Introduction: Arduino EL Wire Controller (sound Activated)

This project consolidates working with sound to trigger el wire using an Arduino Pro Mini 3.3V with a circuit partly based on quasiben's 'Programmable LilyPad EL-Wire Dress.' A similar result can be obtained using one of the many sound activated pocket inverters such as this one sold at Adafruit. I wanted to gain some experience working with this type of circuit so chose to go the more expensive and aggravating route. Processing the audio signal was made easier with Julian4's code on the Sparkfun microphone breakout board product discussion here. Finally, this is the end result of my contribution to Humboldt Makers Group project share.

Parts list:
  • Arduino Pro Mini 328 3.3V/8MHz (Sparkfun)
  • 2 batteries Lipo 3.7v 150mAh, Lipo 3.7v 1200mAh (Adafruit)
  • USB/DC Lipo charger 5-12V (Adafruit)
  • inline power wire connector male (Adafruit)
  • High brightness white el wire 2.5 m (Adafruit)
  • EL inverter 3v (Sparkfun)
  • JST right-angle connectors, through-hole 2-pin (Sparkfun)
  • 4pin connector (male and female) from old CD drive
  • breakaway 0.1" 36-pin strip male header (Adafruit)
  • DPDT, SPTT switches scrounged from dead gear
  • 4n28 optoisolator
  • 2N6071 triac (Silicon Bidirectional Thyristor)
  • resistors (2) 470 ohm, (1) 330 ohm, (1) 1k ohm all 1/4W
  • push button and scrounged insulated wire (from audio cable 28 awg)
  • misc screws and nuts, Altoids-like tin

Step 1: Circuit

This circuit isolates the el-wire stage from the Arduino using the optoisolator. Starting with the el wire stage, the signal from the optoisolator is used to drive the triac gate which acts like a switch for the HVAC coming from the inverter. Pins 1 and 2 of JP6_INVERTER connect the DC side of the inverter to the larger (1200mAh) battery. Note that the pin 3 of JP6_INVERTER also connects to the NEG side of this battery. As explained in quasiben's instructable, all you need to excite the phosphorous on the el-wire is one of the two wires to be connected to an oscillating voltage (pin 4 of JP6_INVERTER tied to JP1 pin 1). The pin 2 of JP1 then is connected to MT2 of the triac which is connected to ground whenever the triac's gate is set HIGH with the optoisolator signal (ultimately coming from the digital pin 5 from the Arduino microcontroller). It is important to keep this stage isolated from the sensitive circuit of the Arduino because of the high voltage coming out of the inverter and noise emitted from the high frequency generated by the inverter.

The Arduino stage has an audio sensor (mic) that is connected to JP5_MIC and analogue input pin A0 on the microcontroller. To set the volume level at which the digital pin out 5 is set HIGH, I used an ON OFF ON switch with two digital input pins (3 and 4). This lets me set three levels of audio cutoff, by first checking if pin 3 is LOW (if Y then MED_AUDIO) otherwise if pin 4 is LOW (HIGH_AUDIO, least sensitive) otherwise use LOW_AUDIO (most sensitive). Finally, the microcontroller will cycle through a menu system by detecting S1 momentary button presses using an interrupt associated with digital pin 2.

