Audio-Reactive Stage Lighting – Prototype

Hard to name, but easy to understand once you see it: (Warning, the videos are LOUD!)


This setup consists of 16 Macetech LED Satellites, 2 Macetech Octobars, a Macetech Shifty VU shield, and an Arduino UNO along with a 12V 5A power supply and some misc audio cables. We’ve used Macetech Shiftbrites for years, and saw the new Octobars and LED Satellites at MakerFaire – Macetech had an awesome ceiling for their booth that was audio-reactive… Adam and I dreamed up this audio-reactive stage lighting project while still at MakerFaire

At the moment, I’m running the RustyVU sketch with some minor modifications as a proof-of-concept. The feedback was awesome – the boys love it, as did the attendees of the last Open House at FamiLAB. The initial setup was 1/2″ PVC and a LOT of zip ties. Then I moved to some photo backdrop stands (without the crossbar) and zip ties. The final version will involve some laser-cut brackets and the photo backdrop stands.

So, what’s next?

  1. Laser-cut the brackets (one per LED satellite). I’ve got them drawn in Inkscape, just need to get to the labto cut & adjust.DONE.  Check out this blog post on the design, creation, and use of the brackets.
  2. Move to the MSGEQ7 IC to get multi-band audio analysis. I’ve looked at FFT on the Arduino, but would rather do it with a discrete circuit.
  3. Add switches to the Arduino circuit to allow for effect and color changes while they are playing. The concept is to build it into a standard guitar pedal case with footswitches. I’ll also add a level-adjustment pot(s) to the case. 7-segment LED(s) may be in order to show the number of the effect or color that is selected.Prototyped – one button that cycles through the gradient presets. I also added more presets like this Red, White & Blue gradient and simplified the MaceTech RustyVU Arduino sketch by creating #defines for colors. A gradient now looks like this:{WHT, PNK, BLU, GRN, GRN, YEL, RED, OFF}

    instead of:

    {255,255,255, 255,0,255, 0,0,255, 0,255,0, 0,255,0, 255,255,0, 255,0,0, 0,0,0}

    which makes it _much_ easier for me to view / edit / create new gradients…

    I also added the external adjustment potentiometer which makes it much easier to adjust the light display based on the current song / source.

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    Another stage in the prototyping process... Here I'm using a small chain of ShiftBrites to test - the big satellite modules are too much for my desk / office :)

  4. Buy / Build the case. I found Mammoth Electronics recently, and can’t wait to order some gear from them – awesome stuff.The case in the pic above is just to keep the circuit together for the FamiLAB Open House – it isn’t the intended design.
  5. To make it all fit in the case, I need to move to a smaller Arduino board and a custom PCB for the MSGEQ7. I’m thinking of the “ExtraCore” arduino-compatible board that is on Kickstarter right now. Check it out if you haven’t seen it.
  6. Make some cables that allow quick setup / teardown, and ensure proper connections.
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    6 conductor, 18 gauge, with 6 pin DIN connectors - 20 feet

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    We called it "NYAN Cable!" (Click the picture if you don't get it...)

Stay tuned for more progress!

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