Arduino Light Sensitive Bar Graph




About: Technologist, Electronic Engineer, sometime Coderdojo mentor.

This is a project for Arduino to make a Light Sensitive Bar Graph, aimed at beginners.

Arduino measures the voltage on a voltage divider composed of a resistor and an LDR (light dependant resistor).
A bar of LEDs are illuminated corresponding to the measured voltage.

* Learn how to use an LDR
* Learn how to illuminate a bar of LEDs according to a measured voltage

Step 1: What You Need

You will need:
* Arduino UNO
* Some LEDs
* A 560 Ohm resistor for each LED  (or a value similar to that)
* A 10k Ohm resistor
* An LDR
* Breadboard for wiring up e.g. (
* Some Wires

Step 2: Wire It Up

Wire up the circuit as shown in the diagrams.

Step 3: How to Illuminate the LEDS in a Bar

Converting the analogue value to a bar display is accomplished pretty easily with the map function:

sensorValue = analogRead(analogInPin);                   // read the analog in value
ledLevel = map(sensorValue, 0, 700, 0, NbrLEDs);    // map to the number of LEDs

The sensorValue range is 0 to 1023 theoretically. Practically it goes between about 0 and 700 for daylight and the chosen component values.

ledLevel will be 0 to 6 for example (if NbrLEDs = 6), over that same input range.

All you have to do then is use a for loop to turn ON the LEDs based on the ledLevel.

Step 4: Here's the Code

      Bargraph sketch
      Recipe 7.5 from the Arduino Cookbook by Michael Margolis
     Turns on a series of LEDs proportional to a value of an analog sensor.
     Six LEDs are controlled but you can change the number of LEDs by changing
     the value of NbrLEDs and adding the pins to the ledPins array
    const int NbrLEDs = 6;
    const int ledPins[] = { 13, 12, 11, 10,9, 8};
    const int analogInPin = 0; 
// Analog input pin connected to variable resistor
    const int wait = 30;
    // Swap values of the following two constants if cathodes are connected to Gnd
    const boolean LED_ON = LOW;
    const boolean LED_OFF = HIGH;
    int sensorValue = 0;       
// value read from the sensor
    int ledLevel = 0;           // sensor value converted into LED 'bars'
    void setup() {
      for (int led = 0; led < NbrLEDs; led++)
        pinMode(ledPins[led], OUTPUT); 
                            // make all the LED pins outputs
    void loop() {
      sensorValue = analogRead(analogInPin);                
// read the analog in value
      ledLevel = map(sensorValue, 0, 700, 0, NbrLEDs);  // map to the number of LEDs
      for (int led = 0; led < NbrLEDs; led++)
        if (led < ledLevel ) {
          digitalWrite(ledPins[led], LED_ON);    
                // turn on pins less than the level
        else {
          digitalWrite(ledPins[led], LED_OFF);                
// turn off pins higher than the level

Step 5: Enjoy

Try changing it to "decay" the bar graph using:

decay = max(sensorValue, decay);

and reducing decay each iteration.

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    4 Discussions


    3 years ago

    Hello, can we use neopixel addressable leds instead of normal leds?


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for this, I built it and because I am just starting my Arduino journey this taught me some valuable things.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    This is was part of a project I had in one of my classes. It was really helpful.

    Thanks a bunch for putting this up!


    5 years ago on Step 5

    I just made this, great instructable, thanks!