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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


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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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