Picture of How to Deal with Noisy Neighbors
My next door neighbors have recently been playing their music really loud so that I can hear it through the walls. I've gotten tired of having to bang on the walls each time to get them to quiet down, so I decided to automate some payback. The premise is that my device will listen for loud music playing through the wall, and when the volume breaks a pre-defined threshold and hears sustained music for 10 seconds it will start playing a CD player with annoying music and blast it back at them. After playing for a certain period of time it will pause the music and go back into monitoring mode. If the neighbors are still loud it will blast the music again and again indefinitely.

Watch the video to see the device in action!

Step 1: Supplies

I used the following items for this device:

1  Breadboard
1  Arduino  Uno
1  5v power source to power the Arduino (I powered it through USB from my laptop)
1  Electret microphone
1  Green 10 LED bar graph (individual LEDs will work too)
1  Red 10 LED bar graph (individual LEDs will work too)
1  Orange LED (or any other color)
1  NPN Transistor 2N3904 or similar
2  0.1uF capacitor
1  100k ohm resistor
2  10k ohm resistor
13 220 ohm resistor (Or whatever will run your LEDs at 5v)
1 CD player
2 Big ol' speakers
Connector wire

I ran out of outputs with the Arduino Uno so my volume meter only uses 2 of the red bars. An Arduino Mega would provide more outputs and make a better volume meter.
Niriqsha2 months ago
How did you connect the CD player to the arduino?
My CD player has 220v normal electricity connection while on the breadboard I have 5V due to Arduino.
So I can't figure how to play pause using Arduino. Could you explain?
thassaj3 years ago
Fantastic - I have had noisy neighbors over the years and have used various amusing techniques to get them to shut up. Borrowing the kilowatt linear amplifier from the local ham radio club was a winner: I put the VOX (voice operated switch) on to a sensitivity such that once the noise got annoying it would key up the transmitter in AM mode and overload the stereo. The guy "learned" not to turn up his stupid stereo, and finally took it into the shop where they said "nothing is wrong with your stereo" - he was enraged that they didn't believe him that whenever he turned it up there was this thundering bassy sound :-)

One guy played his TV too loudly so I wired some SN 7400 gates up with a capacitor to make an RF square wave oscillator with lots of nice harmonics. I just needed to tune the capacitor and poof - TV signal gone. Wouldn't work with cable obviously :-)

Would had been better to get one of those TV be gone switches. Turn it off on him when it is too loud.

Dude this was in the 1980s - no such thing as a TV be gone switch then (though the 7400 chip oscillator was close...)

atlantica3 years ago
Wouldn't it be easier to punch him in the face and tell him if he ever plays it loud again you'll be back angrier? One time fix. 0 Dollars.

Not a one time fix, would end up paying for it in more ways than one. Going to jail and being sued for damages.

Rather than punching him/her, would you not be better to borrow a dB meter and keep a record, so that you can have the neighbor charged with endangering your own hearing?
First, annoying noises are rarely loud enough to be dangerous. Second, there are surprisingly few legal remedies for noise pollution (especially if it's from a business)
Death Metal played at 90 dB isn't just "annoying".
Yeah, except that it's an assault and/or battery charge if they decide to report it.
And then when you wake up in hospital with multiple broken bones and permanent disfigurement, you're told by the police that the guy you punched is actually a long time boxer.
tmalta2 years ago
thassaj, t=your comment below....can you explain how to do this and what to buy to put it together? I need help....now, urgent!
thassaj says: Jun 14, 2012. 11:24 AMReply
Fantastic - I have had noisy neighbors over the years and have used various amusing techniques to get them to shut up. Borrowing the kilowatt linear amplifier from the local ham radio club was a winner: I put the VOX (voice operated switch) on to a sensitivity such that once the noise got annoying it would key up the transmitter in AM mode and overload the stereo. The guy "learned" not to turn up his stupid stereo, and finally took it into the shop where they said "nothing is wrong with your stereo" - he was enraged that they didn't believe him that whenever he turned it up there was this thundering bassy sound

I wish I had had your ingenuity. I asked everyone I knew for advice and everything failed. Smart, I agree with Honda 100 thumbs up.

sbrown95781 year ago

OMG, I had this problem. The kid next door played his stereo loud, living in a condo, the walls are thin and others didn't know exactly where the noise is from unless it is your wall that is vibrating, kept calling the cops on me. I tried something similar to what you are doing. It didn't work. The kid started turning his stereo on as loud as possible and leaving the house. His mom worked at the post office and one day when she came home I tried to talk to her about it but she just shrugged me off. Cops at the house several times pounding on their door. It made the noise that much louder. They never did anything about it. Unless the parents experience the same thing they aren't going to do anything. They moved out of their room and gave the kid access to the room closest to our adjoining wall. I couldn't even put my condo up for sale because any prospective buyers wouldn't even consider living next to them. I had many walk away. I ended up where I stopped paying my mortgage, lived there as long as possible and later filing bankruptcy. Bancruptcy sounds worse than it actually was. Nothing was as terrible as living there. I hope that kid grew up and had horrible neighbors like he was.

