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[Mod] DIY Disco/Club Lighting


moonlit
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Just had a conversation on IRC about really really cheap 'disco lights' and I thought I may as well post up here 'cos it's cool...

Aim: To make some lights that sync to music for as cheap as possible and as simply as possible.

Requirements: A reasonably powerful amplifier, some wire, a few spare xmas light bulbs or flashlight bulbs.

Method:

First of all attatch two wires to your light bulb(s), one on each of the two terminals/wires.

Plug the other ends of the wires in to the speaker output of the amplifier, adding a compatible connector if required. Polarity (which way round they go, + and -) isn't important. Add a couple of lights to the left channel output and a couple on the right channel for an interesting effect.

Connect your amp to a suitable sound source. I used the rear channel of my sound card because that way I can easily have my lights and my audio on at the same time without any messing about.

Turn on your amplifier, turn down the volume and play some music.

Slowly turn up the volume and you should now be watching your lights pulsating to the music. You'll probably get the best effect with the volume up quite loud, depending on the output of the amp you may have to turn it right up, play with the equaliser if the amp has one. More bass = brighter lights, especially when there's a bass kick in the music. Music with a heavy beat works best but experiment with different tracks, see what comes you come up with.

So normally the set up would be:

                                          [Left Speaker]

[PC]=====[AMP]=====|

                                          [Right Speaker]

Here's what it looks like post-mod:

                                          [Left Bulb(s)]

[PC]=====[AMP]=====|

                                          [Right Bulb(s)]

You'll find that placing a CD spool lid over each bulb or set of bulbs gives a nice effect, it gives a sort of frosted effect to the light and stops your eyes hurting as much when you stare at them ;)

Results:

http://www.stickam.com/viewMovieGallery.do?uId=173815693

There's a few videos of when I just did that a few minutes ago. I'd done it before so I knew it'd work, that's how quick it is though... if you have wire and bulbs it takes less than 5 minutes to get it working :D

Apologies for the crappy video/audio quality, it looks much better in RL.

It seems stickam.com is having problems so it may or may not be available right now. If not, try again later.

Add a couple of old speaker enclosures or maybe a DIY light box enclosure and maybe even coloured bulbs or filters and you have your very own ghetto-tastic 'disco'/club lights :D

Disclaimer:

Neither moonlit or Hak5 are responsible for any damage to equipment or personal injury, proceed with this mod at your own risk. Amplifiers aren't built to run light bulbs, maybe choose an amp you're not going to need.

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This also came up as a result of the mod discussion:

http://rybitski.googlepages.com/musicsyncr...christmaslights

It does not depend on how big your amp is, as it uses a simple bridge rectifier, and Solid State Relay to do the driving with AC wall power.

As always: BE CAREFUL when using wall AC outlets. Hook up something wrong, and you could burn your house down.

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As always: BE CAREFUL when using wall AC outlets. Hook up something wrong, and you could burn your house down.

...or worse seriously injure or even kill yourself. If you're not comfortable/experienced with working around mains (or any) electricity then please get someone who is to help you. As always be careful but have fun. :)

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  • 2 weeks later...

I used replacement christmas light bulbs in mine 'cos I picked them up for like 30p (50 cents?)at a jumble sale, though as Wess mentioned I used a pretty hefty amp to power them. The advantage though is if you do have a big enough amp they're pretty bright. I think a car amp would do nicely, should kick out enough juice for real bulbs... if 12v lights aren't bright enough try a couple of 6v flashlight bulbs.

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