(5) Performances with Drum Machine and BPM Clocking

A project log for Real-Time Audio-Controlled Neon

Building a system that encodes and reads music in MIDI format and controls the flashing of a Neon Sign with minimal latency

davidgargesdavid.garges 10/08/2018 at 01:210 Comments

With a custom Neon sign constructed, I was able to enhance the experience of a drum machine performance. Below I have included a video of myself programming a drum machine in which MIDI output is read by an Arduino Leonardo with Olimex MIDI shield to control Neon transformers:

Another application I wanted to pursue was the ability to program the neon sign to stay in sync with an .mp3 audio file that was playing over a speaker. I utilized Virtual DJ Pro's beat analysis software to identify the tempo of a song. With Roland's UM-one USB to MIDI cable, I could output a clocking signal (in reality this is a "step" signal, the distinction is important but not necessary for understanding the flow of information) via MIDI to the input of the drum machine. Listening to the beat of the song, I could silently program in what drum sounds would activate where and the Neon tubes would light up accordingly. The video below illustrates this concepts with one of my favorite songs Blue Monday. 

Below is a block diagram of the informational flow of the entire system. The speaker's output can be either connected to the audio of the drum machine OR the audio of the mp3 playing in Virtual DJ pro.