Introduction: Super Sized Acryllic Spectrum Analyzer

Why would you want to look at those tiny led displays or those small LCD's if you can do it big?

This is a step by step description on how to build your own Giant sized Spectrum analyzer.

Using acrylic tiles and led strips to build a room filling light show using 280+ big sized LED's

Why do it small if you can do it big.....


You will need an arduino Mega, a cheap frequency board SI5351 and a handfull of small parts.

Let's get started

Step 1: Introduction

Giant Super sized 14 Channel spectrum analyzer

  • -280 acrylic leds (WS2812)
  • -Arduino controlled
  • 40Hz – 16Khz
  • Line in
  • Microphone in
  • Different modes and colors
  • Brightness control
  • Sensitivity control
  • Peak delay control

Key components:

  • Arduino Mega 2560 Pro
  • Si5351A breakout board
  • WS2812 (74Leds/meter)
  • Acryl 10mm.

You will need access to a laser cutter to cut out all 280 acrylic tiles or you will have to put in the extra mile to do all by hand.

Project download:
All hardware, software etc. is "as is" and you are free to modify it to your needs. None of the hardware has been tested for CE compliance etc. If you decide to use anything from this design, you do so at your own risk. Coding, PCB and drawings are all available for download. If you like this project, please share this video to your friends and don't forget to click the like button and subscribe!





Buy PCB:


How it works

There are two microcontrollers involved but one is optional
because it is used for a flashing logo only.

The main circuit evolves around an Arduino Mega 2560 ( Pro version preferred because of the smaller footprint). The Arduino uses a frequency board SI5351 to generate two stabile different frequencies. Each frequency is used to drive the clock of a spectrum chip MSGEQ7. The MSGEQ7 is a 7 channel spectrum analyzer chip that divides the input signal into 7 different frequency containers. Depending on the input, the output signal of each container varies. All frequency containers are send to the chips output DAC where they are presented serially one after the other. Because it is a 7 channel chip, a trick is used to internally shift the frequency range of the containers by shifting the clock frequency of that chip.

If you want more information on how this is done, more information is available on youtube.

The Arduino reads the DAC of the MSGEQ7 chips constantly and translates the individual containers to a number of leds per acrylic tower. These leds are driven serially but are still fast enough, even with 240 leds!

Step 2: Collect Your Parts



now version available with pre-assembled SMD components

The Gerber files are included with this Instructable. Feel free to use them to order your own PCB elsewhere.

Your Main components are

  • Arduino Mega 2560 Pro
  • Si5351A breakout board
  • WS2812 (74Leds/meter) ledstrip
  • Acryl 10mm.
  • MSgEQ7 chip

The first three components I all got from alieexpress and sort alike websites. It might take some time for it to be delivered but it will save you some money.

The acryl that I used to make the tiles, I purchased locally.

For the IC's MSGEQ7 be warned!!! I ordered several units from different (China) and local sellers but none of those worked. The one's I ordered from Mouser (Sparkfun) where the only one that worked. So, buy wise as you can only spent your money once.

Step 3: Using a Breadboard or Get a PCB

Although I designed a PCB for my setup, you can also decide to use a simple breadboard of simular setup.

If you wish, you can order your pcb at your own supplier. The gerber files to order it are included. I ordered mine at

Whatever setup you are using, make sure you solder on the components the right way.

PCB layout and component list for pcb is included

Step 4: Mechanical Work

Basically, It is the distance between the leds on the ledstrip that maximizes the size of the tiles you want to use. If you want bigger tiles of place them further apart, you will have to get a different ledstrip or cut it apart and rewire it.

Theoretically, you could make your setup as high as the building you live in although wiring can become an issue in that case. My setup is about 50cm in height and it's 82cm wide. That is way bigger than the little LCD screen on my mp3 player! I kind of super sized it!

Anyway, I used the student version of autocad which is available for free after registration. The files are included. You might have to adjust them to your setup but it will get you started for sure.

I used my company's laser cutter to make all the tiles but if you have enough time on your hands, you could do it by hand...but I guess that making 280 tiles by hand will make nobody happy.

Step 5: Putting It All Together

Putting it all together is mainly divided into:

1. assembly of the acrylic towers incl. the ledstrips

2. assembly of the base

3. assembly of the logo ledstrip ( optional)

4. assembly of towers onto based

5. wiring of the whole system

All of this is is best shown in the youtube video


New version of firmware available. It includes a debug mode to test the hardware:



Step 6: Coding

The maincode it the attached sketch.

If you are using the flashing logo, you can use logoblink to program a tiny arduino

UPDATE!! As of version 2.0 of the PCB, the extra arduino Tiny for the logo is no longer needed.

An extra output is available and can by connected directly to the logo ledstrip

Step 7: Enjoy Showing It to Your Friends

After putting in all this hard word you will have to show it to the world! Tell your friends all about it and don't forget to show it off on internet.

Take a look at my video to see how I build and design it.

Super-Size Speed Challenge

Participated in the
Super-Size Speed Challenge