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As Colin Mann’s fingers dance along the pearly whites, filaments burn to life in front of his eyes. This midi controlled light display using edison bulbs is quite the thing to behold. The soft orange glow of these antique bulbs ads a whole new dimension to Mann’s music.

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If you were only interested in a lamp that featured these hanging antique style bulbs, you could just follow the first few steps of Colin’s great tutorial on building this. Only instead of moving on to the section where you build the complex box that determines which light will illuminate at what point in time, you’d simply wire your bulbs to the power directly.

In Colin’s case, however, he chose to connect them through a control box that takes his MIDI input and flicks the lights off and on in one of several modes:

  • CLASSIC – MIDI notes are mapped to bulbs Cn-Bn mapped to bulbs 1-12, intensity of bulbs is fully on, sustain pedal holds notes of same time, clears all bulbs when released.
  • VELOCITY – same as Classic, but intensity of bulb is controlled by the velocity of the note played.
  • SCROLLING (shown in video) – in this mode, bulbs are lit up sequentially as more notes are played, with intensity of the bulb based on velocity of the note. Releasing the sustain pedal clears the bulbs.
  • AUTOMATIC – Slow moving algorithm that creates a changing visual display in random patterns.

Check out Colin’s instructible on building this beautiful display where you would find much more information on how to assemble each piece as well as a quick introduction to relays so that you could power those bulbs.

Caleb Kraft

Community Editor for Make:
I get ridiculously excited seeing people make things. I just want to revel in the creativity of the masses! My favorite thing in the world is sharing the hard work of a maker.

I’d always love to hear about what you’re making, so send me an email any time at [email protected]


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