Incandescent bulbs and MAX/MSP


i'm working on a project where i need to control up to 12 incandescent lightbulbs individual brightness via max/msp

does anyone have any experience with this?

i've not worked with Arduino before but think it could be the way to go

at the moment my thinking is i will build a power distributing dimmer unit with 12 dimmable switches that are controlled via an Arduino, each switch is linked directly to a separate bulb and so i can control the brightness of each one easily via 12 individual control signals from max?

like i say i am a total novice at electronics so any help / potential problems would be massively appreciated



Are these mains incandescent bulbs? If they are then it is tricky as:-

am a total novice at electronics

And you should not be playing with mains if that is so, you could kill yourself or start a fire.

I don't know anything about MAX/MSP...

I suggest you look into [u]DMX[/u]. DMX is used for stage lighting and "disco" lighting.

With DMX, you have one controller that controls one or more "remote" dimmers or lights. (It's normally wired-remote, but there is a wireless version.)

You can build a DMX controller using the Arduino, or you can buy a DMX controller that looks like an audio mixing console, or you can buy a DMX controller that runs off a computer.

You can buy sound-activated DMX controllers, and I've hard of people combining MIDI and DMX, or even "translating" MIDI commands to DMX, but I think that's tricky because of the differences in the protocols.

You can buy DMX dimmers or stage lights with DMX built-in (and you won't have to "touch" any dangerous voltages). You can buy LED lights that change color under DMX control.

Or, you could look-into [u]home automation[/u]. You can buy stand-alone programmable controllers, controllers that work from a computer, or manual remote transmitters/controllers. Or, you can build your own Arduino-based X-10 controller. (Home automation protocols are NOT great for "flashing" lights to the music.... They are typically used for turning the lights on at sunset and off at sunrise, etc.)

The hell is MAX/MSP?!

Assuming the bulbs run at a low DC voltage, just drive them with MOSFETs (since you need to dim them, you need to be able to do PWM, so either a transistor or MOSFET, depending on your preference). Also, you don't get enough PWM channels with an ATMega328 based arduino, though the Mega (based on Atmega 2560) has plenty.

If you're talking about driving line (aka mains) voltage bulbs, of course, that's a bigger deal, since you'll need to make the dimmer devices (though you might be able to find incandescent dimmer modules on ebay) - dimming an AC device is a bit more complicated, plus you need to take more care not to let any high voltages sneak back into the Arduino.

The hell is MAX/MSP?!

MAX/MSP is an icon based language for manipulating notes and for performing sound synthesis and sound manipulation. It is the most well known software of its type in the music world. It has a video processing side kick called Jitter.

Basically it can communicate with the outside world by using serial data, MIDI, or OSC ( Open Sound Control ) protocols.

The main problem I have with it is that it costs quite a lot. There is a public domain ( free ) version of the language known as PD ( Pure Data ) it is fundamentally the same but not so pretty.