Dimmable AC Light Box

In early 2008, the company I worked for went belly-up, and suddenly I found myself without a job. For the next few months that followed, in between job searches, I began to pick up on electronics in my newly spared time…

I went back to my original desire to make music driven lighting, and started looking for simple circuits I could begin to learn with. I learned about the Winamp plugin, Discolitez, and decided to build the most basic 8 channel circuit that ran off an LPT Port. As the circuit only required resistors, and LEDs, I knew I was capable of building it.

I built the circuit, but to my dismay, the result was lackluster at best. While it was simple to build something like a VU meter, the function of mapping LEDs to frequency bands looked like crap. With DiscoLitez, you were given the option of setting a thresholds on the volume that would trigger an LED, but the LED was either on, or off. I also accepted that using LPT port pins to drive any load directly was not best practice.

I read about using super brights with transistors, but the non-dimmable nature of the plugin really disappointed me. I made the following video using the song “Too Young” from the Venitian Snares. I chose the song as the music rapidly cuts in and out at the beginning and works well with the non-pwm lights. You could see towards the end of the video how badly the lights looked when the thresholds were met, and held..



In the hope I could make the LEDs do more than just sit there, I began playing with the more advanced “Discolitez Pro” plugin which allowed such things as strobing the LEDS, and comparing data streams with logic gates. I wrote a “desktop,” as the configurations are known as to compensate for this. I set multiple thresholds for each band, and had those feed into a logic gate that would “AND” it with different timers. The idea was the louder a band got, the faster I’d strobe the bulb. Of course this methodology is opposite of how a PWM works. I knew that the pulsing was much too slow to have any sort of noticeable PWM, and that the software was not NEARLY powerful enough. Let alone, I wasn’t even fully introduced to the concept, yet.



The results didn’t look that bad in person, but I still wanted better results. Shortly after, I thankfully got another job, but that, and paying my bills took precedence…



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About waterbury

Hi, you may also know me by my IRL name, Ted.