is a claw-like mechanism on the front that usually is used to hold the pedal in place on the rim of the bass drum. Seeing as though you lack a bass drum with a rim you’ll need to include something on your frame that the pedal can hold onto. I just used some 8mm threaded rod and bent it into a shape that allowed the horizontal piece of the threaded bar – the piece that the pedal would actually hold onto – to be about 5mm from ground level.
I drilled holes right through the vertical plank near the bottom of the plank and then held the threaded bar in place using a nut and washer tightened against both sides of the plank. The pedal can now grip onto this bar.
Now all you have to do is position the frame in place, connect the 3.5mm stereo jack to your GH:WT drum kit,
prepare a quick PIE SANDWICH to celebrate
and proceed to enjoy your more lifelike, much stronger kick pedal setup.Â
Last Updated: January 21, 2009