LED Music Light Box




Introduction: LED Music Light Box

About: I'm just doing / finishing my GCSEs. Going on to do IB and then will probably study aeronautical engineering in Uni. Other than all that serious stuff, I love helicopters, filming, diving and just designing me…
I built this for a school art project to compare the similarities and differences between art and science. It was inspired by Walter Giers' work.

The three strips of LEDs and another ring in the middle, all respond to music which comes from either a source in the room, or an iPod or CD player plugged into the device. The box then reacts to the music, changing the background colour, rate of change and flashing ring in the middle, according to the music played.

The device can also pick up the sound of a conversation in a room if no music is playing, and so respond to this sound.

It was a fun project which looks great on the wall afterwards, filling the room with a great atmosphere.

I'm going to upload a better, clearer demonstration soon :)

Step 1: What You Need

- solder iron & tin
- Dremel or other small drill
- hot glue gun
- lighter
- screws and screw driver
- double sided tape (Normal & heavy duty)

- 30cm x 50cm wood board
- 30cm x 30cm x 5cm milky acrylic glass box (with 1cm x 1cm x 1cm cubes in the bottom corners, best with a hole in them)
- two 30cm x 10cm acrylic glass panels
- white sticky plastic wrap
- 90cm RGB LED strip
- 10 cm diameter White LED ring
- 3 RGB LED controllers (With IR remote controls)
- IR remote control for LED controller
- amplifier
- Speaker
- RF sound input controller
- lots of wire
- adapter for controllers used
- shrink tube
- Old CPUs for decoration
- 40cm x 20cm x 2cm wooden frame

Step 2: Take Covers Off

First, make sure you have everything. Put it all to one side and just keep the LED controllers and sound controller.

Take the covers off these, but be careful. Ground yourself first so that no circuit boards are blown. We are going to take them out so that all the circuits are exposed and look awesome on the final piece.

For the controllers you may have to take out some screws and sometimes even get rid of some glue using a scalpel, but be really careful when doing this.

Step 3: LEDs

Once all the controllers are out of their cases, its time to test and connect the LEDs.

Repeat 3x:

Cut off a 15 LED strip from the 90cm roll you bought.

Test if all the colours work by using a power supply, and working your way through the 4 connections.
You should see these colours:
- Red
- Green
- Blue
- White

Then test the controller.
Do this by connecting it using the adapter, and connect the LEDs using crocodile wires.
Again, test all the colours using the IR remote.
Once you have worked out which connection works with which colour, solder the connections, best with a little bit of extra wire in case you need the connections to be longer.
You need to experiment what connection controls which colour as this depends on the controller you use, but it is usually clearly explained in the instruction manual which comes with the controller.

Finish off by putting a shrinking tube over the solder connections to make the whole thing neater and prohibit any short circuiting to occur.

Step 4: Amplifier, Speaker and Sound Detector

Now its time to test the speaker, amplifier and sound sensor.

All these circuit boards should already be out of their cases.

First, connect the speaker to the amp if has not been done so already.
Add power the the whole thing by connecting it to it's adapter.
Connect an iPod or CD player and play some music to see if the whole thing works.

After this, connect the white LED ring to the sound detector and connect the whole thing to power.
Play some music, which should then be picked up by the sound detector's microphone, and then make the LED ring flash accordingly to the music. (Its best to use a music with a lot of beat or drums)

You can then adjust the sensitivity of the sound detector using the RF remote control (If included)

Once everything works, connect the wires, but DO NOT SOLDER THEM. This will be done later on.

Step 5: The Actual Thing

This is where the back board gets made "nice".

Work out where everything goes, the 3 strips of LEDs and the LED ring. See image below for more clear positions of the different components.

Cover the 50cm x 30cm wooden board in the matt white plastic sticky wrap, going around the sides and glueing it down on the back as well as stapling to really get it stuck to the wood properly.

After the white plastic is stuck down, stick the first 10cm x 30cm acrylic glass panel on the bottom using normal double sided sticky tape. Only place these where the circuit boards will later cover the acrylic glass, so that they cannot be seen. This will later be made stronger, but for now use the sticky tape.

Put the 5cm x 30cm x 30cm cover on, BUT DO NOT STICK. It is only used as a distance marker. Then, place the second acrylic glass panel on the above the cover, so it meets all the edges nicely.

