Introduction: Music Visualiser Table

Picture of Music Visualiser Table

This Instructable will hopefully give you all you need to put together a reactive music led table.

*** Following questions/suggestions/queries, I've added a full breakdown for making the LED array. I hope it helps those with questions. I've also added some pictures of the circuit boards - These are directly from Adafruit, and I give them full credit - what they do is awesome!***

I based it on the Music Visualiser at Music Visualiser - Adafruit. The code is from there, the circuit is from there - all I really created was a big led matrix, and put it into an Ikea table!

Really, I wanted to make a full arduino tetris table, but I had most of the spare parts and wood available to make this, so that's what I did.

As a picture is worth a thousand words, there are lots of pictures as I hate writing!

Step 1: Modify the Table

Picture of Modify the Table

Start with an Ikea Lack table - the matt white was on special at £5, so that's what I used.

Draw a square on the table - mine was 40cm * 40cm - giving me 5cm2 sections.

Not knowing what the table was made of, I cut a small hole to look inside.

Happy with what I found, I cut the square, and removed the honeycomb cardboard inside.

Step 2: Realise Your Mistakes

Picture of Realise Your Mistakes

Having cut the hole, I sectioned off the white square I'd just cut out.

I then glued the triangle I'd cut back in place. Oops.

Then section off the board into 5cm2 pieces.

I made template for the led holes- yes it's an old rail ticket, and marked the holes.

Drill loads of holes and fill with leds.

Take a picture with all the leds in place. Feel good about what you've done.

Step 3: Making the Matrix Grid

Picture of Making the Matrix Grid

I got some white laminated hardboard I found in the garage and cut strips. The height was based on the depth of the table. There weren't measurements - it was done by eye.

I then used the bandsaw to cut the intersection holes. I then used the kids 'gloopy glue' (pva!), to stick reflective photopaper to the other side of the hardboard. I used a craft knife to cut this to size once dry.

I assembled the pieces and glue-gunned them into place.

Step 4: Creating the Led Matrix

Picture of Creating the Led Matrix

This is making a very large version of the common cathode matrix found in the attached datasheet.

Firstly, cut some wires, and strip them, lots of them - I suggest you buy a wire stripper, I did and it made it so much easier! Once you think you've got enough, cut some more! You'll need 56 black wires and 112 red wires. Each should be about 7 to 8 cm long, but this will vary depending on your array, so just check before you cut all of them. As you'll see in one of the first pictures, I placed a marked piece of paper on my table, laid the wire along it and cut it into strips. This made the pieces the same length.

Next, to save my fat fingers whilst soldering, I twisted the wires into lengths of 7 pieces of wire - this was so I could solder the wires without trying to hold multiple wires at once.

*** to make the next bit slightly clearer, I've added some diagrams that should highlight which wires are connecting where***

Having made the board with the holes,

Insert the LEDs in the back-side of the board and bend the legs over so the cathodes touch, but the anodes are separate.

Solder all the cathodes together using the black wires.

Solder all the anodes together using the red wires.

Step 5: Connecting the Circuitry

Picture of Connecting the Circuitry

Connect your newly created array as the diagrams show.

The pins on the matrix connect directly to the circuit board. I've put the pinout on the board so you can see which pins are which.

I've also shown the circuit diagram that has come from Adafruit, but I've made one change - the GND connection from the microphone goes to a different GND connection than the LED array. I found that the microphone output was getting 'corrupted' if it was connected to the same GND and the output of the LED array was garbage.

Test the matrix and circuit as in the video.

Step 6: Complete the Table

Picture of Complete the Table

Get a piece of perspex the same size as the matrix, and cover it in frosted window film. If you can find pre frosted perspex then this may save you some effort. For added diffusion, I used some greaseproof paper as well.

I cut a hole in the bottom of the table to allow a usb cable to fit through.

Slide the matrix into place.

Glue to plastic top in place.

Your table is now complete.


AdriSiete (author)2017-05-25

Hi! I´ve completed this project, but I have a problem. The green LED´s don´t shine with a good intensity, it´s like they are underpowered. Does somebody have the same problem? Thanks!

eric_v (author)2017-04-22

What are the (gray wires) connecting from the cathode and anode wires to the LED Matrix?

AleCss (author)2017-01-19

I can't download the mov file, it's forbidden. Can you correct?


gpailhes (author)2016-10-22

hello it does not work, can someone help me?

CatarinaQ (author)2016-07-01

I can´t seem to turn on the table!! Is is almost done but we burn the microphone so we are using a regular one...but it´s not working!! We have to present our work by 5 of jully!! Can someone help us please?


CatarinaQ (author)2016-06-30

I can i get your email please? I need some help for a school project!! It is almost done but the programing is a little difficult!!

Zacb4 (author)2016-06-26

Hey man I need some help I bought a single colour matrix instead of the multicolured one, I tried using your wiring diagram but it didn't work do you know how I can make it work?

crt4041 (author)2015-01-09

Here's a quick parts list.

UK Parts list:
Maplin Order Codes:
N30KU - Arduino Main Board (Another smaller clone would probably work)
N74DQ - Adafruit Bicolour LED Display with backpack (although you don't use the led array - you only use the multiplexing chip, but you can't buy it separately)
A87RK - Adafruit Electret Microphone

(Possibly found cheaper elsewhere)

Ikea Order Code:
200.114.13 - Ikea Lack Side Table

1 * 16" * 20" clip frame (used for the perspex on top)

4007386259721 - Self adhesive window frosting (for frosting the LEDS)
5022652560188 - White hardboard - for creating the grid

MISC - (what I had already)
LEDS - 64 * red
LEDS - 64 * green (green + red = amber)
Baking paper - used for the diffusing the leds before the frosting.
You may not need the baking paper if you are using diffused LEDs. Mine weren't diffused so without the baking paper created dots in hte perspex.
USB cable.
Cable to connect all the LEDS together
White photo card - to coat the other side of the white hardboard.

