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Guitar Hero note visualizer

Arduino Fun & Games
Guitar Hero note visualizer

Joe Bowers sends this in:

I set up an Arduino to read the notes on Guitar Hero and flash an LED to that corresponding note. I used this ambient light sensor, from Sparkfun to read the changes in value on the screen. When something bright flashes in front of it, the Arduino will turn on an LED for as long as that brightness is there.

I love the stands he built to position the sensors in front of each fret on his TV; they’re modified plant sprinkler stakes from the hardware store!


Joe’s ultimate plan is to have this play Guitar Hero for him.


You can pick up an Arduino Duemilanove, an Adafruit ProtoShield, and a breadboard and jumper wire in the Maker Shed.

8 thoughts on “Guitar Hero note visualizer

  1. Jon says:

    Very cool – I’ve seen a very complex one that actually involved pulling data straight off the video cable and reading across one of the horizontal lines to detect the notes.

    A simple ambient light sensor is going to be less accurate than that, but infinitely simpler. In fact, this is basically set up to play GH right now! Just pull apart the guitar hero controller and close the appropriate switch (most likely with a pull-up resistor and then grounding the micro output) and some logic to pulse another pin to strum…that’s it! I might try this one myself!

  2. Jeff says:

    I did something similar to this a few months ago.
    Instead of putting light sensors on the TV, I wrote a program that watches the TV using a webcam. It looks at the image, sees that a note is coming up and then sends the note to be played to the arduino, which was connected into a GHIII controller.

  3. John Park says:

    Jeff, very nicely done! (I fixed your URL, the original one lead nowhere).

  4. Buhric says:

    I actualy modded a Guitar to have an Arduino Nano attached to so that it plays GH3
    I managed to get it to play TTFAF at expert and did 100%

    but instead or reading the Lights on the screen I created a “notes” file and loaded in the Arduino.

    if you want to see the 1st (using an external Arduino Decimila) working version of my setup in work.. check this YouTube link

    I’ll be making a new video that shows the new modded guitar with a socket for the Arduino Nano

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John Edgar Park likes to make things and tell people about it. He builds project for Adafruit Industries. You can find him at and twitter/IG @johnedgarpark

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