robot7971 year ago
did it help?
Honda Enoch2 years ago
I give this 100 thumbs up I hate annoying neighbors like that. I had some that lived under me that would blast their TV at 3am I started stomping around so hard it knocked their stuff off the walls and their light fell off the ceiling.
Try taking a Vibratory Sander, (with the sandpaper removed) mount the sander to a 3/16 thick 12"x12" steel plate. Then mount that steel plate to the wall or ceiling facing your neighbor’s unit. Now make a circuit that activates the sander “off beat” to the beat being projected by your neighbor. Now you have a wall, that will vibrate “off beat” to your neighbors tune, essential screwing up every tune he plays too loudly.
cybercapri3 years ago
People actually think that FREEDOM OF SPEECH extends to forcing others to listen to loud music and that is NOT THE CASE. Say what you want, just don't blast some crap music and think that everyone is going to enjoy it the way you do... Enjoy....
tealribbon13 years ago
what I want to know is how do i make one for the a holes across the street that blows his stereo at 3am.
Umm. No they can't blast the stereo at 3AM. That's against the law in just about every town in the USA and the UK. And if it's from a car boomer, well, if it's the state of Florida, you're going to get a ticket. Call the cops.
Same rig, but mount the speaker at the end of the feed horn of an old satellite antenna so it becomes a directional parabolic speaker. You might need a second satellite antenna to make the microphone somewhat directional so the system only responds to sounds from that direction (more or less), or set it up so your mic and speaker are in the same place, but the rig cuts off the mic when it's driving the speaker.
Personally, I could justify an EMP cannon in this instance. Make sure they can't drive off before the cops can arrive. :)
spikec3 years ago
Dude, this is freakin' awesome. Nice job!
ToddisI3 years ago
I can see not many people think your design is practical.... I however spent atleast the past 3 minutes laughing on the floor... this is funny because THEY will think your sitting there with a boom box or whatever waiting for them to jack up there tunes. I can see them while your at work thinking they will be able to get away with it... lol... snope..
Hazelip3 years ago
I would just call the cops.
cybergod3 years ago
Nice comment would be to say .. . it works. Yes, in theory and practice it works. Their music played, yours played too. To what end I don't know, theirs was STILL PLAYING.

Here's an idea, go next door and ask them to turn it down? If they don't I am sure the Police will come and issue a noise violation . . .

Yes, it works, nice setup, but I still think there are better ways.
Mirime cybergod3 years ago
Um yeah...... that works IF the offender isn't a marine celibrating the corps birthday and the cop that comes isn't also a marine a just takes the cd/ album away for the night..... knew a guy that had a brother that every year had a party for the corps and played the anthem untill dawn then would call up the "Kommondaunt" to wish him a Happy Birthday". Dang loud with 40 Marines next door....
He clearly says in the instructable that he's asked them multiple times to turn it down. I've had neighbors like this, too, and once you've tried being funny, polite, firm, _and_ angry, then calling the landlord and complaining until she calls him about it -- and he's STILL loud -- there's not much left to do in the diplomatic column. Not every police department inundated with noise complaints has the resources or energy to respond to all of them.
Teenner3 years ago
Hey Dude- I'm the neighbor from downstairs. Just wanted to let you know, there is one final flaw to your elaborate system: Now I have TWO inconsiderate neighbors playing loud music above my head. Should I get one of your sensors so I can be number three, or should I just keep a record of the noise you two keep carrying on with and properly report it to the appropriate parties?

Jus Sayin'-
NateHoy Teenner3 years ago
It would be hilarious if two neighbors built a system like this. :)
afm7123 years ago
Great Job Could it make silent dog whistle sound I have a very annoying ankle biter next door that goes berserk each time I open my door would like to be able to play sound at intervals when I am not around must be undetectable to the human ear.
Pa19633 years ago
A 40 hz test tone is really annoying. It's not really audible, but easily felt. Or, go to the other end of the spectrum. Depending on age, a high frequency tone is really annoying. There are web sites that demonstrate this. We tried this out at work. At my age (49) I couldn't hear a tone above 11-12 khz. A young woman, about 21 years old, walked into the office, with her fingers in her ears, trying to find the source of the painful screeching sound. Depending on the age difference between you and your neighbors, you may be able to set this so that they can hear it, but you can't. This might be a fun tool for a school teacher, or a librarian, or anyone else who deals with children.

Age and cunning will always emerge victorious over youth and innocence.!
Obviously my ear-care protocol during my teenage did me some good. I'm close enough to your age, and I could clearly hear 14.5kHz, 15+ I could hear start and stop but not the actual tone. I don't know whether to blame my ears or the sound system (cheap computer speakers).
The 'higher' pitch is probably harder to drive through the wall though. 40hz is much easier, but obviously harder on the drivers. Unless you want to put a sizable woofer in the air vent next to the neighbor wall. Then things might start getting real interesting.
olmon Pa19633 years ago
I always heard that ''Old Age and Treachery will always win out over Youth and Vigor'' I have used the 'high pitch' noise trick before, but just to aggravate my own kids.
AndyPipkin3 years ago
SSB cb radio works well, put antenna against the wall, key up and yell, can you turn the stereo down please, works a treat!
His plan will not work. The doubling of the noise will only irritate the neighbor with the gun and then everyone with a speaker is dead meat. Easier to just get earplugs, or work some white noise that appeals to your personal taste in noise to flood your dwelling with during the neighbor's fit of music. Otherwise, just move to a different building to a corner room where you have NO neighbors to deal with...
Totally disagree there, sorry. My mother took that approach and ended up living in the loungeroom on a mattress on the floor listening to her own TV through headphones.

I still like the idea of playing the offending material back at the offender, preferably at 4am.
Chi163 years ago
I had a similar incident some years ago with some downstairs apartment neighbors.

My solution was accomplished by using the following:
1) 75 Watt per channel stereo with volume almost to max (so I would not blow my amplifier or speakers).
2) CD player, with recording of Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture (paused/cued up to about 10 seconds before the cannon's go off).
3) Pair of Big 18" 3-way speakers placed with front side face down against my floor.

When their music go too loud next time, I just un-paused the CD and let it "rip" until the cannons were done firing. Paused CD re-cued back to just before start of cannons again, waited a minute and NEVER had to do use it again!
Pml!!! That is just so "Clockwork Orange". I love it. Just thinking... I could do that with 1600 watts.
Here's the next step:
Use a small microphone to record what they're playing, and use a surface transducer mounted on the wall to play their own audio back at them, but delayed by .7 second.

They will go insane in short order.

you'll need to record from a position far away from your own transducer to avoid a feedback loop, but putting a hole in your own wall (.5"), and putting the mic in the wall hopefully right behind their audio source will do it. Just isolate the mic with some foam around the cord where it touches the wall. Put your transducer as far away as you can while still being on the shared wall.

