Arduino Light-Up Musical Staff




Introduction: Arduino Light-Up Musical Staff

In this project, you'll use two Arduino RedBoards to create a musical staff that illuminates when notes are played.

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Step 1: Gather Materials

For this project, you will need:

- two Sparkfun Inventor's Kits

- Extra jumper wires (two per button, three per LED, two per buzzer, plus several more for linking boards and soldering onto your LEDs-- in total, 4 or 5 dozen jumper wires)

- Extension wires (not entirely necessary if you solder long wires onto your LEDs)

- Soldering tool

- Solder metal

- Hot air gun and heat shrink tubing

- 4 breadboards

- 8 buttons

- 8 LEDs

- Two piezo buzzers

- Access to the Arduino program (found here:

- Access to a laser cutter and the appropriate programs

- Access to 3D printing and the appropriate programs

Step 2: Soldering LEDs

Before you create your circuits on the breadboards, you'll need some extra length on your LEDs so that they can reach the appropriate place on the staff.

Tutorial: (In our case, we skipped adding the resistors onto the legs of the LEDs.)

Step 3: Preparing the Staff

3D printing is not a very fast process (yet!) so you'll need to start printing your notes early on. We printed our notes in a translucent clear material so that our LEDs would shine through. You'll need eight of these notes, and you can find our model here:

Once you get your notes printing, you can cut your treble clef out with a laser cutter. Ours is cut from thin plastic, but cardboard or thin wood will also suffice.

Step 4: Creating Circuits

This is the fun part. Now, you'll need to start hooking up your buttons, LEDs, and buzzers. The tutorials in the SIK Guide can help you in figuring out what each circuit should look like. Once you have one of each set up, repeat the process until all eight buttons, all eight LEDs and the two buzzers are hooked up. There will be lots of wires running about, so it might get tricky!

For our setup, we hooked four buttons to the RedBoard's attached breadboard, and then hooked another breadboard to it with four LEDs and one buzzer to play the notes for those four buttons. You'll need two RedBoards to get all eight notes because of the limited pins.

If you want to test your wiring as you go, the next step contains the codes that we used.

Step 5: Programming the Arduinos

Regardless of whether all of your wires are hooked in or if you only have one circuit complete, you can upload codes into the Arduino program to test. We used two codes-- one for higher notes and one for lower-- and they can both be found below. A few notes are including within the code for the HighChords, so be sure to use that file first.

Step 6: Assemble Your Staff

Now, all that's left is putting lights in their proper places and adding your decorations. We cut out our staff from a sheet of wood just slightly larger than standard paper.

Move your lights (with extension cords, if needed) to their proper places on the staff. Then, attach your printed music notes to the staff, place your treble clef at the start of the staff, and decorate your board as desired.

Step 7: Test/Play

Once everything is in its proper place, test your buttons again to make sure everything is still functional. If it is, then you're all finished!

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    4 Discussions


    3 years ago

    the design is amazing, it's almost a complete package :) thanks for the soldiering tutorial that was helpful and those buttons are awesome, can you show me where to buy them online? all that I have locally is that ugly small black button.....

    but why did you use two boards? is it too much wiring, if thats the case maybe using a multiplexer would help?


    Reply 3 years ago

    I think the buttons just come with Sparkfun kits, but I'm sure that you could order colored buttons online (the internet's got everything, right?). As for the two boards-- to be totally honest this project was made for a two week intro engineering course, so our materials were a bit limited. The group just agreed to hook up a second arduino rather than try and dig up materials that we weren't sure we had. A multiplexer certainly would make this easier if you have access to it!


    3 years ago

    The staff looks really nice.