New Guide: Make a Sound-Reactive LED Ukulele with NeoPixels

Swing into summer with our latest tutorial from Erin St. Blaine: make a light-up, sound and motion reactive ukulele with NeoPixel strips and a Feather NRF52840 Sense microcontroller. The onboard microphone and accelerometer in the Feather Sense pick up the volume of your strumming, for a seamless sound reactive mode that works with all the different customizable LED animations.

This ukulele also has a motion-reactive mode and uses FFT technology for note-sensing. Pluck a high A note and the ukulele will cycle between animation modes. We think that’s pretty neat!

From the guide:

Ukuleles are little joy machines. They’re easy to play, portable, light, and really inexpensive – you can get a fairly good sounding one for around $40-$50.

This clear plastic ukulele from Kala simply begs to be upgraded with rainbow lights. Engineer an over-the top tacky Tiki musical experience for your audience at your next luau.

This LED ukulele goes even further, with loads of customizable animations and a sound reactive mode. Match your animation playlist with your song repertoire, and bring the music to life as your uke pulses along with your strumming.

We’ve also used the FFT capabilities of our hardware to add note-sensing to this project. Change animation modes or turn sound reactive mode on or off just by plucking a particular note on your fretboard.

And just for giggles, we’ve added a Guitar-Hero-style “Rockstar tilt” mode — tilt the neck of your ukulele up during your big finish to trigger a colorful lightning animation.

This ukulele is maika’i loa! (That’s Hawaiian for awesome..)

See the full build tutorial here: https://learn.adafruit.com/light-up-reactive-ukulele/overview


As 2022 starts, let’s take some time to share our goals for CircuitPython in 2022. Just like past years (full summary 2019, 2020, and 2021), we’d like everyone in the CircuitPython community to contribute by posting their thoughts to some public place on the Internet. Here are a few ways to post: a video on YouTub, a post on the CircuitPython forum, a blog post on your site, a series of Tweets, a Gist on GitHub. We want to hear from you. When you post, please add #CircuitPython2022 and email circuitpython2022@adafruit.com to let us know about your post so we can blog it up here.

Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.

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