I know this will work. Really.
This is exactly my thought. It doesn't have to be music. It can be domestic arguments, the sport on TV, anything that is disruptive. I like the .7 second delay, but then you have to filter that out of your own input, else you'll get a feedback loop that could turn into an increasing echo instead of decreasing.
LMFAO! Have it playing them cussing themselves trying to figure out what's going wrong would be the icing on the cake as well! It almost makes for a sitcom.
jimmytvf3 years ago
This is a good system, but music vs music isn't a good idea, i though in this: search his phone number on the phone book, or call to get it, then, adapt this system, instead to the CD player, to an old cellphone which has fast dial, you can hide your number, and when he plays the music, it will automatically call infinite times until the neighbor turn the music down. :D
jayb13 years ago
I have a solution that works great. It's called, "Scotts Grey Pipes & drums" played at a higher level. Warn the neighbours first. ;-)
jimmytvf jayb13 years ago
+1, better than who let the dogs out, or maybe some galician style music :D
jimr777773 years ago
I have not tried this myself, but theoretically it should work if you can send the same audio back to them 180 degrees out of phase. It would cancel the noise altogether. Use a microphone to sample a few seconds of the noise they are sending you. Then replay their noise back at them. Experiment with your speaker polarity until the noise sounds "dead". This is basically the same thing those noise-cancelling headphones do. It's not an exact science, but might be something to try-- and might make the whole thing sound unbearable for you and your neighbor!

And I would not worry about loud 40hz tones and the fabled "death from low tones". Mythbusters found no damage to human tissue (other than eardrums, obviously :-)) in their tests.
Gunther453 years ago
While I would just go over tell them to lower it. And if it's for when you are not at home then why do you care? If it's for when you are at home then you have to listen to your load music, seams like it defeats the point.

I would offer a few suggestions although I like the premise of the Instructable.

1) Find the studs in the wall. I know some will say I rent, thats what Spackle and paint are for.
2) Get large Bass speakers either from your speakers are search for the largest you can find cheap.
3) Make a frame with speaker and mount it to the studs facing offending neighbors. Frame should be thick enough to support vibrating speaker but close to wall as possible. you might even be able to add some sound dampening around the speaker to be less annoying to you.
4) look for a cheap amp, Mono is even better , You only care about the low end.
5) then hook up your system. Most of the annoying low end should be directed at the Annoying Neighbors
6) See if you can find old MODEM Connecting sounds or something, Don't blast music back, Blast annoying sounds.
I like your idea - I've seen "sonic transducers" which are little more than the motor of a speaker/woofer with screw mounting points & can be powered off of a small amplifier. Mounting those would be easier than hefting 40lb drivers onto your wall studs and be just as effective...especially if you could tune them to the resonant frequency of the structure!
Many public libraries have a record collection. Our local library has quite a few sound-effects recordings - many, many 30-60 second tracks of all kinds of sounds. Imagine, if you will, the effect of the skritchi-skritchi patter-patter of something like mice inside the walls. It wouldn't have to be loud, but like the random beeps mentioned by another poster, it certainly would be irritating, and almost impossible to trace back to you, the neighbor.
As above:

1) Plain old 60 Hz hum. (Don't plug your speaker into the wall socket, though!)
2) The sound of a "whistling kettle" coming to a boil on a stove and left shrieking for a minute or two.
3) A noisy, clattering old refrigerator. Mic it close to the compressor.
4) The sound of a ringing telephone, at random intervals through 24 hrs.
BINGO!!! The old 60 cycle, ground lift hum. Drives me up the wall! Dripping water. Mosquito buzz, distant chain rattle, ignorant little sounds that you wouldn't think would bug you - put on repeat - psychological warfare.

I've said too much...
I completely agree with Gunther45.

I think this retaliation system is an excellent idea in that it can be customized to different annoying retaliations. Perhaps you could rig it up to dial their phone when it detects loud music - that way you aren't blasting music yourself and they will either get annoyed by their phone going off all the time or figure out to turn down their music.

I'm very passive, so personally I would try to be more diplomatic. Creamaster's idea of email the landlord is a very good one too. Perhaps you could set your arduino to simply tally up the time they blast loud music, and then at the end of the week you could send an update to your landlord and insert the exact amount of time they've been annoying neighbors.

I definitely got a kick out of this 'ible, though! Thanks for sharing.
The phone dialing bit is genius. Maybe combine that with a recorded voice asking them nicely to please turn down the volume.
That's assuming the LL will do anything about it. And if it's before 10:00 at nite in most areas, he won't.
deaks3 years ago
I just remembered reading something about transmitting your music to their speakers. I stumbled upon this a while back, but since I have no neighbors, I never got a chance or reason to try it:

