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How to Sequence LEDs to Music: A Tutorial by Freaklabs

Akiba of Freaklabs helped design sequenced lighting like those used in the Wreaking Crew Orchestra shows.

With the Holidays upon us, why drag out those crusty, old display lights when you could create your own sequenced displays? Make your home the envy of the neighborhood. Sequenced lighting allows users to program lights to illuminate or turn off with specified timing and can be found almost everywhere from airport runways to eye-popping dance routines from troupes such as the Wrecking Crew Orchestra. Speaking of which, one of the technicians that worked with the popular Japanese dance group has posted a project breakdown of his wireless sequenced lighting system on his Freaklabs website.

Akiba designed his wireless sequenced lighting system using an Arduino and Vixen software.

Akiba designed his system around a Freaklabs Freakduino, which is essentially an Arduino IDE with an integrated wireless radio with a data-rate of up to 1Mbps, and pairs it up with Vixen software to control LEDs in a programmed sequence. To control the LEDs wirelessly, his build uses a pair of Freakduinos, one to act as the base and the other acting as the receiver, which can control an LED configuration in almost any array or pattern.


In the first video, Akiba walks viewers through a basic understanding of how to build his sequenced lighting platform by breadboarding an LED circuit that’s connected directly to the Freakduino in much the same fashion as an Arduino Shield. He then programs the LEDs to strobe in sequence to music using Vixen Light’s programming software, which makes it easy to pair the two together using a drag-and-drop interface.


After demonstrating how to program the LED data packets using Arduino code to get them to flash in a certain sequence, Akiba then shows how to convert the static system into a wireless configuration that makes use of a pair of Freakduinos to illuminate a series of LED strips that flash in time with music. While it may take a some time to build your own LED sequencer, you can rest assured it will look impressive even on a small scale. Akibo goes into even more detail on the Freaklabs website.