There’s no better way to learn programming than immediately applying what you learn to see exactly how it works, especially while building something as awesome as a real-time music-visualizer.
This 2-week course is perfect for beginning programmers and those with experience who want to build an LED project. We’ll start from a completely blank slate, and as more complex programming is added, you will learn exactly how it works as your LEDs light up in new and exciting ways!
Your instructor, Dan, is also passionate about using this project as an example for how to approach any engineering project with a lofty final vision. Rapid prototyping is not often taught at school, but it’s an essential skill to harness the power of the technology we have access to today.
And since “music-visualizers” are not very common, here is a video showing 1 of the many animations we’ll create. The final product will have many animations, some that trigger to beats, and some that visualize different frequencies, and they’ll fade between each other as the beat within music comes in and out. We’ll also build a simple wireless control panel with basic HTML and CSS that you can access through WiFi.
Continue reading below for more information on the course, the schedule, the instructor, and the curriculum. Questions? Please feel free to email Dan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Class 1: First, we’ll make sure our computers are ready for programming the hardware, and we’ll create the vision for the music-visualizer we are about to build. Then, we’ll start from scratch, making LED #1 red, green, and blue. Throughout the class, that light will move, fade away, and do more simple things.
Class 2: Introduction to mapping! We’ll create an X-Y coordinate system, and write colors to whole rows and columns of LEDs.
Class 3: We’ll create 2D animations that we’ll apply audio data to later on in the course. We’ll also implement color palettes so your LEDs can be red/white/blue, green/purple, or any combo you want!
Class 4: We’ll continue coding more 2D animations with new techniques, and learn how to make the 2 buttons on the electronics change patterns and color palettes.
Class 5: We’ll cover everything audio, like how to set the input to Mic or Aux, what the audio data looks like and how it’s analyzed, and how beats are detected and timed. Then we’ll apply it to an animation! This is where things really start coming together.
Class 6: More practice applying music data to different patterns, making some visualize the whole spectrum and some trigger certain patterns when a beat occurs.
Class 7: Time to use HTML/CSS to build a simple webpage control panel, hosted over WiFi, that can control the LEDs.
Class 8: We’ll create a number input on the webpage, and make that control the brightness of the LEDs. Time permitting, we’ll build more inputs for other things.
Class 9: We’ll put it all together! You’ll finish the course with a fully fledged music-visualizer, and the skills required to go buy more LEDs and build any sort of visualizer you can dream up!
Midday Weekday-Only Session (Great for students) – OPEN
Night Session – OPEN
Further schedules are TBD. If you’re interested in taking this course but there are scheduling difficulties/conflicts, or you’d like a later date, please let me know either in the “other” section on the registration form or feel free to email Dan at email@example.com.
“You helped me learn so much in a short amount of time, and I’m super excited to start building my own setups. I was very excited, and a bit nervous about what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised by the quality and depth of everything we covered… from basic hardware to coding visualizations and even the html/Wifi. I highly recommend this course.”
– Past Student Jeremy B.
Dan grew up in Rockville, MD and got an Aerospace Engineering degree from the University of Maryland, College Park. He didn’t play any instruments growing up, but he kept a Sandisk MP3 player full of songs and loved listening to music.
During college, he worked on a research project where he got his first real experience programming an Arduino microcontroller. Lots of inputs controlled lots of outputs, and some code ran in between. Living in a house off campus with friends, he wanted to spruce up his parties with music-reactive lighting, and that’s how it all started.
After college, Dan worked at NASA Goddard in Satellite Operations. For 1.5 years he worked 12 hour shifts, both day and night, operating the Earth observing satellites Aqua and Aura. For another 1.5 years, he worked a normal 9-5 schedule as Aqua’s Instrument Engineer. Feel free to ask him about his time at NASA!
While working at NASA, Dan continued working on music-reactive LEDs in his free time. Over the years, the hardware and software continued to improve to a point where he was far ahead of anything else online, so he gave the whole entrepreneurship thing a chance. After a year of building LED pieces and installations, he decided to open-source the software and teach other people how to build LED music-visualizers. Him and his friends have lots of fun watching music, and he’s excited for other people to see their music as well!