Quester553 years ago
Something to think about, But don't get Caught. Connect a Tap switch into your neighbors phone line, add an auto dialer ( From Radio-Shack ) to the line, With the local; ( PICK ONE- Police number, City Morgue, Abortion Clinic, Catholic Church, General Hospital, ETC...
You get the idea? Instead of your switch turning your own amp & Music, Your neighbors NOISE will be their own, " WATERLOO ".
incidentals3 years ago
Have you considered anti-noise, playing back their noise 180 degrees out of phase and "killing their sound".
That sounds awesome. I wonder if you could use it on people who talk too loud on public transport?! Would certainly spin them out.
Please make it and tell us how! :-)
That sounds brilliant. And less likely to get the cops called on you. Automate it so it happens even when you aren't around and perhaps they will learn or perhaps in attempting to getting their loud sound back they will blow out their speakers.
DavidNZ3 years ago
haha love this idea but why not make a EMP cannon and aim it at them? :P
In this Day and Age an EMP is Crime against Humanity! The Unibomber may disagree but not many other people! Certainly not me. I would say EMP is a NO!
lyonpridej3 years ago
Some people just don't care who they bother - and some people do it out of pure hatefulness! I had this problem 23 years ago when I lived in a place that was a big square divided into 4 apartments. One neighbor would blast their heavy metal music as loud as they could every weekend, & it didn't do any good that the tenents in the other 2 apartments had already asked them to turn it down several times & complained to the landlord with no results. It started every Friday night & continued until Sunday evening. It wasn't the music I didn't like, I did(I like nearly everything), it was the loudness that went on for hours every day! I couldn't watch tv, talk on the phone,read,nothing - and worse, I had 2 smal children who couldn't slee. So one Saturday morning before they started, I turned my speakers (The old kind in the big, wood frames) around against their wall, set my stereo to an old fashioned country/bluegrass station, then turned the volume up as high as it would go (didn't bother me, I like that kind of music also). I played it for an hour, until I head then leave their apartment! That night, they turned their music on again, as loud as ever. I was ready, I turned mine back on too.My speakers were louder than theirs, so I won, they had to listen to it over their music. They turned theirs down, I turned mine down, they turned theirs back up, I did too! They learned REAL fast, they stll kept playing their music, but they kept it at a tollerable level that didn't bother everyone around them....and I kept mine turned down too!
Sorry for the typos, my fingers are stiff. Anyway, the memory of everything in my apartment shaking & vibrating from the bass still agitates me! Just like the cars that pull up to the light next to me that have their music turned so loud with the loud bass.- I keep wishing someone on here would invent a remote control button that you could click that would disable their stereo momentarily until they aren't anywhere near me. Sometimes I've even wished for something that would fry their stereo altogether! A couple of weeks ago, at a gas station, a man pulled up to a pump, with bass blasting rap music, got out of the car with the engine running & windows down & went into the store to pay - guess he wanted to hear his music in the store? I was wishing someone would come steal his car!
Has it yielded any results yet???
Bubbler3 years ago
Get a recording of some orchestra playing a lot of calssical music say by Stravinsky. Put that on when the neighbours finally think they had enough music for one day. Stravinsky is annoying more than any other composer to non classical type music fans.

It appears that your neighbours are sociopaths. Try not to join them in that classification, and seek police help concerning noise abatement. Otherwise this is a great Instructable that could be used for far better applications.
What a project ! Absolutely a great use of your time to tackle the frustrating problem of idiot neighbors . I sent the link for this to a friend that has a jack ?ss neighbor and could benefit from this .

You did a terrific job from start to finish . I made the opposite project a while back. I looked for silence ( no audio ) on a TV channel for a period of about 15 seconds to trip a reset function . It was a challenge to figure it all out , so I know what you must have went through . thanks for sharing !!


Open Source ...teaching those who yearn to learn...
Arduino RULES !!!
There are stories of the military doing research on sound waves in the <1 cps that turns the contents of ones bowels into a liquid state immediately.

Just a rumor that probably shouldn't be tried at home.....
I worked on related stuff for some years. The French were experimenting with sub sonics and everyone in the room died when they turned on their unit. Others have tried beaming subsonic sound for weapons because it does destroy internal organs. The problem is low frequencies tend to go everywhere and through everything so they are hard to control.

Try sitting in a room with a boom box for a while and you will most likely get very uncomfortable in your stomach area. I was once at an exhibition where they were showing off monster boom boxes fitted in cars. My niece got physically sick and every time they turned it on most people in the exhibition hall left.
There is such research, and sub-hertz audio does make people very uncomfortable - we built a sub 1-Hz rig for experimenting in another area. It was extremely nasty to be around, even with ear defenders. Whether their bowels turn to water I don't know - perhaps it depends on the intensity. I do know that it's not a trivial exercise to make it work properly at a stable frequency.
that's actually not new - nicolai tesla already found that one out, lol.
Skywoolf3 years ago
I thought about doing something like this and use Chinese opera music. To anyone other than a Chinese it is horrible wailing and crashing of cymbals with no rhythm.

Alternatively ghostly whispering and other similar sounds during the night.
valcider3 years ago
Brilliant! Could not have done better myself!
ansil3 years ago
love it love it love it. had a similar problem but lived in an apartment where all the power wires came in through the high wall and was accesable throught he ceiling. apparently we all shared the same roof really bad idea but whatever. anyway they would play their "music" so loud i waited till they were gone and my buddy crawled up there and wired an industrial light switch so that when the music when too loud i flip a switch and their lights in the apartment would go out. they would get the flashlight and go check the breakers all while their music is still playing. i think yours is a lot smoother though
Wille B3 years ago
Great idea in theory, bad idea when it comes to karma or balance in the world.

I might suggest finding another solution, one that leads by example and improves our world, rather than continuing the stupidity of the lowest common denominator.

It would seem you have the smarts, use them for good, not evil...
I'd love to hear some of your real world suggestions.
Creamaster says:
Since this is supposed to be a positive forum, let me suggest that you should use your smarts and Adruno to send an email or a tweet to the landlord/web/log, showing how often the neighbours play their music too loud as proof, not punishment. Also, you should set that decibel level to whatever the legal limit is, not your own personal preference.

I think this is a much better solution. Not mine, but user Creamaster. Credit where credit is due.

Vet to vet, thanks for your service!
jaydoo983 years ago
Maybe you should have used Mm-bop instead of Who let the dogs out. It worked for the US gov't. in Central America...........
lesparza33 years ago
I like the concept of your instructable. Well done!

But as mentioned earlier, folks who feel like its their right to bother the rest of the world, wont listen. What I would suggest, is you do a little surveylance. Find out what stereo or TV they have and get yourself a universal remote that is compatible with their system. Then you can trigger the appropriate code and either turn up the volume even more, (so they get in trouble with more people and the land lord is forced to do something about it) or you can turn the volume down yourself...

