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Need help with setting up a light system for a float for my old elementary school.

  1. Oct 10, 2014 #1
    Hey physics forums!
    I was asked by my elementary school to help set up a system to make lights flash with the beat of music on a parade float. I'm a nuke engineer student at purdue but I think this is within my grasp. If It is too expensive or too much to make Christmas light flash with the beat just set them to an appeasing pattern is my next best thing. My base idea is to just use a computer tell a psu to turn on and turn off according to some input from the music. Maybe using a midi file or something. I don't know. But I have access to any program or programming compiler at purdue. Thankyou for any help.

  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 10, 2014 #2


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    What you're wanting to make is called a light organ. Do a google image search and you'll find tons of circuits.



    Also you could buy a kit like this.

    http://www.xkitz.com/images/XLO-5_Light_Organ.JPG [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2017
  4. Oct 12, 2014 #3


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    I looked on eBay and saw a lot of sound to light boxes for sub 100GBP prices. Bear in mind that the expensive part of what you want to do will be more in the power switching circuitry and putting it in a box with a power supply, than the control electronics. You may find the cheapest solution would be to buy something off the shelf and do the electronics project for your own enjoyment later on.
    Are you talking in terms of 12V lighting or mains voltages? Then there's the Health and Safety aspect, too.
  5. Oct 13, 2014 #4
    A common name for these is Light Organ.. I built one when I was 12 ? it was a Kit but it is for 120 VAC.- so need to know what is your power source? ( battery, the the tow vehicle, a small generator??.. You can buy a kit from Vellman - or other co's --- I am assuming you really do not want to learn the whole theory behind it(still a great learning project)... The trick is for a float you need a lot of light. LEDs are efficient -- but expensive - if you want to use Christmas light strings -- a reasonable approach, you need to check the wattage ( total power) needed and make sure the system you buy / work on is sufficient to drive the lights.
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