In a Creative Coding for Music class, I previously created a tuner using Max MSP (Cycling ‘74), a digital signal processing language. From that project I had the idea to use an Arduino to connect this tuner to lights. Then the tuner could recognize the sounds my computer microphone hears and can change the color of the lights. In order to do this, I connected the processing sketch (which receives input of the pitch through Open Sound Control) to an Arduino sketch using a serial port. 

Once I had lights correctly controlled by the audio, I just sat the strip of lights around the lab until someone would come in and talk and see how long it would take them to notice the lights changing to the inflections in their voice. This was fun.

I then determined to get started 3D printing, which I had previously never done. I ended up using the browser editor TinkerCAD to build my prototypes. My goal became to put several of these lights inside of printed out cat ears, which will be able to be velcroed onto any set of headset-style headphones.

I created several pairs of these ears, and the velcro seemed to be the way to go. Now, enjoy some wonderful photos of my glasses, forehead, and cat ears.

cat ears

I made several copies, each time trying to optimize the sturdiness of the structure and the space available to contain the lights (photo 1), the fit of the curve around the headphones (photo 2), and I’m now working on creating a blackplate (photo 3) that holds the lights in place but is easily removable for maintenance. 

Note that the second and third photos do not contain the lights. This is because after the first photo I cut and soldered three lights for each ear to fit into a triangle shape, and I am not going to be adjusting these further until I have a final model for the 3D print.

As far as I’ve gotten with this project so far, I have learned how to connect Processing to Arduino, how to use a simple CAD editor, how to 3D print on the Printrbot, how to modify my electrical structure by cutting and soldering, and generally how to manage a work plan to focus on different aspects all at once. I look forward to finalizing the design and creating a final product and perhaps using these for live performance in the coming semester.