Can you imagine if you turn on their own stereo or TV late at night and blast it? LOL!!! Do it on a weekend, so you can enjoy it and still have time to sleep...
When I was in the Marine Corps we lived in three man rooms at the barracks. One time we got a roommate that worked nites. He would bring his friends into the room at zero dark thirty and sit there like we weren't sleeping or anything. The next day I came home for lunch with my tool box and an electric engraver and started engraving my initials on all of my sockets. I put the sockets on the wooden chairs for extra support (and buy that I mean noise) When I came back after work he was already moved out.

I still have those sockets and think about that every time I see those initials, good times.
AmyLuthien3 years ago
Reminds me of the "polka wars" my mother started with some noisy campers that parked next to us one year when I was a kid. They were playing their music loudly, and after the third time my folks had to ask them to turn it down (it was 1:00a) my mother whipped out her 8-track, stuck in her polka tapes and cranked the volume all the way up. The noise was horrendous . . . :D
I like! If that were installed in my house, I'd probably be carrying a tray of food, while at the same time a cockroach would be scratching the mic and next thing WHO LET THE DOGS OUT!!!! food everywhere!
and7barton3 years ago
Similar to an idea I once had, except thaty MY method played back the same sounds as the neighbour was sending out, with a 1/2 second delay on it. If they turned their noise down, my system got quieter too. So they never actually realised that they were being got at. Their tendency would be too automatically lower their own volume as they assumed the entire noise was emanating from their own system.
An interesting idea. Did you try other delays, or was the 1/2 second just a good guess?
The half-second delay was just something I did to mess with their enjoyment of their noise a bit. I simply used my big 100W guitar amp with a echo/reverb pedal plugged into it and a microphone stuck against the wall in the loudest spot. You have to shield the microphone against feedback from your amp.
Wow, that is a million dollar idea!
kevinhannan3 years ago
I had this problem some years ago and I had a very simple solution.

Using BASIC, I programmed a simple loop in which a note of 1kHz (the time clock pips) of random duration between 0.5 and 3 seconds with another random duration of 1-120 seconds. It was not possible to guess how many beeps would be heard nor the length of them or the timing in between. The neighbours went nuts after just one day of it played through an amplifier.

Yes, that's how wars get started, and in this case, won. Diplomacy didn't work andsometimes you just gotta fight fire with fire - it's all some people understand.
I meant to say the frequency of the note was not changed so they became attuned to what to listen for.

If you don't get how effective this is, have a go with yourself!
The sound of a ringing telephone, at random intervals throughout the day and night, has much the same effect. As to the beeps, visit any hospital and the irritation factor of those becomes clear right away. They don't even have to be loud.
An addendum: some other sounds that might be looped and put through Kevinhannen's idea:

1) Plain old 60 Hz hum. (Don't plug your speaker into the wall socket, though!)
2) The sound of a "whistling kettle" coming to a boil on a stove and left shrieking for a minute or two.
3) A noisy, clattering old refrigerator. Mic it close to the compressor.

lcreed3 years ago
Perhaps a different approach is in order. The current thinking is to fight noise with more noise. This simply makes both apartments difficult to live in. Would it be possible to use noice canceling technology to alter or cancel out the offending noise. This would be beneficial in a couple of ways. One it would reduce the noise. Second the rude person with the rude stereo may think that there stereo is defective and buy another one. This would cause them time and money. If it is technically possible limit the stereo to some limit, say 50 Db or it silences it entirely. Just an idea. I would like to know what others think of the concept.
I was thinking that as well, but I am no audio expert.
Here is why I think it would not work.
1) The sound that he is hearing if a muffled Bass sound, why it might be able to reverse the sound it would only effect his place not so much the annoying neighbors.
2) I don't know if it easier to negate hi's or lows, that's for an audio expert. So don't know how well it would work.
3) You would be talking sampling and reverse playback very quick, which sounds like expensive hardware.
Now on a somewhat promising although rather disturbing note: I did see a show on non lethal technology and there is at least one company ( probably more ) that is making a directional sound system that does this very thing to be used on Protesters ( Apparently The Right to Free Speech does not guarantee The right to be Heard), I don't know how far they are but on the documentary it looked like it might already be in place.
Noise canceling like those expensive headphones must be possible, especially if you use a computer to process and generate the reverse amplitude sounds. I think that would be pretty awesome, and it would be useful while at home too.
I don't think it's too complex. If it were, these big companies wouldn't be able to "afford" putting the circuit into $100-200 headphones. AFAIK, there's no "sampling" involved (referring to digital sampling), but rather a mic preamp (which this project already has) with an inverting stage (to put out the opposite waveform from what is being "heard" by the mic). I believe this can be done with standard op amps. Some care has to be taken to avoid phase shift in the path, otherwise you'll end up adding to the noise instead, but that's not too difficult to prevent. I might be overlooking something in this equation though.

The CCRMA program at Stanford U has done some really astounding work in echo cancellation which is a similar (but definitely more complex) process. I can't find a video of a demo for the life of me, but if you ever come upon it, it will blow your mind.
If you could take their "music" and generate the same sound at the same time but 180 degrees out of phase, it would indeed cancel the noise. Active headphones used by target shooters work on exactly this principle, although they are dealing with a small band of frequencies in the "bang".

The trick, of course, is that your inverse sound must be generated with a very, very small delay, and that means sensors and electronics that respond extremely fast, and over a wide range of frequencies, for music. An interesting problem for a technically-minded neighbor.....
a few suggestions (as alternatives to blasting back music):
1. if you know they have a shelf on one of their walls see if you can pump out some low frequency sound right up against it, maybe knock some stuff off the shelf.
2. siren noises. lets face it if you hear a cop's siren coming in your wall you will duck and hide whatever you are doing.
3. use the mic for a second use get some feedback going.
4. explosions from a really intense movie over and over again
5. 8-bit music.
6. have it trigger an emp generator and you can just shut down their system instead of competing with it (most people will not be able to figure out what it is and just buy a new stereo)
Kristow43 years ago
Excellent project! I think you should blast the theme song from Sesame Street. Could you send me one of those? Thanks for the idea.
Creamaster3 years ago
Why would you do this?

