PartyMode 2.0: The One-Room Instant Disco
Published by KermMartian 9 years, 10 months ago (2014-06-22T14:58:32+00:00) | Discuss this article

In 2007, while working on my undergraduate EE degree, a colleague and I came up with a system called PartyMode. It was meant to turn a computer lab into an instant party, complete with a powerful surround sound system (MSS 24.4), computer monitors that would pulse colors along to music (DiscoScreens), a VU meter made from LED-lighted PC case fans (VUfan), and more. The history of the original PartyMode is long and tragic, but in the end, politics forced it to be dismantled before it was completed. Fast-forward to 2011, when I first started imagining a miniature version of PartyMode with many of the same features as the original, including the VUfan meter, surround sound, and powerful RGB LEDs replacing the sound-reactive computer monitors. In addition, I wanted the new PartyMode to no longer require a computer to perform the audio processing, and if possible, to retain the ability to be remotely controlled. I'm happy to announce the completion of PartyMode 2.0, which offers all these features and more.

PartyMode 2.0 is an integrated lighting and audiovisual system for the dual purposes of creating useful lighting modes and creating an "instant party". The final PartyMode 2.0 system comprises the control circuitry, seven LED-lighted PC case fans forming a VU meter, and four high-power RGB LEDs arranged into two channels of two LEDs each. In the audio-reactive modes, the LED brightness corresponds to the intensity of the music, and the colors change whenever a strong beat is detected. In the other modes, the LEDs and fans are configured in some static setup or pattern. Controlled by a smartphone app or Bluetooth serial console, the system can be put into the following modes:
  • Off: System will not react to anything
  • Audio fans: VUfan VU meter will react to audio input
  • Audio fans + lights: Both fans and LEDs will respond to audio input
  • Candlelight: LEDs simulate the intensity, color, and physics of gentle candlelight. Also called "romantic mode"
  • Dim lights: All LEDs set to 25% intensity
  • Full lights: All LEDs set to 100% intensity. Not recommended for extended use due to LED and TIP120 heat generation
  • Fading lights: Lights start at full and slowly fade to off. Good for setting before climbing into bed.
  • Colors: LEDs constantly fade slowly around the RGB spectrum.
  • Fans Only: All fans are powered for illumination and ventilation; LEDs are off.
  • Solid Color: The color selection area can be used to select a color and intensity for all LEDs.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, than a video should be worth at least 24,000 words per second; check out the video below to see PartyMode 2.0 in action. It demonstrates PartyMode 2.0 with three songs; it also demonstrates the cross-fading color and illumination modes. If you're interested in creating your own PartyMode system, the Android app to control PartyMode, the schematics and board layouts for the controller, the ATmega328 firmware, and full details of the system's design are available here on Cemetech. You can also check out more photos of PartyMode 2.0 as well as the few photos that exist of the original PartyMode.

More Information
PartyMode 2.0 documentation, history, and photos