Create your own Beer Bottle LED Volume Unit Meter!

This instructable will show you how to create a LED beer bottle VU Meter. A volume unit meter is a device that is used to display a relative volume of audio signals. Basically, sound gets converted into electricity, then amplified and run into a dedicated IC (Integrated Circuit). The IC then determines the level of sound and outputs it accordingly onto its outputs. This particular VU Meter uses a LM3915 Dot/Bar Display Driver to determine the sound level. This circuit is more flexible than a regular VU Meter though, due to the fact that I incorporated a microcontroller into the project. This makes it a little more complex, but also way more flexible.

The main reason that I built this project is because I have always been fascinated with LEDs. There is just so many cool projects that a person can make with them. Also, a couple years ago I made a Chevrolet logo VU Meter which didn't use a microcontroller. Although it was really cool, there wasn't a lot that I could do with it once it was made. I had the options of bar mode or dot mode and that was it. With the help of a microcontroller, you can design a project so that you are able to turn on any individual LED or groups of LEDs at any of the 10 different sound levels. That makes things a little more challenging, but also more interesting.

By following each and every step, you will be able to complete your own beer bottle LED VU Meter just like this one. Or if you are feeling really ambitious, create your own customized LED VU Meter and just use this instructable as a guideline.

Step 1: Skills Required

This isn't a very difficult project to complete, however it does take quite a bit of time (especially if you make the PCB yourself). There are more than 330 drill holes in the PCB, 78 LEDs that have to be soldered into place and 224 SMD connections. Therefore you should possess the following skills:

- Basic knowledge of electronics
- Basic knowledge of boolean logic and digital circuits
- Know how to solder (This includes SMD parts)
- Know how to create a PCB
- Know how to program a PIC18F4550 microcontroller

- Know how to use a multimeter (This is used if you run into errors)
- Know how to program in C
- Know how to use the MPLAB IDE and the C18 compiler

With enough time and patience, anyone can complete this project. If you are looking at this project right now and thinking that it may be too difficult for you, take baby steps and start building the smaller circuits inside of the main circuit and get accustomed to them. For example, play around with the PIC18F4550 and get to know how it works. Then play around with the LM3915 so you know how to operate it, etc. The schematic may seem intimidating, but its really not. Like most electronic circuits, it is comprised of a bunch of smaller electronic circuits all linked together.
Can i get eagle files please?
I like this project so much!
This is FANTASTIC! Do you plan on making this into a solder kit? If you did i would easily pay 50 USD for it.
Perhaps in the future, but I won't create this version as a solder kit. The PCB is much too large and it uses components that it doesn't need. If I get time I will re-create the circuit and just use the ADC on the microcontroller to keep track of the sound level. Not sure if I will get any time soon to do that, but if I do I'll let you know.<br><br>Glad you liked it!
That would be great! Im not sure about other people, but I actually like the PCB size. Its easy to see the traces and where they go and what not.
The guy under me is a random spam comment.<br><br><br>Cool PROJECT! It seems you have put a lot of work into this one!<br><br>One question, Why use the LM3915 instead of the LM3916
The only reason why I used the LM3915 is because I had some on hand. Either of them would work. I believe the only major difference between the two is that the LM3915 has 3dB per step (-27dB to 0dB), whereas the LM3916 has -20dB, -10dB, -7dB, -5dB, -3dB, -1dB, 0dB, 1dB, 2dB, 3dB for its 10 steps. Thanks for the props!
Why use the LM391X instead of the ADC of the pic? sorry for my english.

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