If you're not in the apartment who cares if the neighbour makes noise? And aren't you doing EXACTLY the thing you dislike them doing, but in a new and even more annoying manner? At least they're enjoying their music. Your soul purpose here is to annoy. Of your intention is to upset others, you need to reassess your thought process. If I was the landlord dealing with these two tenants, you'd be the one I evicted.

You're lucky if the neighbours don't escalate this situation. This is such a stupid idea. Will I be reading an instructable next week on how to beat someone up without leaving any bruises - posted by your neighbor? I hope not.

Remember, you have to live with these people, not against them.
Since this is supposed to be a positive forum, let me suggest that you should use your smarts and Adruno to send an email or a tweet to the landlord/web/log, showing how often the neighbours play their music too loud as proof, not punishment. Also, you should set that decibel level to whatever the legal limit is, not your own personal preference.

I don't want to read about this story in the papers eh.
As you can read elsewhere in this thread, I did a similar thing a long time ago, in the days before Arduinos and PC's. I agree with you that it is unwise and undesirable to have the situation escalate to fistfights or worse forms of violence.

Unfortunately, people who follow the rules and the "norms" of a polite society often have their lives interfered with by those who don't give a hoot about rules, courtesy, or pretty much anything else. There's sometimes no real answer to that, unless they move or you do, Sad but true.

I believe it was Robert. A. Heinlein who said that one of the first signs of a dying culture was the disappearance of good manners.
Now this is a really smart idea!

Thanks Creamaster for a truly good solution that will probably lead to something positive!

The point of doing it when you aren't in the apartment is tat then you don't get driven mad by the 'annoying music' you're playing, BUT you train the neighbours - while you're out. I have a problem just with the rasping penetrating non-stop talking of a neighbour on his terrace until all hours in the summer. He refuses (I asked) to respect the fact that I can't sleep (in the otherwise silence of the mountain night) but when I put podcasts (football commentary from the BBC in Chinese!) he called the police!!!
In school we were taught to use the enemy’s assets against them and then attack at their most venerable point and in this case it is their appreciation of their loud and annoying music.
I had a next door neighbor that liked loud music. I had an amplifier/receiver thing that I used to run my turntable (33/45/78, remember?), an average pair of wooden encased floor speakers and I got a microphone. I made a megaphone out of cardboard, coated the inside with tinfoil and put it tightly against the common wall so it would feed the sound into the microphone. I laid the speakers tightly against our common wall and hooked everything up to the receiver. I turned the base and the treble all the way up and turned the ‘midrange’ knob all the way down. When they would start playing their loud music I would slowly turn up my amp until their music sounded simply awful and they would turn their music completely off. Then I would turn my amplifier off until the next time they started playing their music. Soon they stopped playing the music and I hoped they thought something was wrong with their equipment and kept replacing the components until they just gave up or went completely broke.
Since we are now in the 21st century, I guess someone that knew what they were doing could do a better job using the technology of ‘noise canceling headphones’, but I don’t know anything about all that new stuff. Good luck,
Slatu3 years ago
Great idea and execution, and I offer 2 solutions:
1) Just blast Tom Jones when you wake up in the morning. They might realize not everyone enjoys their music.
2) Let them have their fun when you are at work. Proceed with your original plan with "Who let the dogs out?".
Trike Lover3 years ago
An interesting concept. I spent many years living in apartments with various neighbors, some of whom were cooperative regarding noise, and some not.
I would always first a) ask them politely to turn down the volume, b) speak to my landlord and, if the loud music was accompanied by large crowds of noisy drunks, contact my local police service regarding all-night parties, etc.

I did find that rather than play "modern" music at thumping volumes, I had much greater success using the old masters, particularly Beethoven's 5th and 9th symphonies, or Opera. Classical music and Opera is anathema to most head-bangers, (I'm not overly fond of it myself) and usually only a couple of doses were required to get the message across. Sometimes, a Sunday morning concert of church organ music, Beethoven, or Luciano Pavarotti arias, following a Saturday night ruckus next door, would make the point.

Cat stepped on the keyboard and cut off my response.

Anyhow, in one extreme case while in grad school (this is pre-PC, pre-Arduino days), I borrowed a mic and calibrated decibel meter and an auto-advance 35mm camera with a remote shutter from our research lab. The sound meter had some handy features - a plug-in paper strip-chart recorder (I can hardly believe we used to use such things) with a mechanical time/date-stamp, and a level-adjustable "trigger" that closed a switch connected to an external jack. It has originally been used to measure noise of aircraft on landing approach over residential neighborhoods

I breadboarded a 555 timer circuit from the "555 Cookbook" that was triggered by the sound meter and started two timers and a switching circuit.

When the audio level exceeded the legal limit for residential noise (I think it was 85 dB) for 120 seconds or more, the 555 board would trip the camera shutter & take a photo of the db meter, a 24-hour clock borrowed from my ham shack, and a calendar, then advance one frame. (I think I also put the front page of that day's newspaper in the shot as well). When the noise level dropped below the limit mark for 2 minutes or more, a second photo would be taken giving a duration. The strip chart gave corroboration of sound levels.

After about 2 weeks of "evidence gathering", I took the pictures and charts to the landlord. The neighbors were well known to our neighborhood police station for loud parties, so an obliging local copper came along. Presented with specific evidence of times, dates, and noise levels, the landlord decided to evict the noisy neighbors, rather than be cited for "maintaining a public nuisance.

This was a non-confrontational way of dealing with the situation, and given the atmosphere of the times, I'd use something similar today if the need ever arose.
Assuming you are in an apartment if you share a wall.

