Don’t call it “lo-fi.” Call it “rad-fi.”

At least, that’s what Austin, Texas-based creator Dr. Bleep says about his latest, the Bleep Drum. We saw the Stone’s Throw Records / Dam-Funk commission Dam-Drum 2.0 last month, but it sold out almost as soon as we mentioned it. The Bleep Drum is a sibling to that drum machine. There are some adjustments to the design, but most significantly, this one isn’t a limited edition – you might actually be able to get one of your own.

It’s simple, hackable (with pins onboard), Arduino-based, and grungy enough to be fun. And as a $60 kit, sold through the manufacturer and popular electronics outfitter Sparkfun, it might even qualify as an impulse buy. If you don’t want to solder it yourself, an assembled version will be available from April at $85.

It also sounds different – enough so that die-hard Dam-Drum fans might even want both. There’s a new sound set, and a new “HYPERNOISE 30XX” mode. (Crazy.)

Here’s what the Bleep Drum looks like next to the Dam-Drum we saw before:

bleep dam drum

Drum machines like this are good fun, but for many of us, a key question is whether you can integrate the machine with other gear. In the case of the Bleep Drum, working with equipment that sends analog signal or MIDI is possible – with a little effort. That’s where the “hacking” comes in (though it’s relatively simple):

It can take trigger pulses for the pads and tempo. MIDI is just a hack away. See the hacking guide for more on the expansion port on the left side.

Actually, the amount of the hack on MIDI is a bit more involved – that’s a circuit that’s missing there. I would have liked to see MIDI onboard standard, personally, though it does make the size of the unit bigger (the circuit, but mainly the massive MIDI connector).

Trigger will be a significantly easier mod – you just plug it in, basically.

This isn’t really a fair complaint, though, because the price is so low. I’ll be curious to see someone devise a mod with MIDI and a clever case.

The Hacking Guide is pretty straightforward: there are pins to which you can connect those ins and outs.


  • Four sounds, two with pitch control
  • Four selectable sequences
  • Record patterns just by playing them
  • Tap tempo
  • Reverse mode
  • Hyper Noise 30XX mode

See also (a bit more complex, but MIDI standard and a different design approach — and open source, not only hackable):
frauAngelico: Lo-Fi, Playable, Open Source Drum Instrument and Sequencer [Gallery, Video]