LED Live Music Visualizer


Project Description

This live music visualizer aims to  provide a more interactive and entertaining live music experience for music lovers. I love music, and enjoy going to concerts, livehouse shows and listening to music at home. So I would like to make the experience of these music-related activities more interesting and interactive. The amount of neopixels on LED strips will be changed according to the frequency of the music. If every person in a concert or livehouse show puts on the LED music visualizer, they will be able to see the visualizer on the back of the person in front of them. Along with live music, the change of LEDs can provide a more immersive experience for users. It can also work at home. Individuals can put it upon the wall, play music, and enjoy the visualization. 

My prototype consists of four functional parts: LED strips, Arduino UNO, battery and sound sensor. There are 10 LED strips and each strip is composed of 6 neopixels. Each strip connects to another by wires. The battery is a 12V dry cell. In order to prevent damage to the circuit board, LED strips and the sensor, a 12V-to-5V converter has been used. The final prototype is in a backpack shape. It is made of non-woven fabric,  and there is a window to see the neopixels. I used semi-transparent TPU to make this window because I think it can slightly cover the strips, which affect the appearance of the prototype, and still can let the light of neopixels pass the window. Other parts are stored in a pocket under the window. Switching on the prototype, the leftmost LED strip will light up. Other strips are controlled by the frequency and loudness of the music. So the libraries used in this project are FastLED and ArduinoFFT.

Video of the interaction


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detail images


Arduino UNO, battery and converter are stored in this pocket.%e5%be%ae%e4%bf%a1%e5%9b%be%e7%89%87_20210416090001

I used non-conductive thread to fix the strips onto the non-woven fabric.%e5%be%ae%e4%bf%a1%e5%9b%be%e7%89%87_20210416090005The sound sensor.

Parts & Materials List

  • (1)Arduino UNO
  • (1)Sound sensor LM386
  • Wires
  • (1)One-meter long LED strip WS2812B
  • (1)DC-DC 12V to 5V converter
  • (1)12V battery
  • (1)Battery holder with button
  • Glue gun
  • Non-woven fabric
  • Translucent TPU
  • Non- conductive Thread
  • Solder Iron
  • Webbing
  • Buckle

circuit diagram




Project Context

My major research project is related to musical experience. So I would like to explore a multi-sensory way to participate in musical activity in this final project. 


The first inspiration was an audio visualizer using Arduino FFT by Chris Parker. It was made with ws2812b addressable LED strips controlled by an Arduino UNO. It was composed of a frame which was made with acrylic, plywood, and 3D Printed parts. The neopixels on the LED strips were controlled by the frequency and loudness of the music played. There were ten rows and ten columns of neopixels to constitute the colorful spectrum bands. The code of my project was based on this project, and I was inspired by his way of connecting LED strips — wires were soldered between strips, so I used the same approach to connect my LED strips. 


The second inspiration was the SubPac. SubPac is a tactile audio wearable device that transfers low frequencies directly to users’ bodies and provides them with a new physical dimension to the music experience. The SubPac allows users to feel the bass, like being in a live music show. It addresses the problem that hearing  intense bass for a long time may damage hearing and offers a more immersive experience for users. Furthermore, it can potentially help people with hearing impairment to enjoy music and prevent the sound from annoying their neighbours — they may hear music in a high volume in order to feel the vibration. I was inspired by the technological appearance and features of the SubPac. I intended to make a prototype that has both haptic and visual modules, however, my programming level was still not advanced and I lack the knowledge of how to translate frequency to vibration in code. So that will be the next step of this project.


The music to LED strip tutorial  by Yolanda Luque H. also inspired me a lot. This tutorial introduced how a RGB strip works, how to translate music to light and the idea of the code. Her LED strip changes its color according to different frequency bands. When making the prototype, I first tried this tutorial, to learn how to use an RGB strip to make a music visualizer. I used similar parts to build the prototype. However, the code didn’t work — The LED strip keeped glowing red even if I made sound beside the sound sensor. But though it was not a successful experience, it is good to know the knowledge of mapping and FFT.


The last thing that inspired me was the LED backpack. A LED backpack ofter has an LED screen, which can be controlled by bluetooth or an app, on its body. I liked the idea of putting the LED screen on the back and thought that if every audience in a live music show wore something like it would be a cool and more immersive experience.

Challenges & Successes

  • The lack of programming knowledge prevent me from making a prototype with haptic components.
  • The solder joints on the voltage converter keep peeling off and wires are easy to break.
  • The sensitivity of the sound sensor is not adjustable. So the music have to be played out loud if I want to see the change of the spectrum composed by neopixels.
  • The appearance of the final prototype looks well and the circuit works well.

next stepS

  • Learn more about how to translate frequency to vibration. Add vibrating module to the prototype.
  • Change sound sensor to an adjustable one and improve its sensitivity.


