A Hard Rocking Arduino Visualization Shield

Over the summer [ElectroSmash] put the finishing touches on the Arduino Audio Meter, a shield for the Arduino Uno that visualizes various aspects of an incoming audio signal on a set of four 8×8 LED dot matrices. Obsentisibly it’s for use on a guitar pedalboard, but thanks to the incredible documentation and collection of example code provided by the team, the project promises to be an excellent platform for all sorts of audio experimentation.

Incoming audio is amplified with an MCP6002 and fed into the Uno’s Analog to Digital Converter, where it’s processed via whatever Sketch the user has uploaded. User input is provided by a digital encoder with push-button. A set of four MAX7219 chips control the entire 256-pixel matrix with just three pins on the Arduino. The resolution of the display allows the Arduino Audio Meter to show more than just a simple VU meter, it can even do text and basic graphics.

[ElectroSmash] provides various Sketches for use with the Arduino Audio Meter that provide the expected repertoire of audio visualizations, but they also provide a number of interesting Sketches to expand the capabilities of the device in unexpected ways. Some of them could be useful for a stage musician, such a tool to tune your guitar, whereas others are fun uses of the hardware such as a game of “Snake”.

With the entire project released as open source, users are free to run wild with the Arduino Audio Meter. Writing your own custom software is an obvious first step to making the project your own, but adding additional hardware features and functions certainly aren’t out of the question either.

Our very own [Lewin Day] once walked us through the effort involved in building boutique guitar pedals, and while the Audio Audio Meter’s capabilities are somewhat limited as it doesn’t have the ability to change the audio going through it, we’re still interested in seeing what the community will come up with once they have an easy way to bring their ideas to life.

7 thoughts on “A Hard Rocking Arduino Visualization Shield

  1. Looks great and is suitably useless I like it.

    Personally I like the idea of a tuner. Perhaps it could even use your guitar as input.
    High e for yes, low e for no.

    Strum up and down to navigate!

    1. Thats a cool idea, right now we have 2 tuners in the forum, one gives you the frequency you are playing and the frequency that you have to aim for to be completely in tune and the other one has a bar that hits the centre when you are in tune.

      But I really think that the YES – NO option is soo cool, I will get some time to code it :)

  2. this is really cute, but i don’t really get why they do anything compatible with the classic arduino uno form factor. it is the least efficient space usage inside the box. you could just put another linear regulator and socket for an actual atmega 328p on the board. or one is really into the usb+modular approach, then headers for a nano (knockoff).

    1. But why? The guitar pedal form factor is pretty big, so there’s no incentive for making the design smaller. Plus they aren’t trying to sell the Arduino itself, just the shield. So let the user plug in their own Arduino.

    2. The UNO doesn’t really add that much to the size, since the LED matrix takes up about the same. True, there are smaller Arduino options, but figure there are plenty of UNO sitting off to the side, seldom used, because of the size. It’s available, lot of people have them, many of those moved on to using smaller ones. Really a smart choice. Why buy new parts for every project? Specially, if it’s just for a one off, or limited quantity build. How many of these would an individual actually need, or want? This is the cheapest, simplest way to share a cool gadget. Minimal customer service obligations as well.

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