Stanley knife
Hot Glue Gun
Large ruler

Kravex (author)crt40412016-05-10

What thickness cable did you use and where the best and cheapest place to get a reel of it?

crt4041 (author)Kravex2016-05-10

I used standard equipment wire. I normally use as they're pretty good on prices. The unit only draws minimal current, so any cable capable of carrying 1A is more than over specified.

miahfaisal0 (author)2016-04-29

I'm also doing a school project and I am wondering how is the table running on. Is it a battery or is it connect to something else. Could u elaborate on this as we are wondering how the leds can be handled with all this Amps

crt4041 (author)miahfaisal02016-04-29

It runs on a standard USB connection. It'll work off 5v @ 500mA - a standard iPhone charger. I believe that the code from Adafruit multiplexes the LEDs, so they're not all on at once, they just look like it. You are right however, 128 LEDs @ 20mA each equals about 2.5A, so yes it would then draw a lot of power.

miahfaisal0 (author)crt40412016-05-09

Okay thank you.

I'm currently having problems with the coding. Apparently what's missing through the ads fruit backpack folder is the #include . There is no existence of this apparently. Could u explain what should be done

miahfaisal0 (author)miahfaisal02016-05-09


miahfaisal0 (author)miahfaisal02016-05-09

#include Adafruit_GFX.h

Kravex (author)2016-05-03

This has appeared in this months Make: magazine (issue 51) with more detailed instructions, is this you or have they just used the same idea?

crt4041 (author)Kravex2016-05-03

No, that's me! I've been working with them for the past few months on it. Glad you've seen it.

catqueiroset (author)2016-04-22

Hi,I am doing your project for school and we are with some difficulties on the programing!! Can you send us yours please?

Ps: It´s really important Thank You

crt4041 (author)catqueiroset2016-04-23

Which part of the programming are you having difficulty with?

crt4041 (author)2015-06-14

Hi everyone, and apologies for the delay in replying.

I've just added updates for the LED array, with added pin numbers, diagrams and pictures. If you need anything else let me know and I'll endeavour to help.

MinhazM1 (author)crt40412016-02-18

Hey, what tools did you use to cut the square out of the table? Can this be done without power tools?

crt4041 (author)MinhazM12016-02-22

To cut the square hole I used a drill to make a hole, and then used the small saw on my Leatherman to cut the lines. I did try and use a hacksaw blade, but progress was slow and I was impatient! You could probably use a Stanley knife to cut the hole rather than a drill, just mind your fingers!

Gretchen99 (author)2015-08-06

Wow! Amazing! You should sell these!

nico.lehoublond (author)2015-05-03

Hello, I started using your page to make my music visualizer, you did a nice job !

I have a little problem : As there are no pin numbers written on the LED backpack, how do you choose which line in the datasheet.pdf goes to which pin ont the LED backpack ? I'm getting a bit lost at this point...

Thanks for the help !

I'm having trouble n figuring out how to connect the leds.
Will you help sending your leds soldered ?
That would be most helpful!
Hope you solve your problem

phenoptix (author)2015-01-08

Stunning work! I assume this is yours on Ebay Really great job and thanks so much for sharing your design.

crt4041 (author)phenoptix2015-01-08

Yes, that's mine - well spotted!

I'm only selling it as I haven't got room for it. My kids were devastated! "Buuuttttt DADDY!!!!"

btw- if you are from '' - thank you for selling me my first Arduino - but my wife would like words!!!, and secondly why did you stop selling stuff on

phenoptix (author)crt40412015-01-19

Sorry for the delayed reply. Hope you were pleased with the auction result!
That is me! The one and only phenoptix! No worries on the Arduino and my apologies to your wife. I almost typed apologies for your wife there (sure Freud would have something to say!!). reached a tipping point where it either had to become a faceless shipping house or do something more interesting and I chose the latter, working on the MeArm (

SusanaA (author)2015-01-08

I love it. I followed the link to ebay. Are you in England? I would love to buy it for my preschool but I am in the USA

DerpyH (author)2014-12-23

Why you guys(all the guys that post instructables) dont make videos or explain about the electronic or the sofware in this site?

BTW nice one gonna make my own 8x24 led matrix with defused acrylic

SusanaA (author)DerpyH2015-01-08

Please make a video and share your work

AilsaN (author)2015-01-08

Please could I have a purchase list? I have a friend who is going to help me have a go at building it but I need to purchase the stuff. I take kids space to music festivals and so I am hoping to make some for our disco. I have no idea about the wiring it up, would you add a little more explination please?

crt4041 (author)2015-01-08

DerpyH - there is little point writing about the electronics as Adafruit have it all documented. I also like to highlight the fact that without their awesome LED multiplexer I wouldn't have been able to make it.

Techprolet- Yes, high freqs to the left low to the right. If you put an iPhone next to the microphone nothing shows on the right hand side as it's bass replication is rubbish!

techprolet (author)2015-01-02

Nice work! Is it my impression that you are showing low freqs to the right and higher freqs to left, or not?

pudtiny (author)2014-12-21

nice work

crt4041 (author)2014-12-20

I ordered 1000's of LEDs from Hong Kong a month or two back - I had to find something to do with them!

I was going to make an instructable on the LED wordclock that I made, but that's been done to death.

tomatoskins (author)2014-12-20

That looks great!

crt4041 (author)2014-12-20

Apologies, I've just rotated them!

Kiteman (author)2014-12-20

This is a brilliant project, but all those photos turned to the left give me a stiff neck trying to see what's going on - could you possibly rotate them? Please??

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