LED Ukulele

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About: Product designer by day, cat lover by night.

Intro: LED Ukulele

Hi, my name is Elaine. This project combines a lot of things that I enjoy so I hope you enjoy it as well!

The LED ukulele we'll be building teaches you how to play the four most played chords: C, G, Am, and F. No previous musical experience required to start strumming along popular songs. It's a great project for both Arduino and ukulele beginner. ;) If you're looking for something a little more challenging, try the Shadow Swipe upgrade at the end of this Instructable.

Step 1: Hardware

1. A ukulele: I recommend grabbing a $30- 50 instrument off of Amazon or your local music store. We'll be drilling into the fingerboard and head plate. I also suggest a set of strings if you don't already have a set. Here's also a chart from Ukeguides.com that shows you the parts of an ukulele. It'll be helpful to get familiar with your instrument.

2. 3mm LEDs x11: We'll use a total of 12 LEDs in this project—6 in the fretboard and 5 in the head. Use whatever colors you'd like. In fact, if you'd like more LEDs on your ukulele, feel free to add as many as your Arduino board will support. For this tutorial, there must be 6 LEDs in the fretboard, but any more is up to you.

3. Arduino board: I used both a genuine Arduino Uno board and the Sparkfun equivalent. Either one will work. A bigger board with more pins will support more LEDs.

4. Wires and a basic soldering kit: If it's your first time soldering, I recommend this guide before getting started.

5. Hot glue and electrical tape

Step 2: Code

// Define LED pins

int allPins[] = {2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13};<br>int posPins[] = {8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13};
int ledPins[] = {2, 3, 4, 5, 6};
int ledNum = 6;int led_C = 8;
int led_G1 = 9;
int led_G2 = 10;
int led_G3 = 11;
int led_Am = 12;
int led_F2 = 13;

// Define global variable

int timer = 5000;

//Define pin mode

void setup() {<br>  for (int i; i < 13; i++) {
    pinMode(allPins[i], OUTPUT);
  }
}

// Game state 0: Initial sequence

//Using for loops to send commands to a chain of LEDs

for (int i; i < 5; i++) {<br>   digitalWrite(ledPins[i], HIGH);
   delay(150);
  }
  for (int i; i < 6; i++) {
   digitalWrite(posPins[i], HIGH);
  }<br>delay(2000);

// Game state 1: "C" Chord

// Begin with turning off all LED pins and lighting up only the LED representing the "C" Chord

for (int i; i < 5; i++) {digitalWrite(ledPins[i], LOW);
   delay(150);
  }
for (int i; i < 6; i++) {
   digitalWrite(posPins[i], LOW);
  }
delay(2000);
digitalWrite(led_C, HIGH);
delay(timer);
digitalWrite(led_C, LOW);
for (int i; i < 5; i++) {
   digitalWrite(ledPins[i], HIGH);
   delay(150);
  }

//Game state 2: "G" Chord

for (int i; i < 5; i++) {
   digitalWrite(ledPins[i], LOW);
  }
digitalWrite(led_G1, HIGH);
digitalWrite(led_G2, HIGH);
digitalWrite(led_G3, HIGH);
delay(timer);
digitalWrite(led_G1, LOW);
digitalWrite(led_G2, LOW);
digitalWrite(led_G3, LOW);
for (int i; i < 5; i++) {
   digitalWrite(ledPins[i], HIGH);<br>   delay(150);
  }

//Game state 3: "Am" Chord

for (int i; i < 5; i++) {
   digitalWrite(ledPins[i], LOW);
  }
digitalWrite(led_Am, HIGH);

delay(timer);

digitalWrite(led_Am, LOW);

for (int i; i < 5; i++) {digitalWrite(ledPins[i], HIGH); delay(150); }

//Game state 4: "F" Chord

for (int i; i < 5; i++) {<br>   digitalWrite(ledPins[i], LOW);<br>  }<br>digitalWrite(led_Am, HIGH);<br>digitalWrite(led_F2, HIGH);<br>delay(timer);<br>digitalWrite(led_Am, LOW);<br>digitalWrite(led_F2, LOW);<br>for (int i; i < 5; i++) {<br>   digitalWrite(ledPins[i], HIGH);<br>   delay(150);<br>  }<br>for (int i; i < 5; i++) {<br>   digitalWrite(ledPins[i], HIGH);<br>  }<br>delay(150);

