For the more experienced dance game players, the soft foam pad that comes with the console games is not enough. And sometimes the getting to the arcade with their favorite dance game is too much of a journey. With Cobalt Flux being out of the picture and with quality metal dance pads becoming harder to find, some of the most dedicated players take it upon themselves to create a dance pad just for them. That’s exactly what Gal Pavlin did. With his engineering knowledge and resources, he created his very own metal dance pad using load cell sensors as opposed to the more common contact foil found in commercial dance pads. Get a sneak peek with an excerpt of his post below.

Finished pad.

What happens one a man has too much time and a workshop with fancy toys in his garage? With school being too easy and girlfriend nowhere to be found I often find myself exploring areas that interest me. It started with drones, electric powered bikes and longboards but for the last month I often found myself dancing. Firstly, I borrowed my friend’s softmat which was okay for the beginning but soon I progressed with my dancing skills and started to hate everything about it. I’m sure all DDR dancers know what I’m talking about. That’s when I decided to build one.

Enough about me.

Thorough research was required to figure out how dance pads even work. After collecting a lot of great ideas and learning about their weaknesses and advantages I wrote down the following desired goals of the design:

  • zero noise,
  • high sensitivity,
  • low mechanical wear,
  • and LEDs on each pad.

At this point I had pretty much everything sorted out. Load cell sensors were my choice because they promised long life and no noise. Pads are basically a sandwich of plywood, polycarbonate plastics on top and LEDs in the middle. Main frame is made with aluminum profile normally used in machine frame constructions.

After that I spent about one week designing everything in CAD software, ordering parts and learning about load cell sensors. I also designed first prototype of electronics required for converting low voltage signals (1 mV) from sensors to more useful 5V that any USB module can read.

Maybe you’re wondering why I made everything so complicated? Why do I need 36 sensors, special electronics, CNC machine and a 3D printer to make this pad? Don’t ask, because I don’t know. I want to expose that making this pad simple and easy to build for everyone wasn’t my priority. I took it more as a proof of concept and something to learn on and expand my knowledge in designing and manufacturing electronics. From this aspect the dance pad was a great success.

Computer render of the dance pad.
Computer render of the dance pad.

So everything designed with a beautiful picture on my monitor. What’s next? To the hardware store!


Click here to check out the rest of the post on how Gal constructed his dance pad, including downloads for the 3D models and design files, materials used, wiring diagrams and more!