Yolanda Luque H. (2020, August). Music to LED strip tutorial (using the Fourier Transform). https://medium.com/@yolandaluqueh/music-to-led-strip-tutorial-using-fourier-transform-3d203a48fe14

Chirst Parker (2020, July). Easy Audio Visualizer Using Arduino FFT. youtube.com/watch?v=OPvW9lefkqE&list=LL&index=1&t=605s

SubPac. https://subpac.com/

Haptics Experiment


Parts & Materials


(1)Arduino Uno

(4)Keyes Vibrating motor module

Jumper wires



Circuit diagram

Simple Motor Activation


Sensory Funneling Illusion & Phi Phenomena


Sensory Saltation






One vibrating motor module was connected to Arduino Uno. I learned something basic about Arduino code by watching videos and then tried out the “Blink” and “Fade” example, running different digitalWrite and analogWrite. It was such an exciting experience to see the module started to vibrate and how the code worked!



First, I connected the modules to breadboard and Arduino Uno. Then I applied several strips of tape on the vibrating motor modules to fix them to my skin, and then wrote down their number.


The four vibrating modules were placed like a square on the back of my left hand. They vibrated at the same time and lasted for 0.2 second each time, and there was a two-second paulse between each tap. Although they were vibrating in four different positions, what I felt was the point in the center of these four modules was stumulated.


The second Illusion to be experimented is phi phenomena. I taped four vibrating motor onto my arm. The module connected to pin 13 tapped first, and then it’s 8, 2 and finally 4.  It was like the tap was originally generated from the first motor and move gradually to the last one, rather then there were four single taps.


The last one is sensory saltation, or cutaneous rabbit, which I think is the most interesting one. I used three vibrating motor modules to test this illusion, and taped them on my arm like the former experiment. Each module vibrated for 0.2 second one after another, from the no.13 to the no.2. During this process, I can feel only two stimuli, one located between no.13 and no.4, and the other located between no.4 and no.2. What’s more, they were not felt like two single stimuli; instead, it was like something moving under my skin quickly.






Weighing Bag

 Material List

(1)Conductive thread

(1)Crochet hook


(3)Alligator clips

(1)Button battery


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For more detailed tutorials of crochet, please see https://www.thesprucecrafts.com/how-to-crochet-for-beginners-979092

Circuit Diagram



Wristband by Wanqing Liu



Description and Discussion

Smart wristbands are popular in smart device market. They can provide testing and statistics of step counting, sleep, heart rate, and exercise data to users. In this assignment, I would like to build up a lo-fi prototype of a smart band, using the functions of circuit playground express.

The prototype is consisting of a band and a circuit playground express. The band is made by straps and cotton cloth. And the circuit playground express can be placed into the little cloth pocket, as well as remove from it. Methods used is sewing and coding.

This wristband is designed to monitor temperature and wake up user in the morning.

(1)By pressing the button A, user can switch on its colorful lights whose amount shows how high the temperature is (More lights represents higher temperature). If the temperature becomes higher than 36℃, all the lights will turn red, to remind user of paying attention to take measure from getting sunstroke.

(2)When the wristband prototype detect sunlight, it will play music to wake up user.

Why is twist? According to Clint Zeagler, wearable devices should avoid obstructing body movement. Twist, as is usually a place for watch, is ideal for light-weighted wearable devices and not stop people from moving.

I am new to coding, so I used MakeCode to make things easier. Codes were written by selecting and moving different modules. I have experienced some confused moment but finally I made it. What I learned from this assignment is basic knowledge of how to control my circuit playground express by code, and code logic.

Demo Video


Detail Image

I used a power bank to work as battery for powering the circuit.





Parts and materials

(2) Straps

(1) Cotton cloth

(1) Buckle

(1) Circuit playground express

(1) Power bank




The first one is the beautiful one. Second skin watch, designed by Svetlana Blum, is made in PU, LED and metal. There are two rows of LED lights in the watch, one displaying hours and the other minutes, to shows the exact time every five minutes. All the user need to do is touch the display to awaken the lights. Its shape has a sense of line, is full of classy vibe. The combination of the position of LEDs and the overall shape is just right, thus brings out the best for each other. My prototype is inspired by its use of LEDs.


The second one is not a light device but I like its inclusive function. People who visually impaired may have difficulty using common watch to look at the time. And Dot watch is a solution for this situation. It is a braille smartwatch and its users can read the time by touching its surface. It can also be connected to smartphone via an app. When someone call in, the Dot watch will display the name of the caller, then users can receive messages with ease by touching it. In my opinion, this is a useful and inclusive design, because it has well addressed the problem and is concise in appearance and simple to use.


The last one is a fitness tracker, the Atlas Wristband. The Atlas Wristband is made to monitor exercises, reps, calculates calories burned and evaluates form. What makes it different is users can see how each movement affects their body, and this wristband can track body on the x-, y- and z-axes. I also like the way that it align one edge of the rectangle to the strap’s, but I think its display interface is lack of aesthetic and a bit too large for a person who is doing exercise to carry.



Design Buzz. LED Display Turns the ‘Second Skin’ Wristwatch Into a Fashion Accessory[Blog post]. Retrived fom https://www.aminimalstudio.com/second-skin-watch

Dot Incorporation(2018). Dot Watch. Retrived from https://buy.dotincorp.com/product/dot-watch/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIiqTs9JG77gIVVTizAB2Vyw-5EAYYASABEgIWNPD_BwE

Peter Li(2014). The Atlas Wristband. Retrived from https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-atlas-wristband#/

another work

Just make for fun! I sewed a seven-color led to a glove, and it can be powered by a button battery.

Video link: https://youtu.be/2ZYz3WpLMAQ

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