Syyn Labs’ Glowing DNA

This beautiful music syncronized double helix was made by Syyn labs. Last time we saw them, they had created that amazing rube goldberg style music video for OK Go. This 100 foot long LED DNA strand took over 1000 combined man hours to build. It took 512 LEDs, 32 LED controllers, 4 Arduinos, 4 computers, over a mile of wire and a very dedicated team, which included [Eliot Phillips]. It takes input from beatmatching/VU software as well as a 32 button console or an iPad. You can catch a video of it in action after the break, and they plan on releasing a timelapse of the build in the near future.


  1. Fallen says:

    :D cool

  2. ftorama says:
  3. Johannes Burgel says:

    Looks pretty crappy for that amount of work. What do they need FOUR computers for? A single computer with a decent interface can do this, and also replace the Arduinos.

  4. pff says:

    what was even the point.
    seriously who has money for this and goes i know i’ll get loads of lights that look a bit like DNA.
    i don’t think i will ever understand people who do this kind of thing.

  5. macegr says:

    It was for the GLOW festival in Santa Monica, there were about 100,000 people and many other light sculptures on the coast so it’s not like they woke up one morning and did this. RTFA

  6. Erik Johnson says:

    lol, raver twirling glowsticks in the background.
    Wish the animations they ran on it were more fluid/variable rate, its a bit too abrupt for me but a cool job nonetheless.

  7. Nomadiq says:

    I was at Glow last year – awesome fun. I’m now east-side and missed out which is a shame.

    This might sound nit-picking, but the article clearly says this thing is suppose to represent double helix DNA. From the video, it looks like a single helix to me. DNA of course does have a double helix with a major and minor groove. This thing is not a model of DNA, but a model of a spring. There is a world of difference.


  8. andar_b says:

    Nope, look again, there are two ‘spirals’ intertwined, if you watch the lights you can see it.

    Now, the PICTURE shows a single helix lit, which is kinda misleading.

  9. Nomadiq says:

    I don’t see it in the video, but I can’t definitely not see it :) Perhaps you are right.


  10. Ford says:

    It’s very clearly a double helix at 0:03.

    Are there any details that might explain why it took 4 computers?

  11. lee says:
  12. lee says:

    You can find a few more videos shot by attendees… but what gets me is the concept looks so much cleaner. I’m almost wondering if they would’ve used a different material (like a hollow rod) to achieve a straighter effect instead of gravity…

  13. xeracy says:

    @ Erik J – Glow sticking is the shit. Met some awesome people who kill at doing it. Beats the kids with LED gloves that are so prevalent today.

  14. xeracy says:

    also, looks like LED ball poi, not wrapping glowsticks :D

  15. pickleweasel says:

    I hate to contribute to the nit picking, but this just looks like two single helices intertwined, not seeing the characteristic major and minor grooves you see in DNA. Might just be due to the angle of the vid though.

  16. Eliot says:

    Both spirals are lit in the first image. The low angle makes it very hard to see the start of the left half.

    One computer was the DJ’s which sent the audio clock to the computer running the animations. Each Arduino had an ethernet shield which was updated continuously using UDP.

    There was a remote terminal that the audience could use to change the patterns, that was another computer.

    You could also change patterns using TouchOSC on a iPad (I guess that’s the 4th computer?)

    This is just first iteration; hanging rod just didn’t fit the budget.

    Styrofoam brand polystyrene makes awesome LED diffusers. The 32 Octobrite Defillipis from Macetech worked flawlessly.

    Bonus fact: For speed of wiring we used 66 blocks.

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