Prototype Circuit

It's good protocol (& wise engineering!) to prototype your circuits, you can use small alligator clips to connect the components together. The pins on the mic sensor are small, so be sure to double check your connections if your having trouble getting the circuit to work. It might be easier to solder wires to the mic and then alligator clip to those. Since drumsets are so loud, the code is set to have a low sensitivity for the mic, so make sure to give a loud sound when testing the NeoPixels audio response. Rubbing the microphone with your finger is a good way to get a reaction.

The NeoPixel strips digital input connects to pin D0 of the Gemma. The negative connection of the NeoPixel strip goes to the ground pin on the Gemma. The positive power wire of the NeoPixel LED strip connects to the VBat pin of the Gemma (not 3.3V!) The out pin on the mic amp goes to pin A1/D2 of the Gemma - this is an anolog input pin. The positive power breakout pin on the mic amp will connect to the 3.3v pin of the Gemma since it is a clear power source than VBat, the voltage goes through the onboard regulator. The negative ground pin of the mic amp can share the same ground connection on the Gemma (together with the NeoPixel strip).

The Code

The color organ code was originally created for the Trinket but also works great with the Gemma. The Gemma is programmed via USB with the Arduino IDE. You can modify and customize the code to fit your setup. For starters, we can easy change the pin outs and number of neopixels. In our setup, each drum used 60 NeoPixels for each drum piece.

If your new to using the Gemma and the Arduino IDE, check out this guide for setting up. Have some extra time on your hands? Learn how to customize the code to change the color!
/* LED "Color Organ" for Adafruit Trinket and NeoPixel LEDs.

Hardware requirements:
 - Adafruit Trinket or Gemma mini microcontroller (ATTiny85).
 - Adafruit Electret Microphone Amplifier (ID: 1063)
 - Several Neopixels, you can mix and match
   o Adafruit Flora RGB Smart Pixels (ID: 1260)
   o Adafruit NeoPixel Digital LED strip (ID: 1138)
   o Adafruit Neopixel Ring (ID: 1463)

Software requirements:
 - Adafruit NeoPixel library

 - 5 V to mic amp +
 - GND to mic amp -
 - Analog pinto microphone output (configurable below)
 - Digital pin to LED data input (configurable below)

Written by Adafruit Industries.  Distributed under the BSD license.
This paragraph must be included in any redistribution.
#include <Adafruit_NeoPixel.h>

#define N_PIXELS  60  // Number of pixels you are using
#define MIC_PIN   A1  // Microphone is attached to Trinket GPIO #2/Gemma D2 (A1)
#define LED_PIN    0  // NeoPixel LED strand is connected to GPIO #0 / D0
#define DC_OFFSET  0  // DC offset in mic signal - if unusure, leave 0
#define NOISE     100  // Noise/hum/interference in mic signal
#define SAMPLES   60  // Length of buffer for dynamic level adjustment
#define TOP       (N_PIXELS +1) // Allow dot to go slightly off scale
// Comment out the next line if you do not want brightness control or have a Gemma
#define POT_PIN    3  // if defined, a potentiometer is on GPIO #3 (A3, Trinket only) 

  peak      = 0,      // Used for falling dot
  dotCount  = 0,      // Frame counter for delaying dot-falling speed
  volCount  = 0;      // Frame counter for storing past volume data
  vol[SAMPLES],       // Collection of prior volume samples
  lvl       = 10,     // Current "dampened" audio level
  minLvlAvg = 0,      // For dynamic adjustment of graph low & high
  maxLvlAvg = 512;

Adafruit_NeoPixel  strip = Adafruit_NeoPixel(N_PIXELS, LED_PIN, NEO_GRB + NEO_KHZ800);

void setup() {
  //memset(vol, 0, sizeof(vol));
  memset(vol,0,sizeof(int)*SAMPLES);//Thanks Neil!
void loop() {
  uint8_t  i;
  uint16_t minLvl, maxLvl;
  int      n, height;
  n   = analogRead(MIC_PIN);                 // Raw reading from mic 
  n   = abs(n - 512 - DC_OFFSET);            // Center on zero
  n   = (n <= NOISE) ? 0 : (n - NOISE);      // Remove noise/hum
  lvl = ((lvl * 7) + n) >> 3;    // "Dampened" reading (else looks twitchy)
  // Calculate bar height based on dynamic min/max levels (fixed point):
  height = TOP * (lvl - minLvlAvg) / (long)(maxLvlAvg - minLvlAvg);

  if(height < 0L)       height = 0;      // Clip output
  else if(height > TOP) height = TOP;
  if(height > peak)     peak   = height; // Keep 'peak' dot at top

// if POT_PIN is defined, we have a potentiometer on GPIO #3 on a Trinket 
//    (Gemma doesn't have this pin)
  uint8_t bright = 255;   
#ifdef POT_PIN            
   bright = analogRead(POT_PIN);  // Read pin (0-255) (adjust potentiometer 
                                  //   to give 0 to Vcc volts
  strip.setBrightness(bright);    // Set LED brightness (if POT_PIN at top
                                  //  define commented out, will be full)
  // Color pixels based on rainbow gradient
  for(i=0; i<N_PIXELS; i++) {  
    if(i >= height)               
       strip.setPixelColor(i,   0,   0, 0);
    }; // Update strip

  vol[volCount] = n;                      // Save sample for dynamic leveling
  if(++volCount >= SAMPLES) volCount = 0; // Advance/rollover sample counter

  // Get volume range of prior frames
  minLvl = maxLvl = vol[0];
  for(i=1; i<SAMPLES; i++) {
    if(vol[i] < minLvl)      minLvl = vol[i];
    else if(vol[i] > maxLvl) maxLvl = vol[i];
  // minLvl and maxLvl indicate the volume range over prior frames, used
  // for vertically scaling the output graph (so it looks interesting
  // regardless of volume level).  If they're too close together though
  // (e.g. at very low volume levels) the graph becomes super coarse
  // and 'jumpy' keep some minimum distance between them (this
  // also lets the graph go to zero when no sound is playing):
  if((maxLvl - minLvl) < TOP) maxLvl = minLvl + TOP;
  minLvlAvg = (minLvlAvg * 63 + minLvl) >> 6; // Dampen min/max levels
  maxLvlAvg = (maxLvlAvg * 63 + maxLvl) >> 6; // (fake rolling average)

// Input a value 0 to 255 to get a color value.
// The colors are a transition r - g - b - back to r.
uint32_t Wheel(byte WheelPos) {
  if(WheelPos < 85) {
   return strip.Color(WheelPos * 3, 255 - WheelPos * 3, 0);
  } else if(WheelPos < 170) {
   WheelPos -= 85;
   return strip.Color(255 - WheelPos * 3, 0, WheelPos * 3);
  } else {
   WheelPos -= 170;
   return strip.Color(0, WheelPos * 3, 255 - WheelPos * 3);

This guide was first published on Dec 04, 2013. It was last updated on Dec 04, 2013.

This page (Circuit Diagram) was last updated on Jul 05, 2022.

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