How to Build a Luzboard (Electronic Instrument)

Picture of How to Build a Luzboard (Electronic Instrument)
This is an electronic instrument played similarly to a keyboard with some fun effects. A light sensor is attached to the computer that controls the timber (sound) of the pitches. You can play a chromatic scale from C to C in four octaves using the computer keyboard.
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Download Pure Data (PD)

Picture of Download Pure Data (PD)
Go to and download the program. It is compatible to linux, mac, and windows.

Step 2: Download the Luzboard Patch

This is the patch (file) of PD that I created that makes this electronic instrument work. When you download it, it will be fully functional and you don't have to do any of it yourself. Just download the file attached to this step and you'll have this patch on hand.

Step 3: Connect the Light Sensor

Picture of Connect the Light Sensor
You will need a light-controlled oscillator that can connect to the microphone jack of a computer. Plug it in to your computer, and then make sure it is the input source on PD. To do this, go to PD>preferences>audio settings. Then, make sure that built-in input is selected in the input device bar.

Step 4: Play the Instrument!

You are now ready to begin! First, click all the boxes that say "click here" and then make sure that you use the volume slide bar to turn on the volume. To play pitches, use the letters Q through I to play a C major scale (C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C). To play half steps use the numbers 2, 3, 5, 6, and 7. Notice that not every number is used because the keyboard keys are used like a piano keyboard. Note that you can only play one pitch at a time, so you can not play chords. To change octaves, use 9, 0, -, and =. 9 is the lowest octave and = is the highest. And finally, to change the timber of what you're playing, wave your hand over the light sensor. You can cover it, shine a light on it, just move your hand around it, and whatever else you can think of.

I find it most convenient to keep one hand over the light sensor and the other on the keyboard. Enjoy.

Email me with questions or comments!
gbone935 years ago
 i agree with Goodhart
Goodhart5 years ago
This needs a few more details, like where to you find or how do you make the sensor, and where do you plug it in....etc.