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How to make bells light-chime for Cathedral art exhibition? Answered

My girlfreind is making some bell shaped sculptures out of string (seven in total) that are to be hung in the local cathedral, and she would like to make them 'Chime' by lighting up. I say she would like to make them do this, but as I'm slightly more practical (though not a great deal) I've been charged with the job. I've done some reaserch into variouse methods but these either seem unapropriate or are too technically demanding.
I've looked at DMX style theater light controllers- too expensive and bulky, and using a programable circuit board controller- over my head. Ideally, she would like a bell to light up for a second or so before dimming, and then have a different bell do likewise and so on. The pattern can be comlpetely random and does not need to represent a piece of music. I thought I may be able to do this with pendant lights and timer plugs, but the timer fragments on these represent fifteen minutes- too long for the lights to be on to read as being struck and chiming. Is there anyway to shorten these time fragments?
Would consider using lower voltage lights a transformer and some clever electronics, as I can solder. I just need some idiot-proof advice. I can PAT test it too before using so dont worry, I promise not to sue if I blow myself up.

Best wishes,


You need a DMX sequencer
Where are you in the world ? 


Hi again,
She is making seven bell shapes, ranging in size from about two feet to four feet in diameter. We live in the south of England, although I am Northish.
I like the Idea of DMX stuff as the programs seem easier to get your head around, but don't sequencers get a bit pricey, and arent the actual lights, the theatre ones with the right fittings, a bit bulky?

Hi Chris,

I'm looking at some bits in the current CPC catalogue which should be nice and neat, and not murderously expensive. Depends how much you value your time !

This is the controller
These are the lights

These are all LED lights, multiple colours, and the controller says it can remember sequences of lights.


.  I'm not sure what the generic name for that effect is, but try searching for different names and append " +Arduino" (without the quotes) to the search string.
.  You can substitute any microprocessor for Arduino, but that one seems to be one of the more popular ones and someone is bound to have done something very similar (if not exactly) to what you want to do.

Many thanks for your reply. Have had a good look at  Arduino controllers and think it's the way forward for me. Only my incompetence can stand in the way. Have ordered a chip and a fools 'how to' guide. I'm looking at running the whole thing off a12 V transformer and having some transistors between some 5W powerchip LED's. does anything sound crazy about that?
Thanks again for the advice. Will post some pics if it all works.
Best wishes,

.  Using the interposing transistors, I see nothing crazy about it.
> Will post some pics if it all works.
.  Pics my shiny metal butt! We want a full-blown iBle. ;)

I don't see why a DMX controller wouldn't be perfect for this. They come in all shapes and sizes. How big are the things you want to light ? What kind of lights are you using.


Thanks for your answer. When I was looking at DMX lights in our components catalogue at work all I could find were big theatre and disco lighting style units, but it would be great if there was something daintier out there. At the moment someone has put me on to 5w powerchip LED's and an Arduino controller, and I think this kind of thing would be ideal. We are going for more of a subtle glow to these bells rather than an intense downward illumination.
Also, one of the AV techs at my work (who doesn't work with DMX kit addmitedly) was sceptical about its ability to animate the lights through automated control, and said someone would probably need to be there pushing buttons.
Me, I know nothing.
Best wishes,