EMG Drumset

University of Melbourne – Biosystems Design Project

The fall semester of my junior year, I studied abroad at the University of Melbourne in Australia. One of the classes I elected to take was a biosystems design class where we spent a semester working in a team to create a biomedical device using lab sensors.

The sensors we were provided were standard: EKG electrodes, heart-rate monitors, grip-strength sensors, pneumotachometers, etc. Thus many of the other groups combined these sensors to form some kind of (in my opinion) unoriginal “anxiety detectors.” My group elected to take a more creative and fun approach. We hacked the EKG sensor, using the electrodes to instead attach them to our arm and leg muscles to form an EMG. This EMG would detect when we tapped our hands and feet, and produce drumming sounds; an “air drum” per se.

This was my first large scale engineering project that exposed me to the most fundamental of engineering concepts: use what you have to make something different. This project was a fantastic introduction to prototyping tools and software, such as NI ELVIS prototyping boards, and LabView. But best of all, I enjoyed the project. Going abroad to a new country and diving into this project helped me to make new friends with my group mates. I’m sure the other classmates were annoyed with the persistent bangs and clangs around from our EMG drum set, but we sure had fun.