// Game state 5: Ening sequence

 for (int i; i < 5; i++) {<br>   digitalWrite(ledPins[i], LOW);<br>  }<br>delay(150);<br>for (int i; i < 5; i++) {<br>   digitalWrite(ledPins[i], HIGH);<br>  }<br>delay(150);<br>for (int i; i < 5; i++) {<br>   digitalWrite(ledPins[i], LOW);<br>  }<br>for (int i; i < 5; i++) {<br>   digitalWrite(ledPins[i], HIGH);<br>   delay(150);<br>  }<br>for (int i; i < 5; i++) {<br>   digitalWrite(ledPins[i], HIGH);<br>  }<br>delay(150);<br>for (int i; i < 5; i++) {<br>   digitalWrite(ledPins[i], LOW);<br>  }<br>delay(150);<br>for (int i; i < 5; i++) {<br>   digitalWrite(ledPins[i], HIGH);<br>  }<br>delay(150);<br>for (int i; i < 5; i++) {<br>   digitalWrite(ledPins[i], LOW);<br>  }<br>delay(1000);<br>} 

Step 3: Hook Up Guide

Hooking up this project is pretty simple. Make sure to follow the hook up diagram. I recommend hooking up the circuit and testing out the code before the next step. We'll get to drill into our instrument and begin assembling all our components.

Step 4: Assembly

Part one: Unstring that ukulele. Following the diagram above, drill 4mm holes into the fretboard and head. I recommending drilling from the backside of the instrument.

Customization: I've found 3mm LEDs fit best, but I'm sure other size LED would work fine as well. Feel free to experiment—I'd love to see how your variation comes out. :)

Part two: Fit LEDs into corresponding holes of the ukulele. Once the LEDs are in place, push the pins apart as anchors to hold them in place.

Part three: Attach Arduino board to the back of the ukulele. I ended using a few spots of hot glue to attach my board.

Part four: Solder wires according to the hookup guide. Again, if it's your first time soldering, check out this guide first!

Step 5: Finish!

Finally, string up your ukulele, power up your Arduino and play away.

You'll be surprised how many songs you can now play along with just these four chord. I hope this instructable has been helpful, inspiring you to play and tinker more. Please feel free to drop me a comment if you have any questions. Otherwise, Happy playing and hope to hear from you soon! :)

Step 6: Optional: Shadow Swipe Upgrade

Did you know LEDs not only emit light but can also sense light? Inspired this odd little phenomenon, I wanted to upgrade the LED ukulele so that it will not only show you where to put your fingers but also track whether or not you've placed your finger on the correct locations.

HARDWARE

If you're interested in this build, you'll need a few additional components:

1. More LEDs: You'll need at least 6 more LEDs to serve as light sensors. Each LED on the fingerboard will get companion LED sensor.

2. I/O port expander: Depending on what Arduino board you're using, you'll likely need a port expander. I'm using an Arduino Uno board and the Sparkfun SX1509 Port Expander.

CODE

I've introduced a few more elements to the code in order to make it work. I'll break down the basics here, but feel free to download the master_tweak.ino file for the full breakdown:

1. Arrays: A special array is created to store input data from each sensor LED. A small function is called to read input data every 10 milliseconds and the array is updated almost continuously.

2. Game States: While the original build had different stages of the game, here we explicitly code in different game states each with a win condition for the game to move on.

3. LED light sensing: A whole section of the code is dedicated to reading input data from the LED light sensors. I found this tutorial particularly helpful with understanding the mechanics and hooking up the circuit.

HOOKUP GUIDE

I strongly recommend going through the Shadow Swipe tutorial to get the feel of how to hook up the LED light sensing circuit. Instead of hooking up 3 LEDs like the tutorial, this build will have you hook up 6 (See picture#1). The final hook up, if you're also using a port expander should look like picture #2.

ASSEMBLY
Assembling this upgrade is pretty straightforward. Drill an additional hole next to each LED in the fingerboard and insert the LED light sensor. Soldering up everything and you should be ready to go!

This upgrade will take a little longer to figure out, especially hooking up the circuit and soldering all the additional components in place, but the LED ukulele will also be transformed into an interactive game. Let me know how it goes for you! Good luck!

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    3 Discussions

    0
    None
    Gadisha

    3 months ago

    Nice idea, this would probably be helpfull to a lot of ukelele beginners.

    0
    None
    Penolopy Bulnick

    3 months ago

    What a fun and clever way to learn the ukulele :)