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.

21 thoughts on “VUFan – VU meter

  1. 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. @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.”

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

  6. @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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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 :)

  9. @ #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!!

  10. 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

  11. 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.

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