This this down using double sided tape as well, again underneath the spots where the circuits will later cover the tape.

When sticking down the acrylic glass, make sure that no finger prints are left on the bottom side. Use a micro fibre cloth when sticking to avoid touching the area.

Step 6: Power

We need power so the whole thing works.

Again, it depends on the controllers you have, but at least all the LED controllers should share the same voltage.

Connect all the power cables into one adapter to get rid of too much cabling. It is best to solder this and put a shrink tube over it.

Make sure you use long cables as you need it at a length to neatly get it out of the device and to the socket. 1 meter to begin with should be fine. But you can use more if you think you will need it.

See images below to get a better idea.

Step 7: Another Test

Now that we have all the things:- board
- LEDs- Sound system
- Powerwe can do a final test before actually attaching everything!

Lay all the components out, the way you planned it.Check if all the wires are long enough and the connections are all made.
DO NOT STICK OR GLUE ANYTHING YET. This is just a layout and functionality test.First check if the LEDs work, check all the colours
Then if the sound worksThen if they work together

After this, just put the acrylic glass cover on (Doesn't matter about the overlapping cables), turn off the light and just get a first idea of what the device will look like :)Now that we have all the things:- board
- LEDs- Sound system
- Powerwe can do a final test before actually attaching everything!

Lay all the components out, the way you planned it.Check if all the wires are long enough and the connections are all made.
DO NOT STICK OR GLUE ANYTHING YET. This is just a layout and functionality test.First check if the LEDs work, check all the colours
Then if the sound worksThen if they work together

After this, just put the acrylic glass cover on (Doesn't matter about the overlapping cables), turn off the light and just get a first idea of what the device will look like :)

Step 8: Holes

Time to add the holes to make all the wiring neat.

With a thin drill bit, start by drilling holes into the side of the acrylic glass cover, at the bottom edge. Take a bigger drill bit and expand the hole so that it eventually is a semicircular opening at the bottom, perfectly aligned with the wires going in from the components at the top and at the bottom.
But be really careful when drilling the acrylic glass. If not careful it can crack.
Also make sure that you know the layout of the wires inside the box and outside.
Also drill some holes through the wood for some of the bulkier cables to go to the back.

Make sure you get the holes right by using the layout plan on "The real thing" to see where everything will go.

While we have the drill out, attach the wooden frame to the back of the wooden board. Have nice spacings for this and use a minimum of 4 screws to secure it as it will hold all the weight of the device.

Like with the acrylic glass, this need to have holes in it to allow wires to pass through. You want all the wires in the back, to go into this frame. You also want to make a big hole to allow the main wires to come out again.

Make sure that the IR receivers are outside the box

All the power cables should go out the back through the middle of the box

Also see images below:

Step 9: Sticking and Connecting

Its time to stick everything down. Use the sketch on "the actual thing" to position everything, using rulers and protractors to make sure the angles and spaces are correct.

The LED strips tend to have double sided tape on them so just use that.
When sticking the LED ring, use the spongy heavy duty tape (layer it if you have to) to get this LED ring lifted above the others. Again make sure it is positioned right in the middle.

After that, stick all the circuit boards down. Stick them using the heavy duty tape so they hold strongly but are also cushioned and protected. Make sure, the cables that are supposed to be lead behind, are.
You may have to cut the wire in half, put it through the hole and then solder it together again, but remember, but a shrinking tube on it to avoid short circuiting anything.

Then connect the wires to the board. DO NOT STAPLE THEM!! This cracks the acrylic glass and breaks the wires. Inside the box, you can use a hot glue gun, or use this method.

Drill a hole through the board. Put a loop of wire around the cable, and put the loop through the hole. On the other side, put a piece of plastic or wood between the two ends of the cables and twirl it before finally hot glue gunning it. You can also just split the ends to both sides and staple them.
I would recommend this method when connecting the wires at the top or bottom on the acrylic glass where it can be seen.

connect all the wires nicely.

After this, take some more of the sticky plastic, and stick this over the wires in the box itself, so no shapes or dark reflections will be seen later.

Step 10: Cover On

Now it's the cover's turn. Once you have made sure everything is stuck down, secure, working and nice looking, get the cover.

Clean it from the inside to get rid of smudges.

