Music Reactive Desk Lamp





Introduction: Music Reactive Desk Lamp

About: We are a couple that loves creative projects, and retro gaming. We will be posting anything that we make related to it, with DIY videos, crafts, projects, retro gaming, build logs and showcases. Make sure t...

Hi! In this instructable we'll be building a good looking light that dances to all sounds and music, using simple components and some basic Arduino programming. It makes an awesome effect while standing on the desk when gaming, playing music, and anything else that makes sound really. Let's get going!

Step 1: Main Supplies

First things first: what kind of supplies do we need and what do they cost? Well, they are largely optional, and can be made with much improvisation. Even so, some key items are needed if you want to follow this guide:

Depending on the look you want, you might want to arrange the strips differently or diffuse the light in another way. This is where you can be creative. If you like my approach, I used the following items:

  • The tallest IKEA Droppar jar (IKEA Link)
  • A small length of PVC pipe.

All things considered I spent around 30$, where the LED strips were by far the most expensive part.

Step 2: Powering the Components

The star of the show is the sound detector module. This will provide an analog signal to the Arduino, which we can use to (hopefully) cleverly light the RGB lights. To be able to do this, we need to power both devices. Luckily they both require a 5 volt input. I am using a step down module to step down from 12 volts to 5 volts, but it would be easier to use a 5 volt power source directly. Wire the VIN on the Arduino and on the sound detector board to the positive input. Then wire the GND on the Arduino and the detector to the negative. Look at the black and the red wires on the attached schematic. We also need to hook the positive and negative input on the LED-strip to the power source.

Step 3: Detector & Strips

After having connected all three parts to the power, we need to connect them to eachother.

The sound detector module will communicate with the Arduino over the analog input pins. I will be using pin number 0, but which one does not matter.

The LED strips need a digital pulse to be able to understand which LED we want to address. Hence we need to connect a digital output pin to the Arduino nano. I will using pin number 6.

Awesome, now we are mostly done with the electronics!

Step 4: Uploading the Code

The most important part of this build will arguably be the code. It can change this build from pretty cool to insanely awesome. You can find the code i used here (github link). The main principle is to map the analog value we get from the sensor, to an amount of LEDs to show.

We can do this using the map function. This will let us display a certain amount of LEDs given an input, but nothing more than that. Doing only this might give you a jittery and flickering light. I decided to operate on the average of the llast X amount of readings to create a more sane and smooth transition. I also did some more advanced tracking of the song/sound intensity based on averages, to let the light change colors when the song enters a peak.

I will answer questions about the code if you have any, it's far from done, and contributions are welcome!

Step 5: Did Anyone Say Stuffing?

With all the code and the components done, it is assembly time. The PVC is obviously hollow, and we will take advantage of that by stuffing the electronics on the inside. We'll cut a slit in the PVC pipe to let us slide the strip out without obstructing the flush surface of the PVC hole. After that, we can glue the LED-strip to the PVC pipe. Some have asked me why I used hot glue, and not only the adhesive on the back of the strip. It's simply because my experience with it is that it will hold fine on really clean and straight surfaces, but on a curvature like this it will most likely let go in a matter of days. Hence: hot glue!

Step 6: The Container Itself

First I thought the lid was made out of acrylic, so I tried to drill a hole in it. Turns out it was made out of glass, and it broke. Clever! So, that's why I'm cutting out a sphere of acrylics with the same diameter as the lid, with a hole equal to the size of the PVC pipe in the middle. It turned out pretty cool, and I love the shine of new acrylic. Before putting on the frosted IKEA jar, we have to glue the stick of LEDs to the lid.

Step 7: Finishing Up!

We can see by the hole, and the placement of the electronic components, we can reach both the Arduino USB interface and the power input from underneath. I took a little shortcut on the legs, and used some potentiometer knobs I had lying around. Ideally you want some nice wood or maybe some turned aluminum?

Step 8: Done!

This was a great project, and I love it especially because it is so customizable and updatable in the future. I encourage you to look at the video in the top for the actual results. If you don't want the instructions, you can skip to the end to see the action.

Thanks for reading through, hope it was worth your time.


Arduino Contest 2016

Second Prize in the
Arduino Contest 2016

4 People Made This Project!


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100 Discussions

can I use the 5V 1.5A smart phone charger to power all three components ( arduino, module and strip )? please reply

1 reply

Definitely not. I tried it with a 72 LED strip and it made the lights flicker and turn on and off at random. I ended up buying a charger with two 2.1A USB outlets and used one to power the LEDs and the other for the sound sensor and Arduino. That worked fine. It's a bit bulky though.

For the lamp to work, just include the code sound_reactive.ino?

cool project, im new in arduino, can i place the code to arduino IDE?

can i get the abstract for the project?

Hey, I wanted to use this project but instead of having the audio sensor, could I just connect it straight to an audio source using a jack cable? Or would that require extra code?

Hello, I have a question. I would like to do this but I dont have the "Individually Addressable LED strips"

Can I do that whit an RGB Led Strip?

2 replies

RGB strips with R G B and GND input wouldn't work. In the tech world these are called 'dumb' led strips. the WS281B LEDS that they were using are induvidually addressable and called smart LEDs

hi alan, i think it would not work with RGB Led Strip

Hello I have done what they said for the blinking, the problem is that it does not change my color, you are only in blue. What can I do?
Thank you and sorry for my bad english

Hey! A friend and I are building this together and everything seems to be working pretty well, however, the LEDs are not changing color. We have made a few edits to the code in the MIC_LOW and MIC_HIGH areas as suggested in the comments and have adjusted the low and max values, and nothing has worked. Any ideas?

I keep on getting the error of error: 'leds' was not declared in this scope

is there any way to fix it, I tired a couple of things but nothing is working

Hi im a newbe at code, i keep getting errors,like CRGB does not name a type.thats just one of the many error,is there any chance you could send me the finished code plz

Anyone use an alternative jar? It wont let me order the Ikea jar suggested.

How many meters LED did you use?

I'm really struggling with building this, the video is a little vague and some things aren't explained and it looks to be like quite a bit of things that are in the video weren't described in the supply list. Where do I start? In desperate need of help, any and all is appreciated!

Hello. I have a question. Could I use a smartphone as a power supply?

1 reply

Most likely no.

1) Led strips draw a lot of power - around 1.8A (120 led, full white). Your battery capacity (depending on your phone) is around 2.5A to 3A. So while the numbers look ok, it will drain your battery fast - not to mention that your phone will get very hot.

2) Now comes the second fun part. The USB on your phone needs to be USB OTG (on the go). To test this, plug in a usb memory stick. If it boots, you're good to go.

3) Current limiting by host - it's most likely a safety feature is added in these blasted devices, so if you exceed 1A power drawn it will cut the power to your strip.

Now if all conditions are met, it's theoretically possible. I managed to power my system with this little guy :)

Benchmarked it, lasted around 4 hours until it went out

Cool lamp idea and thanks for sharing. I was also wondering if there was a way to use the sounds from my p.c. (inline) I almost aways have my headset on as not to disturb my wife.

P.S. Thanks for sharing.

Hey! What wires do you use? For the analog pins, can I replace them with just normal wires? Could I use normal wires for the whole project? Also, are there any more items I need to purchase besides the ones listed already? You used many different wires that you did not list.