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Tips & Tricks: Microphone

Translate sound into the electronic language of littleBits

Microphone_2LR

The microphone module is kind of like a translator for your littleBits circuits. It takes vibrations (like sound) and translates them into electrical signals that the modules can read.

Sound Mode and Other Mode:

Below we have a simple example circuit setup: Power → Microphone → Bargraph → Speaker. In this example, we’ve plugged a phone in through the 3.5mm input jack so we can play music through our circuit. The microphone module can operate in two different modes, sound and other. In this video, we’ll show you the difference between the two.

At first the microphone is in other mode. Do you notice how the bargraph moves along with the music, but the Speaker doesn’t sound very good? When we switch the mode to sound, the Speaker sounds great, but the Bargraph stays on and hardly flickers. Speakers work best with a slightly different signal than other littleBits, so sound mode switches the Microphone to use this kind of signal. Other mode is best for communicating with all the other bits.

What’s the difference between the two signals? In sound mode, the microphone transmits a steady voltage of 2.5v when silent and slightly varies the signal up and down to generate sound. This is why the bargraph was always lit up in sound mode. In other mode, the microphone doesn’t transmit any energy when silent and raises the voltage to transmit a signal.

Dancing Servo:

You can control all sorts of modules with the microphone. Below, we attached a servo to our circuit so we could make our little man dance with the music:

 

Combine the Microphone with the Speaker

What happens when you combine a motorcycle helmet with the littleBits Space Kit? A space helmet with communication equipment! Combine the microphone and speaker to amplify your voice. Place the microphone close to your mouth to make cool distorted “Houston…we have a problem” sound.

SpaceHelmet_PRO

 

Microphone with MP3 Player

Plug your MP3 player into the microphone’s input jack to play music (via the speaker) or translate the song’s sound waves into electrical signals for a musical light show (just add LEDs). Check out this Light Up Party Jacket — Lightwires, bright LEDs, long LEDS, and RGD LEDs pulse to the song on your mp3 player through the microphone module.

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Now for something really fun… Learn how to wirelessly transmit music using a digital signalIn this circuit, your digitized music is fed through the microphone and converted into a series of light wave pulses. The pulses are decoded by the light sensor and converted into sound waves by the speaker. You can even make a model ISS and wirelessly transmit music from Earth.

large_filled_IMG_0326

 

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For tips & tricks about using the microphone with the Synth Kit and other instruments, click here.

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