Drill 4 holes in the 4 cubes at each corner. Make sure there is something underneath so the drill bit doesn't scratch the top of the acrylic glass cover.

Drill holes in the same locations on the wooden board.

put a screw through each on of the holes in the acrylic glass cover cubes. secure them at the top using glue if they still turn.

Put the screws through the holes in the board. Everything should align perfectly, the holes for the wires included.

Once the screws are through, secure them with nuts on the other side of the board.

Step 11: Frame at the Back

Now its the cleaning up at the back's turn. There are going to be a lot of cables coming through which will need to be hidden and tidied up.

The frame has already been attached, now all you need to do is make the cables go into it.

This might be easier for some cables than others. Some you may even need to cut in half and re-solder.

Once they are all inside, attach them roughly, using a hot glue gun.

Collect all the cables that need to pass out of the frame, and lead them through the big hole you made earlier.

Once you are happy with the wiring, test if everything works and then take a white piece of wood and cover the back. Take a picture hanger and attach it to the top of the frame to then hang the device.

Almost done! 

Step 12: Finishing

Nearly done!

If you want to, it would probably be nicer if you put all the wires coming out of the device into a white wire channel to make it more discrete.

If you've done that, you're done!!!

Hang it up somewhere, plug in the music, and sit back and enjoy the gently changing colours (Programable with the remote control) and the flashing lights of the circle.

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    9 years ago on Introduction

    What is the music in your first video.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    I used Bon Jovi's "It's my Life".

    However, electronic music like Kraftwerk tends to work better. :)


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Yeah any sort of light flashing to music box will work better with dance or rap music. Kind of a shame since I like rock and heavy metal.

    Although it works pretty well with heavy metal


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Hey man!
    Really nice project!
    I don't have any electronic skills but I don't understand how this thing works.

    1) why do you need 3 rgb controllers? The RF sound input controller seems to be an rgb controller/amplifier Why can't you use it to drive the 3 led strips+the led ring. How are the 3 rgb controller linked to the sound source?

    2)What is the speaker here for?

    3)How do you switch from the embedded mic to the aux line-in?

    I would love you to provide some schemes or some more details about this very very nice project!



    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Hey Karboush!

    I basically used 3 RGB controllers so that each row of lights would be a different colour, and not all be the same.
    The RF sound input controller is a RGB controller, but I only connected it to the white ring in the middle because i thought that if it was connected to them all, there would be too much going on. With just the one being effected by the music there is a nice balance.

    I basically designed this thing for an art project so had to think about the colour distribution, but theoretically, the three RGB LED strips and the LED ring can all be connected in different ways.

    the 3 rgb controllers aren't connected to the sound source, they are just a background colour, only the ring is connected to it, but again, you can go through the RF sound input controller to change this.

    The speaker is basically there so that you have sound. You connect your ipod or cd player into it and it plays the sound close to the mic of the RF sound ic which picks it up more easily this way.

    To switch to the aux line-in, there is a little audio input jack on the side of the rf sound ic which can be used. However, again due to the fact that this was used for an art project based on Walter Giers, I decided to use the wireless method as it looked better in my opinion.

    I'll have a look if I can get some more detailed cicuit diagrams up of the whole device :)

    Thanks a lot

    Hope this helps



    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for your quick answer.
    The arty side of the project confused me a bit I think :) Some things didn't seem logical in the wiring and all but after your explanation everything seems clearer!
    Nice idea and realisation!

    See ya!


    10 years ago on Introduction

    This looks great. Where did you get your acrylic case from? I need something similar for an LED clock I built.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    I had it specially made at a shop where I live. I got to choose the colour, thickness of the glass and whatever design I wanted. It was done the next day and only cost US$ 20. However, if you live in London / Santa Monica, thats a bit far from South East Asia. If you are ever in SIngapore, the shop is right next to Sim Lim Centre. Hope you find a case for your LED Clock :)


    Very nice results. Maybe it could also be accomplished starting with an inexpensive sound activated DJ light and changing the voltage for LEDs.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    yeah, that would probably look great too. I'm gonna sit down soon and try and perfect the device so that it does what it does in the easiest, neatest and cheapest way.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Incredible. I love it. How much would it be to have one of these?


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    haha thanks, I also thought of maybe introducing the idea just in bigger to some local night clubs :)