Piano hack adds a visual dimension to music

A Maker and modder by the name of Capricorn1 has added a rockin’ visual dimension to his already impressive musical skills by using a piano’s MIDI output to drive Edison bulbs.


Capricorn1 hung the bulbs from a rod of electrical conduit pipe, while threading the wires to a DB25 connector. The lights were controlled by an Arduino Mega (ATmega1280), along with a custom shield and optocoupler to handle zero cross detection.

“The easiest way to turn a light bulb on and off from a microcontroller is using a solid state relay (SSR),” Capricorn1 noted.

Fortunately, the Maker happened to have a board from a different project laying around with 12 SSRs on it, in addition to the necessary resistors.


All of the electronic components were situated in a repurposed switch box, which controlled four modes: classic, velocity, scrolling, and automatic.

The Maker also used a small sampling of the Arduino MIDI Library, namely the note on/off functions and the control change function to handle his sustain pedal.

Interested in learning more? You can click on over to project’s Instructables page here. Meanwhile, be sure to check out the impressive MIDI piano lighting in action below.

1 thought on “Piano hack adds a visual dimension to music

  1. Pingback: Rewind: 27 Maker musical masterpieces from 2014 | Bits & Pieces from the Embedded Design World

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