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About four years ago, a few friends and I designed and partially constructed a system we called PartyMode. It combined a VU meter made of seven 80mm PC case fans, a distributed visualizer called DiscoScreens that would flash sixteen CRTs of solid colors in time to music, and a fairly extensive music system with, at one point, 22.4 channels worth of audio driven by a 5.1-channel sound card. Unfortunately, various circumstances led to that project never reaching completion, and has long since been dismantled. I have recently toyed with the idea again, and have resurrected a miniature version of PartyMode, dubbed PartyMode 2.0. It provides the same 7-fan VUFan VU meter, four LCDs of DiscoScreens, a 5.1-channel audio system, and has a third planned component, a set of 1-Watt or 3-Watt high-power RGB LEDs that will flash colors matching the DiscoScreens brightnesses and colors to illuminate the room. Check out the current system, sans LEDs, in action in the video below:

Heh, that looks pretty nice.
souvik1997 wrote:
Heh, that looks pretty nice.
Thanks Souvik. Smile I am happy to have this project up and running again. For people curious about the specifics, the computer-everything else interface is an Arduino, sadly; I have a parallel port on this motherboard that I could use for the VUFans, but I need an analog output to PWM the RGB LEDs. Winamp interfaces with a piece of software called DiscoLites, which performs signal processing and writes to a network pipe. A C++ program I wrote called VUFanAdapter reads from this pipe, formats the data for the Arduino, and pipes it over serial. The Arduino separates it out, controls the fans, and PWMs the LED (soon to be LEDs).
If you don't mind me asking, what is the purpose of PartyMode?
adamac15 wrote:
If you don't mind me asking, what is the purpose of PartyMode?
PartyMode 1 turned a lab into basically a party space (although it never got used for that purpose); the term I made up for it was "transformable spaces". By day it was a computer lab that happened to have a few speakers in the corners, but with the press of a giant red button I put at the front of the room (and the flip of three ridiculously cool switches with red plastic covers and embedded LEDs), I could turn off the lights in the room (gogogo actuators and clever mechanical design), initialize the speaker system and Discoscreens across all the computers in the lab, and start pumping music and awesome lights and colors through the lab. We had even planned to do the LED thing that I'm re-planning now, plus a discoball to descend from the ceiling, but unfortunately for several reasons we were never able to finish the project.
adamac15 wrote:
If you don't mind me asking, what is the purpose of PartyMode?


Back in 2006 few MIT students thought it would be a cool idea to have a big red button to initiate a party:



Quite a few people replicated this idea, including Kerm.
They developed their idea independently; I only recently heard about that.
KermMartian wrote:
They developed their idea independently; I only recently heard about that.


O rly?
Oh, I did find out about it earlier, but you see I had already independently designed my own:

KermMartian wrote:
Old news. My roommates and I are designing a similar thing, to be controlled by our home automation system.
I see. It looks pretty cool (from what I've seen from the 2 pics). I would like to see it in action one day.
adamac15 wrote:
I see. It looks pretty cool (from what I've seen from the 2 pics). I would like to see it in action one day.
There's a video in that first post; can you not play it? Sad And thanks!
blocked at school, and slow to load at home (stupid dial up Mad )
Nice work. I remember you showing me the fans when I visited, and I thought it was cool.
I should try something like this using the 5.1 surround sound system my dad set up in my living room 5 years ago...
merthsoft wrote:
Nice work. I remember you showing me the fans when I visited, and I thought it was cool.
Thanks shaun. Smile My biggest difficulty right now is finding affordable high-power RGB LEDs that aren't from shading Chinese distributors with terrible consumer reviews and/or months-long shipping.

Edit: DShiznit, you definitely should! You can do the DiscoScreens stuff with no hardware, but the RGB LED illumination and VUFans requires that you either have an Arduino or other microcontroller, or a parallel port.
KermMartian wrote:
Edit: DShiznit, you definitely should! You can do the DiscoScreens stuff with no hardware, but the RGB LED illumination and VUFans requires that you either have an Arduino or other microcontroller, or a parallel port.


Why not connect the fans and lights to relays and wire them to the equalizer?
KermMartian wrote:
Oh, I did find out about it earlier, but you see I had already independently designed my own:

KermMartian wrote:
Old news. My roommates and I are designing a similar thing, to be controlled by our home automation system.


Note the tense.
Ultimate Dev'r, I don't need to defend the originality of my ideas to you, I'm happy enough knowing what I came up with on my own. Razz

DShiznit wrote:
KermMartian wrote:
Edit: DShiznit, you definitely should! You can do the DiscoScreens stuff with no hardware, but the RGB LED illumination and VUFans requires that you either have an Arduino or other microcontroller, or a parallel port.


Why not connect the fans and lights to relays and wire them to the equalizer?
Which equalizer do you mean? I'm doing the VU meter division in software, and outputting the signals via Arduino (previously, parallel port).
I was thinking a set of relays and resistors that get power from the Stereo. The louder and more amplified the sound, the more relays are tripped and the more lights turn on. No software needed. I could also do something similar to disco screens with LEDs and plexi-glass(possibly using circuitry from some of those light stands you put the acrylic blocks on with the laser-etched shapes), eliminating the need for expensive monitors.

EDIT- Actually, I wonder if I could use just the contents of my electronics scrap bin as a constraint and try to build something cool like this with just those assorted parts...
You certainly could! Doing the VU meter purely in electromechanics is not a great idea, but luckily there's an IC that does exactly what you're talking about, the LM3915. Check out this page of example applications:

http://sound.westhost.com/project60.htm

I saw that the relay trip thing is a bad idea because (1) you'd have to isolate and amplify the signal to the extreme, even if you used power transistors instead of relays, and (2) most VU meters are logarithmic (since sound is logarithmic) rather than linear.
  
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