Step 2: Arduino Code

Here is the code. The interrupt sets a flag (pbPress) and counter (menuState) between 0 - 4. Using While (pbPress == 0){}; I stay within one of the following menu items; Off, Audio, Flash Fast, Flash Slow, and On. Anytime the momentary switch is pressed an interrupt is fired, the menu is advanced one step and the pbPress flag is set to 1 which breaks the routine out of the existing loop and restarts the switch statement advancing to the next case with the next While loop. When the menu is on Audio, the microcontroller samples the audio signal on pin A0 and calculates if the signal is greater than one of three values held in the array cutOff[]. These values were determined empirically by trial and error with different levels of ambient sound. The item from cutOff[] that is used depends on the S2_AUDIO_LEVEL switch position corresponding to 0 - LOW, 1 - MED, and 2 - HIGH. Confusingly, the LOW corresponds to high sensitivity (low sounds trigger the el wire on) and so on.
int triacGatePin = 5;  // drive el inverter thru optoisolator controlling triac
int monitorPin = 0; //from microphone //for audio processing int digInputA = 3; //pins to check for audio switch position int digInputB = 4; //pins to check for audio switch position int cutOff[] = {70, 110, 260}; //value to compare peaktopeak with const int sampleWindow = 50; // Sample window width in mS (50 mS = 20Hz) unsigned int sample; unsigned int signalMax, peakToPeak = 0; unsigned int signalMin = 1024; int menuState = 0; // variable to be updated by the interrupt int pbPress = 0; int triacState = LOW; long previousMillis = 0; long flashInterval = 0; //variables to keep track of the timing of recent interrupts volatile unsigned long button_time = 0; volatile unsigned long last_button_time = 0; void setup() { pinMode(triacGatePin, OUTPUT); pinMode(digInputA, INPUT); pinMode(digInputB, INPUT); //enable interrupt 0 (pin 2) which is connected to a button //jump to the increment function on falling edge attachInterrupt(0, increment, FALLING); //turn on interrupt for pin 2 } void loop() { if (pbPress == 1){ pbPress = 0; switch (menuState){ case 0: //off while(pbPress == 0){ //wait for next pbPress delay(10); } break; case 1: //audio while(pbPress == 0){ int audioLevel = getSwitchState(); // collect data for 50 mS unsigned long startMillis= millis(); // Start of sample window while (millis() - startMillis < sampleWindow) { sample = analogRead(monitorPin); if (sample < 1024) // toss out spurious readings { if (sample > signalMax) { signalMax = sample; // save just the max levels } else if (sample < signalMin) { signalMin = sample; // save just the min levels } } } peakToPeak = signalMax - signalMin; // max - min = peak-peak amplitude if (peakToPeak > cutOff[audioLevel]){ //turn on led digitalWrite(triacGatePin, HIGH); }else{ digitalWrite(triacGatePin, LOW); } resetValues(); } break; case 2: //switch fast bink flashInterval = 120; while(pbPress == 0){ unsigned long currentMillis = millis(); if(currentMillis - previousMillis > flashInterval) { // save the last time you blinked the LED previousMillis = currentMillis; // if the LED is off turn it on and vice-versa: if (triacState == LOW){ triacState = HIGH; }else{ triacState = LOW; } // set the LED with the triacState of the variable: digitalWrite(triacGatePin, triacState); } } break; case 3: //switch slow blink flashInterval = 700; while(pbPress == 0){ unsigned long currentMillis = millis(); if(currentMillis - previousMillis > flashInterval) { // save the last time you blinked the LED previousMillis = currentMillis; // if the LED is off turn it on and vice-versa: if (triacState == LOW){ triacState = HIGH; }else{ triacState = LOW; } // set the LED with the triacState of the variable: digitalWrite(triacGatePin, triacState); } } break; case 4: //switch on triacState = HIGH; digitalWrite(triacGatePin, triacState); while(pbPress == 0){ //wait for pbPress delay(10); } triacState = LOW; digitalWrite(triacGatePin, triacState); break; } } delay(100); } // Interrupt service routine for interrupt 0 void increment() { button_time = millis(); //check to see if increment() was called in the last 250 milliseconds if (button_time - last_button_time > 250) { pbPress = 1; if (menuState == 4){ menuState = 0; }else{ menuState += 1; } last_button_time = button_time; } } //for audio processing void resetValues(){ signalMax = 0; signalMin = 1024; peakToPeak = 0; } int getSwitchState(){ int pin2 = digitalRead(digInputA); int pin3 = digitalRead(digInputB); if (pin2 == 0){ return 1; //Medium volume } if(pin3 == 0){ return 2; //High volume; }else{ return 0; //Low volume; } }

Step 3: Project Enclosure

I kludged this thing into a Altoids tin size box and almost got it all in there. The Arduino pro mini and circuit components were soldered on to donut perfboard which was held above the lid's metal surface with standoffs. The inverter was attached to the bottom and the two batteries just fit (actually had to make a small hole where the bottom of the tin curves to allow the more angular, rectangular edge of the larger (el wire) battery to fit. I wanted to leave the headers on the pro mini board so that I can change code and add features if needed. To make sure the FTDI pins, which stick straight up from the board (and when the tin was closed, straight down to the bottom of the tin where the batteries are placed), didn't puncture the Lipo battery, I cut them a bit shorter but still long enough to allow the FTDI basic from Sparkfun to make good connections. Initially, I had the momentary switch that is used for menu selection adjacent to the inverter. This was a mistake because the emf coming from the el stage of the circuit triggered the menu to advance when there were rapid on/off cycles of the el wire (when on audio mode or Fast Flash). Tried several ways to correct for this (internal pullup resister, keeping wires short as possible, etc) and finally used my shielded cable from an audio plug going straight out of the tin with the switch at the end. I would redesign this entirely to maintain distance and possible shielding between the two stages.
I also passed two wires out that connected to ground of each battery and use these along with the positive connection to the mic and a second positive connection in the last position of JP5_MIC (which is really a 4 wire connector, 3 for the mic and the extra to the el battery pos). This way, I can charge the batteries without opening the enclosure.

Step 4: Attaching El Wire to Garment

Just a note on the stitch. I used light fishing line and hot glue on each loop of a stitch with stiff fabric backing to attach the wires since the wire tended to bunch up the more pliable hoodie fabric. There are three separate el wire strands which were attached in parallel and connected to the inline power connector. Adafruit does a good job describing how to cut and solder el wire here. I tucked the connection for the el wire in the pouch of the hoodie along with the wire connecting to the mic which is located just inside the hood (to pick up voice first). The enclosure then connects to these wires and stays in the pouch. I can reach in and fumble around to switch on the device, change audio sensitivity and advance the selected menu item.

I have gotten 3 hrs on audio flashing el wire pretty continuously and the batteries had more life.

  • add rotary encoder to change audio level (instead of 3, could have 10 levels)
  • filter audio with low pass and high pass filters to select between different sound types (pitch, etc)
  • add additional optoisolators (w/ separate digital pin outs from Arduino) to control multiple el wire strands
  • photo resistor to drive el wire when light level drops

Now, if only I could dance like these two robot dancers!

Thanks to those who have helped (mentioned at the beginning of this instructable).


Mousepotato01 (author)2017-07-11

Can you please give a detailed discription of how you soldered it all together in a drawing or detailed schematic with instructions. I am working on a huge diorama with el wire hidden in silicone sculptures and need to make it dance to music I already have the arduino boards and sound sensores and 12 v invertors that come with el wire i need to knowq how to put this all together please help me.

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