Arduino: a Light Theremin

[Light Theremin using an Arduino, photocell and piezo buzzer] This project uses a photocell and a piezo buzzer to make weird spacey sounds.

Use about a 1 kΩ resistor when you hook up the photocell. Feel free to experiment with other resistor values to see what happens.

It helps to put a toilet paper tube (or similar) over the photocell, to protect it from light.

Then move your hand up and down over the top of the toilet paper tube and see how the sound changes!

Here's the Arduino code. Of course, you can adjust the values, especially MIN_FREQ and MAX_FREQ. (The current version of this lives at theremin.ino at my GitHub site. It includes more comments and serial debugging.

// What digital pin is the speaker on? 
// (The other speaker wire should connect to Gnd.)
int SPEAKER = 8;

// which analog pin is the light sensor on?

// Typical photocell values for daytime 
// with window and 1k resistor:
// min 15, max 100.
#define MIN_SIGNAL   15  /* 100 */
#define MAX_SIGNAL  100  /* 1024 */

// What frequencies should we allow (in Hertz)?
// Typical human hearing is 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz,
// but our piezo buzzers can't reproduce such a wide range.
// 100 to 10k or so is usually okay.
#define MIN_FREQ    100
#define MAX_FREQ   8000

// How many samples should we read from the sensor each time?
// The sensor is noisy, so there will be a lot of spurious readings.
#define NUM_SAMPLES  15

// To monitor the output from the sensor (so you can calibrate MAX_SIGNAL
// and MIN_SIGNAL), uncomment SERIAL_DEBUG:
//#define SERIAL_DEBUG 1

void setup()
    pinMode(SPEAKER, OUTPUT);


void loop()
    // Set the frequency according to the light value read off analog pin 0.

    // Average 5 reads
    int lightsensor = 0;
    for (int i=1; i < NUM_SAMPLES; ++i)
        lightsensor += analogRead(LIGHTSENSOR);
    lightsensor /= NUM_SAMPLES;

    unsigned int freq = map(lightsensor,
                            MIN_SIGNAL, MAX_SIGNAL,
                            MIN_FREQ, MAX_FREQ);

    tone(SPEAKER, freq);

    Serial.print("Read ");
    Serial.print(" -> ");