VUFan – VU meter


This hack isn’t really all that, but I’m giving it points for creativity. [Christopher] pulled some blue led case fans and used them to make a giant VU meter. Each I/O line has a transistor to drive a TIP120 FET. Personally, I’ll like to see even more of them stacked end to end and pulling fog from a conduit placed behind the stack.

Comments

  1. ex-parrot says:

    I don’t think I understand why he used fans… still an interesting approach. I would have used a diode ladder to control the transistors so it could be driven by any analogue audio signal.

  2. println says:

    Just for the record: the tip120 is a bipolar darlington, not a FET.

  3. agent420 says:

    i dont get the fans either.

  4. Lambda_drive says:

    @1,2

    “I used the fans initially mainly for the bright LEDs they contain, but I later decided I liked the fan effects, particularly in the upper two fans, which aren’t triggered as often as the bottom three.”

  5. Thanks for the comments, guys. Yes, I originally used them for the bright blue LEDs; I left them in the casings because they form pretty effective diffusion lenses. After I powered it up and used it for a while, I noticed that various songs would get the fans spinning at various speeds due to the beat, and the resulting pseudo-pulse-width modulation intrigued me.

  6. wraith says:

    Awesome, +10 respect points for using Damn It Feels Good to Be A Gangsta from Office Space!

    Putting them in a big sealed tube with some fog could be interesting though, as Will suggested.

  7. Buzzkill says:

    Cool. I’ve used Discolitez before. Why did you not use the full 8 channels that you can drive off the parallel port? Also, use the Pro verion of Discolitez. It is insane what you can do with it. You clearly have the whits about you to get the first 5 channels going. Finish the other 3, and or grab the other shift register circuit and start inching towards 32! Set up 4 towers of 8 fans each. Now you got some air swirlin’ led blazin’ action!

  8. @1: I wanted the future possibilities of running patterns on the array while no music is playing

    @5: Thanks, I also like will’s idea

    @6: I limited it to 5 because of the number of fans I had on hand. If I can get more fans, I’d love to expand it. I’d probably use Strobe and Auto Feed to do the multiplexing, something like that. I’d also be very interested, if I can find 5 or 11 more fans, to put a second column on the other side of the pole so I can do left and right visualization independently.

  9. ChiTownJerry says:

    At the very least, put some metallic streamers on the fans so you can see the the fans revving up. Well done!

  10. Chupa says:

    You could eliminate the need for the PC all together if you used something like a LM4970.
    http://www.national.com/pf/LM/LM4970.html

  11. nathan belomy says:

    That was so rad man. I wish that I could make one of those. For reals, that is going to be on the next rap video yo.

  12. @8: Interesting idea.
    @9: Thanks :)
    @6 again: Checked out DiscoLitez2 Pro, it’s seriously amazing. I’m definitely considering finding or buying more fans and expanding this more now. :)

  13. neil says:

    TIP120’s are darlington pair NPN transistors not FETs.

  14. jaromil says:

    the german project blinkenlights has done this already with leds and even lights in buildings.

    just two weeks ago at the CCC camp there were two HUGE light vumeters (about 3m high, 1m diameter) out of the concert hangar.

    nice hack anyway. yes i thought it was cool. make it bigger :)

  15. Actually, I was thinking ping-pong balls on the suggestions of several of my colleagues.

  16. mad_cow says:

    10 points using Nightwish,

    I think fog would be an amazing idea, also maybe some lazers?

  17. Vladsinger says:

    Will repeatedly revving the fans up and down kill the motors eventually?

  18. Guitar Maniac says:

    @ #15 – the amount of wear would be miniscule and would come from the brushes in the motor wearing (if it even has brushes). I would think that lower revolutions would increase longevity but I think would use more power.

    @Creator – Awesome dude, please keep us posted!!

  19. srilyk says:

    These fans actually would be a lot like rotary speakers – speakers designed for the 0-60hz range.

    Of course they represent a higher range of sound… interesting

  20. They’re brushless case fans, so I doubt that wear and tear will be much of a problem. So far I reconfigured it to use all 7 fans for the visualization, with the two multicolor ones at the top. I’m looking into lasers, fog, etc etc.

  21. AJ says:

    Interesting work, check this out, it may inspire you to take things further: http://www.uva.co.uk/wp/wp-content/projects/volume/volume.mp4

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