Tap-Tempo Metronome Kit

Tap-Tempo Metronome Kit
Tap-Tempo Metronome Kit

Tap-Tempo Metronome Kit

Tap patterns up to 12 beats long onto the piezo speaker and this little machine will keep track of the taps and loop them.


The Tap-Tempo Metronome is a tap-controlled metronome and "beat looper." "Syncopation machine." "Metronome with an attitude." You tap the piezo speaker to set the rhythm. The display shows the beats per minute, and the two buttons adjust the speed.


You can tap patterns into it, currently up to 12 beats long. As long as you tap the pattern in three times, it jumps in and continues beeping in that rhythm. If you hold one of the buttons while turning the metronome on, the pitch of the beep will be higher or lower, so you can play with more than one at a time.


Note: Requires Soldering

  • Easy to assemble kit makes for a great learning experience. All parts are easy-to-solder through-hole, with no tiny surface mount parts.
  • Fully open-source design means that everything is freely available and ready to be hacked, including the circuit schematic, PCB layout, part list, and microcontroller firmware.
  • Piezoelectric speaker is used as the pattern input, by simply tapping in the tempo or pattern. Once the metronome learns your pattern, it starts beeping with the same piezo element.
  • Seven-segment displays provide feedback in the form of beats-per-minute (BPM) readings.
  • Custom, professionally-made PCB provides a solid base for happy tappers. All circuit connections are routed on two layers without the use of vias, reducing confusion while assembling.
  • A Pre-programmed Microcontroller means you don't need a specialized microcontroller programmer to get started with the Tactile Metronome.
  • If you want to experiment with modifying the firmware, an in-circuit serial programming (ICSP) header is provided to enable easy re-programming.
  • The PIC 16F685 is a re-programmable microcontroller used to coordinate the rest of the Tactile Metronome. It runs firmware which was written in the C programming language.

    Ceramic ResonatorCeramic Resonator

    The ceramic resonator provides the clock frequency for the microcontroller. Compared to a crystal, it doesn't need external capacitors and is less expensive, but it isn't quite as accurate.

    Battery HolderBattery Holder

    The battery holder holds the batteries and connects them together to the rest of the circuit.

    Seven Segment LED DisplaySeven Segment LED Display

    The seven segment LED display is used to display the beats per minute on the metronome. These are common anode displays. This means that on each display, each LED (segment) is connected together at the power side and connected to an individual pin on the ground side. To make a segment glow, a voltage is applied to the common anode pin, and a lower voltage is applied to the segment pin.

    A resistor is commonly used when powering LEDs. This is to avoid damaging the LED. However, many LEDs can be powered without resistors if the power is pulsed. This puts the "average" power within safe limits and the LED isn't damaged. The appropriate information can usually be found on the LED datasheet.

    This pulsing technique is used to eliminate the need for the resistors. Transistors are used to multiplex the display so fewer pins are required to display all three digits.

    NPN TransistorsNPN Transistors

    The NPN transistors are used to enable and disable each digit of the seven segment LED displays.

    The human eye is much slower than a microcontroller and an LED. If the LEDs are switched on and off quickly, we don't perceive the gaps, just like we see fluid motion when watching a movie made from still frames. We can use this to our advantage to reduce the pin count required to connect all the seven segment LED displays to the microcontroller. If we use the transistors to switch the seven segment displays on and off, we can make sure only one display is on at a time. Once we have this guarantee, we can join all the similar segments together and connect all three similar segments to the microcontroller just once. For example, all the decimal point pins would be connected to each other, and connected to only one pin on the microcontroller. We need one pin per digit to use the transistor to turn the digit on or off. After that, we just need 8 pins to control the segments, and we have full control over the whole display. This takes a total of 11 pins, compared to at least 24 pins if each segment was directly driven by a microcontroller pin.

    Piezo SpeakerPiezo Speaker

    The piezo speaker is used as both input and output in the Tactile Metronome. It does the beeping in the circuit as well as senses the taps. When the circuit beeps, it's due to the microcontroller applying a square wave of 0 and 5 volts across the leads of the piezo speaker.

    The piezo speaker contains a tiny piece of ceramic that exhibits the piezoelectric effect. This means that when the ceramic is flexed, it generates a voltage, and when a voltage is applied across it, the ceramic flexes. This crystal is attached to leads and placed inside a small plastic resonant chamber. This resonant chamber makes the sound louder.

    This piezo speaker is direct-drive, which means that something outside of the speaker has to generate the frequency that the piezo will buzz at. Self-driven piezo speakers have some circuitry in them that lets them buzz themselves when powered.

    Power SwitchPower Switch

    The power switch is used to control the power to the circuit.

    Push ButtonsPush Buttons

    The push buttons are used to provide input to the microcontroller. In this application, they're used to change the tempo of the rhythm, and to control the pitch of the beeps.

    Capacitors10 uF Electrolytic Capacitor and .10 uF Ceramic Capacitor

    The 10 uF electrolytic capacitor and the .10 uF ceramic capacitor are used together to smooth the power. When the power switch is used, the voltage can "get a little jumpy." By adding these capacitors, this jumpiness is reduced. When the circuit is first turned on, the capacitors charge and smooth that transition. When the circuit is turned off, the capacitors discharge and smooth that transition as well.

    Resistor10k Ohm 1/4W Resistor

    The resistor in the circuit is used to provide a path from the piezo speaker to ground. Without it, when the piezo is tapped, charge builds up on the element and readings become inaccurate. The resistor provides a path to ground for that charge.

    Socket20-DIP Socket

    The socket is a way to connect the chip to the PCB without soldering the chip directly. By soldering the socket on the board instead, there's no possibility of overheating the chip with the soldering iron. The chip can also be removed or replaced without soldering.

    PCBTactile Metronome PCB

    A professionally-made PCB is the key to many successful projects. The PCB is a fully-custom design with two signal layers and no vias. All parts are through-hole for easy soldering, with full soldermask and complete silk-screen labeling of all parts.
  • Learn how to make your Tactile Metronome here.
  • Download the source code here.
  • Schematics and firmware design explanations can be found here.
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