Matt Katzenstein, an electrical engineering student at Union County College in New Jersey, has created his own personal disco light show that strobes to a beat. He created the gadget with a handful of components and some electroluminescent wire, also known has EL wire. He uses his Android smartphone as a source of music and then connects some EL wire with a few inexpensive components between the two. The result is lighted wire that pulses to the beat of the music. The same gadget can be connected to different sources of music and different lights.
EL wire! Neat. Also nice to see young future engineers having fun with technology unheard of when I was a kid.
In junior HS (back around 1958) I entered a science fair with an exhibit of traffic safety control devices. I built a radio controlled traffic light intersection that could be controlled by an approaching emergency vehicle. It used 27 MHz model airplane remote control hardware. Another "invention" was the use of electroluminescent panels embedded in asphalt at intersections and crosswalks to provide illuminated lines for great night time visibility.
Also around that time or maybe in the early 1960's, color organs were quite popular. I built one with junk bin parts, audio transformers, capacitors and inductors for frequency bandpass filtering and three stud mounted triacs. It would flash red, green and blue floodlights in time to the music and depending upon frequency. It was simplistic but it worked. It required a few watts of drive from the voice coil output of a radio or HiFi amplifier. I still have the bulbs though the home brew controller is long gone.
Back in the 70's we used to change the operating color from a plug-in EL night light by changing the frequency of the supply voltage. For demonstration purposes using a 120 volt to 6.3 volt transformer, connecting the 6.3 volt secondary winding to the output of an amplifer driven by a variable frequency audio generator. The 120 volt primary winding of the transformer was connected to the EL panel. Being very careful not to get a shock from the 120 volt connections at the EL panel nor over driving the EL with excessive voltage, we could get a narrow range of colors from deep purple to green by changing the frequency of the generator. We used to refer to EL panels as light emitting capacitors.
There are people like me who love the peace and quiet. Maybe I could enjoy sounds without having them destroy my peace and quiet. You've got the beat and volume showing, now flash in the words with the proper "tone" showing. Then "sparkle" in some over/under tones. Interesting.
Interesting, Alex. I think GE produced EL night lights back in the '70's and they glued a penny to each cardboard package, because the company claimed it would only cost one cent to run the nightlight for a year. I haven't seen those night lights in years. The ones on the market now probably use LEDs. At night there's enough light from LEDs and vacuum fluorescent displays in our kitchen, family room, and bedrooms to make navigating easy. I wonder how much electricity these always-on displays and indicators waste.
I saw that, too, Jon, where Google points to places you can get incredibly inexpensive EL panels. It made me vaguely recall when EL panels were a big deal in the early 1970s, in Popular Electronics. That's what I thought and when I did a search, it turns out I was correct. Here's a 1984 EL panel patent, which references a 1971 Popular Electronics article on an El Panel Driver.
I just checked for EL-wire suppliers and found many on Amazon that sell this product in a variety of colors and lengths for less than $10. Some of the packages include a power supply that takes AA or AAA batteries. Heck, I might even get some for my lab. Search Amazon for "electroluminescent wire," but without the quotes. Happy shopping.
I like this idea and think my grandson and granddaughter would like it, too. They're too young to have a cell phone, but we have lots of CDs around. Worth looking into, as long as I can buy some of the EL "wire."
In our third annual contest, Design News and Allied Electronics are going to crown a winner in early 2016 for the best reader gadget submission this year, and once again, you, the readers, are the judges!
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