Build an LED Display That Responds to Music



Introduction: Build an LED Display That Responds to Music


Large bread board
2 TIP31c transistors (or equivalent PNP transistors)
8 LEDs of any color
3 plain picture frames
1 female 3.5mm audio jack
A power adapter, 9 to 15volts should be fine (perhaps your old cellphone charger)
Electrical tape
Soldering iron
Tin foil
A 3.5mm audio splitter and male to male cord
Hot glue gun and glue (optional)
Multimeter (optional, but helpful)
Screws, power drill, drill bit. (all optional)

Step 1: The Picture Frames

Select your three identical picture frames so that the bread board fits nicely within the inside edges of the frames. Make sure that they stack nicely. I found that my board fit perfectly inside 5” by 7” photo frames from IKEA. This will be the housing for your light circuit.

Step 2: The Adapter

Cut the plug off of your power adapter and strip the wire.

Protip: Leave enough wire on the plug so it could be used for another project in the future.

Twist the ends of the wire and coat them with solder. Solder leads onto the wire so that you can plug it into your breadboard. Remember to take note of which is wire is positive.

Step 3: The Circuit

Solder leads onto your audio jack and create the simple circuit below on your bread board.

Arrange the LEDs around the edges of the board. It may be helpful to build the circuit and test it before arranging the LEDs to the edges.

Carefully flatten down all the components against or over the edge of the board.

Step 4: Creating the Case

Take one of the picture frames and frame a square of tinfoil. The tinfoil will help reflect more light. Mine required a little carving to get the breadboard to fit within the frame

Take another picture frame and remove the back and glass. This will be sandwiched between the other two to allow more room for the board and components.

Frame a sheet of semi transparent plastic in the last picture frame without the cardboard packing so it makes a window. This is for diffusing the light. I found a sheet of this material at my local plastic store

Packaging material, light gels, or even a thin coat of paint on the picture frame's glass will all work. Another good source for plastic like this is the back to school aisle at any department store.

Drill two holes in the bottom of the frames for the cords. If you don't have a drill use a knife to carve out some space for them.

Place the board on top of the framed tinfoil. Put the empty frame on top of this carefully glue or screw this frame to the one below. If you choose to screw, remember to pre-drill a hole, this will help prevent the frames from cracking.

Double check everything, make sure your cords are secure and circuit working before you glue or screw the final frame on top.

Step 5: Finished!

Plug the splitter into your ipod or computer, plug the line from your light box into one port and other into your speakers. To get the brightest effect, turn up the volume all the way on the player, and control the volume on your stereo.

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