Real-Time Music Visualizer

Real-Time Music Visualizer

This tutorial will show you how to make a music visualizer with an Arduino and LED strips.

This project can be connected to any music source. The LED strip will then display excellent multicolored light shows synchronized with your music. This project is perfect for DJ booths, parties, and even in your dorm.


  • Arduino Pro Mini (SparkFun, P/N 11113; additional headers are available at P/N 00116.
  • FTDI Basic Breakout (SparkFun N 09716; this programming dongle is required to program the Arduino Pro Mini.
  • 2 NeoPixel strips, Adafruit P/N 1406, or SparkFunP/N 12661; this eight-LED RGB strip.
  • DS1307 RTC Breakout Board, SparkFun P/N 12788, or Adafruit 255/3013.
  • SparkFun P/N10969 is a good multi-pack that includes a 470 O resistor
  • Enclosure (My enclosure measured 85 mm x 55mm on the largest side, and was 30 mm deep. You can search online for its P/N WCAH2855 to find it. Similar parts are the 3x2x1 project enclosure from RadioShack (P/N 2701801).
  • Watchband (Any generic rubber or nylon watchband will do. I purchased a knockoff of the iWatch band on Amazon.
  • 9 V battery pack with battery. A standard 9 V connector with wire ends; Jameco P/N. 109154. SparkFun P/N 00091 snap connector can be used to cut the plug.
  • Button (I used a SparkFun panel-mount momentary but from SparkFun P/N 11992. The smaller the better. If you wish to keep the display on until it turns off, you can swap the button for a switch.
  • Screws (I used M2x10 mm screws from HobbyKing, P/N: HA0506.

This small Arduino offers the same Arduino experience, but without all the bells or whistles. It can fit into a small enclosure. You can’t program it via USB. To program it, you will need an FTDI Breakout (such as SparkFun P/N 9716).

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  • Soldering iron or solder
  • Dremel, or a similar rotary tool with cutting and drilling tools
  • Optional Spray paint


Unfortunately, Arduinos are not good at keeping precise time. The board’s timing crystal allows them to keep time to within a second. However, they must retain this information in their internal memory. If the memory is full, the clock will stop working. The Arduino losing power can cause another problem. You lose your time and must reset it every time you turn it on again. These problems can be solved by an add-on board called the Real-Time Clock module.


The electronics and the case that houses them make up the watch. The two components will be worked on simultaneously.

There are 60 entries, one for each hour. I have only included three of them here for example. The watch displays the hour using the exact same array. 7 AM is the same color code as 7 minutes later. I made 0 all-red, partly out of whimsy but also for debugging purposes. This allows you to see the hour and tells you how the code works if you are working on the project at the beginning of the hour.



Your watch is complete once you have uploaded the code and completed the physical build. Although it may not be precise, it will surely spark a conversation.

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