I've used the following method to be successful: Whenever they play music extra loud, go to the outside breaker box and flip off the power to their unit. Quickly walk back into your apartment before they come out. If you do this consistently, you can condition them to think that their loud music is drawing too much power and flipping the breaker.
I did same thing but them became really violent people and I had a "direct" confrontation with them. I'm waiting for an Instructable on EMPs.
diy_bloke3 years ago
haha very good device. I used to have noisy neighbours once: would come home late and then play loud music till 3 a.m. My answer was to start playing loud music at 9 and then they came complaining 'they were still sleeping'. Some people think they own the world
macwhiz3 years ago
For anyone that wants to do this but doesn't have large speakers or amplifiers, check Craigslist for either and Parts-Express for woofers, you can get decent 15" woofers for under $20 shipped each
JWEngland3 years ago
I've always had this fantasy about having a small directional EMP that I could use for "turning down" offending stereos. Every time it gets to loud, zap....
I share this fantasy. All the more fun when it's an offending car parked right outside ones house.
Same, I get alot of loud cars passing my house as I live across from a school. Time to invent a small highly directional EMP
ghatch3 years ago
I heard somewhere that a really effective way of re-educating a noise polluter is to feed it back to them at a slight delay. Perhaps a device that records and plays it back with a 1 second delay. Feedback.
hammer98763 years ago
I like the idea of replaying their own music with a slight delay. Their music goes up too loud? They get an odd delay. Not too loud? It sounds right. ("Gee, there must be something wrong with our equipment.")

I was thinking of creating a false wall between your living area and theirs. Like the thickness of a 2 by 4. Install lots of insulation as a noise barrier.

Okay, while you are building it, go ahead and insert a couple of big, thin speakers in there, also and rig up that delayed feedback thing.
I love you idea. Especially the automatic feature that works even when you are gone. I had the same problem several years ago. To get back at my neighbors I got a freeware tone generator for my computer and played a really low hertz bass tone at full volume into a sub woofer placed next to the wall between our apartments. I adjusted the tone until I got the wall to resonate. It was really loud and with the wall resonating it was impossible to tell where it was coming from. It sounded like the whole building was experiencing an earthquake. It worked great, but annoyed me as much as it did them. Also, they never seemed to get the connection between my bass note and their music. Your idea works great and gets the point across. I say go for it. Also, I'll bet many of your critics don't live in multi-family units with neighbors like you have. Let them deal with noise like that for hours on end and they will be pull out the big woofers too. Being nice only works when there is respect on both sides of the apartment wall.
foobear3 years ago
So many times have thought and dreamed about this... thank you!
Noisy neighbors truly are a nuisance. I just recently read this article which describes the science behind a lot of ghost sightings. Part of it includes a study that outlines how ultra-low frequencies (which are not audible) can produce feelings of dread or terror in people. This would be a truly subtle way of dealing with this problem--perhaps if every time they blast their music they were overcome with an unexplainable feeling of dread, then they might stop...just a thought that might work with your setup.
That sounds rather devious, I like it.
Set up some infrasound and start a rumour about ghost sighting.

Maybe research old local newspaper archives for any suitable events to give a bit of substance to the rumours, though that would probably not be needed.
Spokehedz3 years ago
Wow. There are SO MANY people on here who are happy to hand the responsibly over a small issue between neighbors to someone else and maybe get the authorities involved?


People who do this--not respect their neighbors--do not understand or care about the consequences of having loud music. Or leaving garbage next to the door. Or not taking in their mail for months. Or any of that other stuff that they do that normal people don't do. They don't care if they get kicked out of their apartment, as they most likely only have that big stereo as their only worldly possession and they are on some sort of government assistance anyway so they will get kicked out of one place and then move into another no problem. I live next to two people who fight CONSTANTLY and I have called the police on them because it was 1AM and I had to go to work in 4 hours. How many times have I personally called the cops on them? 3 times. How many times have I called the apartment complex? 4 times. How many times have I personally gone over there and given them a verbal thrashing? 5 times. 5 TIMES!

Clearly, the apartment complex doesn't want them out as they are paying rent which is how they make money. So they just tell them to quiet down... Which they do for like 2 days. Then it is back to fighting and throwing things around in the apartment and slamming the door over and over and over...

Clearly, the police can't do anything because even if they saw him hitting her she would just not press charges and then they just wasted their time. And frankly, I think that they should be out doing better things like arresting people who are murdering people rather than responding to a domestic abuse call...

So clearly I am the only person who cares enough to do anything about the situation so I am doing the only thing I can. And if that is playing music back at them, then so be it. If that is going over to the apartment and yelling at them to shut up and stop living together if you truly cannot stand one another, then so be it. If that is taking the garbage that they leave next to their door for 4 days when the garbage chute is right down at the end of the hallway and opening the bag and dumping it in front of their door, so be it. If their dog constantly tears up the side by their door whenever he goes out and they laugh about it each and every time so that makes me plant sticker and thorny plants by their side, so be it.

Because some neighbors aren't looking for anything logical, like peace and quiet. They can't be bought, bullied, reasoned, or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.
rickets3 years ago
not really contributing but when i was a teenager there was a fire at home and the insurance company put the family in a condomineum.
one side no neighbors, the other side some people of color.
they liked to play their music REALLY loud(literally knicknacks falling off the shelves). so one day the limit was reached and my brother put his speakers(the size of a medium chest freezer) up against the wall, put on the dark side of the moon album at almost max volume on replay, and we left for the day(around 6-8 hours).
needless to say nothing was ever heard from them the rest of the time we were there
laferte3 years ago
You want something really annoying? Try an audio test tone - the kind you can find on some DVDs with THX calibration tests. Nothing like a 440 Hz tone blasting through a wall. Even pro editors will get crazy after a couple of minutes of a test tone blasted at them! :-)
kwxj61b3 years ago
That's not a solution. You should've build something that produce a wave which will short circuit their speaker or the stereo system.
0_Nvd_03 years ago
Let's wait till your neighbor finds out this instructable. :D
t.rohner3 years ago
That's how wars get started ;-)

To return their own basses, as said by other commenters makes sense.

