The Lightning Simulator/Breathalyzer/Graphic Equalizer - Arduino Powered

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Picture of The Lightning Simulator/Breathalyzer/Graphic Equalizer - Arduino Powered

*** UPDATE: A portable version of the Talking Breathalyzer is here ***

The LED strips are mounted on an outdoor trellace which functions as a lightning simulator, outdoor breathalyzer, graphic equalizer synced to music, and a few other effects with sound.


8 12v RGB Waterproof Flexible LED Strips 10ft long ( - $800
8 RGB 4A/Ch Amps ( - $200
8 RGB 4A/Ch Amps with TTL input ( - $200
RGB Controller 8 Key Touch (Wall Plate) - $25
1 Arduino Mega - $60
1 Arduino Mega ProtoShield - $15
1 AdaFruit WaveShield - $22
1 Electrical panel enclosure to house the Arduino and LED Strip amps - $30
18-4 cable for wiring the LED strips - $30
2 Power Supply 12v 48W 4A
1 5VDC Power Supply
Waterproof Butt Connectors
Standard CAT5 wire
2 pairs of Audio Baluns
Molex connectors and crimping pins
Alcohol Sensor
Various switches and two 10K potentiometers
Other sensors of your choice
Audio Amplifier or Whole House Audio System
Electro-Seal by Ducky (waterproof, flexible rubber coating)  - Optional
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Step 1: The Schematic & Audio Solution

Picture of The Schematic & Audio Solution
I needed to be able to control each of the 8 LED strips (each strip is 10 feet long) individually. Controlling each LED in the strip individually would have been nice but was not required for this project.

After a bit of research, I landed on the folks over at Their service was great, they answered all of my questions even the dumb ones in a timely manner. They also did a custom wiring schematic based on my requirements and pre-cut the LED strips to the lengths I needed.

The project also needed sound for the Breathalyzer feature as well as some of the other effects, the Adafruit WaveShield fit the bill for this. Line level audio comes out of the WaveShield and goes into an existing whole house audio sound system (the Nuvo Grand Concerto). It was a 70ft run to the Grand Concerto audio system and unfortunately line level audio picks up noise very quickly on long runs so audio baluns over CAT5 were used to eliminate the noise.

For the Graphic Equalizer (VU Meter) feature, line level audio goes out from the Grand Concerto audio system into an analog input pin on the Arduino Mega. had an off the shelf LED controller for controlling the colors, dimming, flashing, etc. So I wanted to be able to use this controller along with the Arduino Mega for the lightning simulator/breathalyzer/graphic equalizer functions. The way this works is you simply turn on the controller you want and turn the other one off.

A higher resolution pic of the schematic

tornagen2 years ago
Inspiring project
Chylighting3 years ago
techfreek4 years ago
I am doing a project involving supplies from usLEDsupply as well, and I am wondering, you have 3 power supplies and 8 LED strip amps... how did you connect them? did you chop the existing connector off, and solder new leads onto the end? or did you just solder onto the existing connector? Thanks!
alinke (author)  techfreek4 years ago
used these guys along with a splitter
the way the RGB amps work makes the switching rev direction
i have been done that road
Absolutely amazing. Ill definitely be trying this.
Jimmacle4 years ago
That's really cool! Congrats for being a grand prize winner!
What a brilliant bit of makery! Congratulations!
alinke (author)  PenfoldPlant4 years ago
thanks! it's quite an honor given the quality of all the projects
tommielee404 years ago
congrats, enjoy that CNC
techfreek4 years ago
This i pretty awesome!
I am really tempted to build something similar to this, I was just wondering how you got the audio inputs (You had the waveshield for the output) and also how you did the spectrum analyzing.

alinke (author)  techfreek4 years ago
thanks, this instructable is how the spectrum analyzing works with the audio input. In my case, the audio input is coming from a whole house audio system but it could just as easiy be an iPod
noik4 years ago
This is really awesome, especially the white button is nice
Keep up
MrKazekage4 years ago
im wondering how well it works in weather. also what is a rough estimate of cost for all these items. o right and can you help me figure out where to place all of this because i do not have a basement so its a bit of a problem figuring out where to place everything.
alinke (author)  MrKazekage4 years ago
works great in the rain, I got the weatherproof RGB LED strips, I mounted all the elctronics in an outdoor electrical panel box, I updated the instructables with the costs I could remember. If I had to do it again, I would have just put the power supplies outside as opposed to running conduit all the way down to my basement, you could just get a bigger electrical panel box and put the power supplies in there.
well thank you for the reply it was helpful. geting such a box would probably be cheaper on wire costs seeings how everything is right there and it saves me from making a million trips inside haha
alinke (author)  MrKazekage4 years ago
yes exactly, that would be the way to go. The only reason I did the trenches and conduit was my original idea was to house the microcontroller in the basement also but I soon realized that was way too many wires so ended up just using the trenches and conduit for power.
Qhubarb4 years ago
Wow! That is just awesome, great job!
erinkwhite4 years ago
mary candy4 years ago
shocked again! you 'ibles are fantastic !
alinke (author)  mary candy4 years ago