Fabricating a music-controlled stoplight

[Andrew] built himself a stoplight that flashes along with the music. Unlike the traffic signal we checked in on a year ago, this one’s not a reused municipal fixture. [Andrew] imported a 3D model into Sketchup, printed out the results, and traced them onto Bristol board to make his templates. He cut out the parts, used a brake for the bending, then a combination of spot and MIG welding to complete the housing. Off to his school’s spray booth for priming, baking, and painting for a perfect finish.

The internals are what you’d expect. Each light source is made up of a cluster of LEDs controlled by an Arduino. Music¬†synchronization¬†is handled by a Processing script that [Andrew] wrote, which you can see in action after the break.

16 thoughts on “Fabricating a music-controlled stoplight

  1. Great fabrication job, but I really fail to see any “dancing” of the lights, it doesn’t seem to follow any recognizable beat or pattern. Also -10 for the music… :/

  2. I am disappointed that the light source is so small. It does not look like a traffic light because there is no lens or diffuser and the light appears as a point source. The entire round light needs to be illuminated.

  3. P.S. though you probably can’t tell at first glance, the red light is actually _on_ in the HaD post left side image… look for the little cluster of LEDs in the center of the red light.

  4. Actual traffic lights are readily available on Ebay and even directly from municipalities (used). I don’t see the need to fabricate your own. Nice work though.

  5. He could of spent a little more time with the light support internals (wood / ziptie). I would agree with the ideal of using a used traffic light as well. The leg modules are available in 12v and 120v and as low as 10w. The housing looks great.

  6. @Joe: I’d guess the reasons for fabrication your own light would be weight and size. Standard issue stoplights are large and very heavy. The website notes this light is 1:2 scale.

  7. Looks like something I had back in the 70’s (Without Arduino, of course).
    Mine, though, was actually following the music.
    This one does absolutely not sync with the music, not even by chance.
    Nice casing, though.

  8. @ColinB and @BenWright,

    It doesn’t have to produce light in the same way that a real traffic light does. It’s just a decoration for a stage or a party. It only has to give the revelers the impression of a traffic light, not convince drivers to hit the brakes.

    Being a decoration, size and weight are probably important considerations. A real traffic light is made of heavy duty materials, such as cast aluminum. A lightweight sheet-metal box is going to be much easier to carry to and from shows.

    The only reason to go with a used light would be cost. And if he had fun making this one, well, there’s more reason to do it.

  9. @jaded
    Thanks, You have done a great job of articulating my motivation and intent when making this project. I really did enjoy making the sheet metal case. I learned a lot about sheet metal and welding when working on this. If you had access to an old traffic light, it would be interesting to retrofit it with modern electronics.

  10. @hackaday staff — pERfect finish, not pREfect finish

    @jaded — I agree with you it doesn’t have to be exactly like a regular traffic light.

    I will say however that I’m disappointed at how dim it is, the amber is really overpowered by the red and green. It looks so dim that if there was say, ten guys with a glow-stick in the room, it would be hard to see.

    If I made this I would have used way more LEDs, you can get 100 packs off of eBay for around $5 each, and just fill each lens area.

    Excellent work on the enclosure though!

  11. Now if only Bob Marley was still around and president of the world. His music to these lights instead of current traffic lights. Nice! First Win of the New Year

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