There are also so called rumblers or shakers. These are more or less loudspeakers without membranes.
They use whatever you mount them as membranes.(Your neighbours wall)

Luckily my neighbours live in their own houses.
jonmash3 years ago
While I don't agree with the premise of your device (Should we really fight war with more war?), I do have a tip:

You mentioned that you didnt have enough pins to power all of the LEDs but you have 5 pins that are not connected. It wont fill all of the LEDs but at least you can get a bit more range. Solution: You can use your analog input pins as digital output pins too. D14 (A0) through D19 (A5).

Remag12343 years ago
Here's my comment: cut the sheet rock and place the speakers between the studs along with the mic. Set the timer for 3AM and use heavy insulation to muffle the sound on your side. I doubt that the annoying music will bother your neighbor, use Fax tone, any screeching animal sound, an oogaa horn, train and or big rig horn blasts. Go away for a few days. That should cure them.
What might be more effective than just blasting random music back at them is using the mic to play back their own bass but on a delay. It would
A) be their own music and
B) the delay would ruin whatever song they were listening to.
Benadski3 years ago
Oh, and if this doesn't work, hook this system up to their doorbell, if music too loud, automatically ring doorbell. This maybe even works better, but you must have some central access to the doorbells.
Benadski3 years ago
If you really want annoying music, look for "draaiorgel" on youtube! ;-)
When I was a kid, one of my friends came from a "loud family". They spoke at very high volumes very quickly without them even noticing.

They eventually got some device that pinged when a certain decibel was reached to try to make them aware of their own behaviour. You could totally use this for that.
1arrow243 years ago
Haha, i love this. I have a neighbour that likes to make me listen to their music. I usually just blast some iron maiden, they hate that.
BTW, yes i've asked the fool to turn it down SO many times.
boogaloo3 years ago
What did the neighbors say when you confronted them?
danzo3213 years ago
This sounds like a problem between apartments. A better Instructable might look at ways to sound-proof the wall.
Whist your Instructable is VERY CLEVER and well thought out you did not mention if you had simply ASKED your neighbor if they would mind turning the volume down?

In the past I have gone next door and then asked the neighbor to come and listen to the amount of noise I was hearing on my side of the wall. In MOST cases the neighbor does not realise what was happening and was willing to turn the sound down so that I did not have to listen to their choice in music.

On the RARE occasions when good neighborly manners have not prevailed I have simply turned my heaviest speakers against the wall and whilst pushing the very beginning of Queen's "We are the Champion's", the very heavy BASS BEAT part, on a loop, through my 120W mini PA system. On one occasion I had to do this over and over for 3 days every time the neighbor turned up their stereo until they got the hint.

I think that if you leave your system armed and active whilst you are out then you may run into some noise complaints yourself......

Lets face it, if your not there what does it matter how loud they play their music?
woodyardboy3 years ago
Inventive, but two wrongs don't make a right (as my Granny used to say). If your neighbors cat defecated in your garden, you wouldn't jump over the fence and defecate in theirs (or maybe you would?). You could try looking into Tort law and the issuing of commercial liens. I hope you find a lasting solution, having noisy neighbors is quite horrible.
bartprg3 years ago
Great! Super instructable and wonderful funny video.
Marrock3 years ago
I'd just use a loud thumping bass sound that'd have a similar effect to banging on the wall without having to worry about losing your security deposit.
rimar20003 years ago
Interesting. Some people do not attend reasons, think they own the world. With them, you must do something this.
I know what means having troubling heigbours... and they think as you said, the world is for them and they are in the center. When you are days and weeks without good resting due to annoying neighbours, things change.. and usually to more aggressive. Diplomacy doesn't work with this kind of people just a punch.

So, i found very interesting this device... or the idea itself. :D
jj.inc3 years ago
You could play an extremely loud high pitched mosquito sound, or get a shaker and rattle stuff off their wall.
Great instructible :)

You say that you are running out of arduino pins to power the LEDs.

Have a look at http://arduino.cc/en/Tutorial/ShiftOut which shows how to use one or more shift registers to drive a large number of LEDs using only three arduino pins.

Keep up the good work, and I hope your neighbours learn to keep the noise to a dull roar very soon :)
vincent75203 years ago
Funny !
However I'm not sure a technical answer would solve the problem : who would care about being too noisy if you make noise yourself ???
That's why noisy neighbors are a nuisance : they don't give a damn about the noise you make when they're noisy. One should make noise when they're at rest !!!…
So a behavioral counter power has to be devised more than a noisier answer…
I'm not sure I am really clear on that …

Anyway project is fun !;
well, if theyr playing music they wanna hear it
constantly having 30 seconds of music playing through it would definitely shake up the experience of listening said music

i think its a very awesome way to deal with neightbours :P

you should make it in some kind of kit, could even make it universal by using a servo to physically press the play/pause button
Dy7lan3 years ago
This is a fun idea, but I would resort to much more immature means of getting my point across.
zack2473 years ago
nice idea :P
what id do is instead of just the speakers run the bass channels through a really high powered amplifier :3
theyd get the point. i hope.
petrolhead3 years ago
If you really want to annoy the neighbors but some bass heavy music on, it will travel through the wall much more effectively.
BTW do you have neighbors on the other side of your house?
scottder3 years ago
So then you annoy the neighbor on other side, nice.

"Loud noise annoys me, I will make loud noise!"

triumphman3 years ago
I just run my lawnmower close to their house. Then If that does not work I get my chainsaw running. They usually get the hint! Most people have no respect for others when it comes to noise pollution. They are usually numb to the fact that their style music (or noise) is not liked by everyone. The base is usually what I feel and hear through my walls. So I have no idea what they are listening to. I was just picking strawberries in a small garden (20 ' x 20') in front of my home and could hear the sounds more clearly, and would you believe it was one of my good old songs! I liked it but it sounds bad through walls! So, you never know what to expect from "neighbors" (I call them adjacent property owners because they don't deserve to be called neighbors") Life is too short for this trash. So I find something else to distract me and it usually is very productive and stress free! Try it, it works!