Tag Archives: Music

A closer look at a light-sensitive MIDI controller

Ah, the 90’s. Along with many others, I remember it fondly as the golden age of personal computing. I mean, who can forget the days of AdLib/Sound Blaster cards, Doom, BBS door games like Solar Realms Elite and MIDI files?

The truth is, each of the above-mentioned subjects probably deserves its very own nostalgic blog post, but today we’re going to focus on MIDI.

For the uninitiated, MIDI is an acronym for Musical Instrument Digital Interface, a technical standard or protocol that allows a wide variety of electronic musical instruments, computers and other related devices to connect and communicate with one another.

Although MIDI technology has been around since the 80’s in one form or another, it achieved widespread mainstream popularity in the 90’s alongside the rise of the PC. While MIDI may be somewhat old school for some, many hobbyists and modders proudly continue its legacy.

Case in point? A light-sensitive, Arduino-powered MIDI controller which popped up on YouTube just a few days ago, courtesy of Jacob Clarke.

“I’ve finally started messing around with Arduino properly. Found an old light sensor in my electronics stuff and decided to try my hand at rewiring a MIDI to USB cable I had lying around,” wrote Clarke.

“A few hours later I had a light sensitive MIDI controller working! This can be powered completely independent to a computer if need be (and into any synth). For the sake of making it ‘nice sounding’ I added a bit of code to round the notes into a pentatonic scale.”

Clarke says he has bigger plans in mind and will likely disassemble his creation, but it does serve as a good starting point and certainly makes for a fun video! If you are interested in trying this yourself,  the Arduino sketch has been posted to PasteBin and is  available here.