Have You Heard a Light Sabre Sing Before? Let’s Make a Visible Light Communication Energy Stick That Is Colorful and Plays Music!

Sound and light are both energy, that come in different forms. What’s amazing is, we can use some simple tools to interchange sound and light energy, to let us see the sound and hear the color. In this simple circuit, we can turn electrical energy into light energy with LED, turn light energy into electrical energy with solar panel, and then turn electrical energy into sound vibration energy with piezo buzzer. This series of smart energy conversions is a very fun set of science toys we’re going to play with.

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Bill of materials:

 

  • A solderless Breadboards
  • A battery holder
  • Two AA batteries
  • An LED
  • A music IC (TO92-XC64GU)
  • A solar panel (taken off a calculator)
  • A piezo buzzer (taken off a toy)
  • Two crocodile clips

Assemle steps and instruction:

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Assemble the electrical to light energy conversion.

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Insert the LED and music IC into the breadboard, connect it to the battery holder. The LED should light up as the music IC goes off.

We can’t tell which piece of music it is yet.

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Assemble the light to electrical energy conversion and then the sound energy receiver. First, connect the piezo buzzer and the crocodile clips.

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Connect the solar panel and the piezo buzzer.

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Put the piezo buzzer in your ear like it’s an earphone, and start enjoying the fabulous music produced by the LED through light energy.

With this kind of device, Visible Light Communication can be developed. Using the signals for lighting we are able to use LI-FI indoors, which is an advanced version of WIFI; and put proximity sensors or collision detectors on traffic lights or tail lights to improve road traffic safety.

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I was in the National Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium some time ago watching the Open Ocean Tank Fish Feeding Show, where the entire tank of fish all gathered around the keeper for food. It was fun and spectacular. The keeper made a lot of gestures while feeding the fish, like he was trying to say something. If only there was a device that could help the keeper introduce the fish to the audience while feeding the fish, wouldn’t that be great?

What if we design a helmet that makes the keeper able to talk in water, and also makes the sound signals ride on visible light and go through the water. The audience could then use a solar panel to convert the light into electricity, and then use piezo earphones to convert it into light energy, to hear what the keeper is saying!

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Recently, British scientists have been researching a technology called LI-FI (Light-Fidelity), which is close to the WI-FI we’re familiar with. In our daily lives, electromagnetic radiation is everywhere, such as the wireless waves in wireless communications, the microwaves in microwave ovens and the infrared in remote controls. We can of course use visible light as a waveband to send messages for us, and gain the following benefits:

  1. Lighting and communication: Visible light can carry out the dual mission of lighting and communication, to save energy and reduce carbon footprint.
  2. Wider applicability: If every street light can send signals reporting road traffic safety, every traffic light can send information on its countdown timer, every car’s tail lights can send warning to prevent collision, road traffic would be even safer.
  3. When shopping malls, museums and exhibit halls need to provide audio tour service, it can also be applied on the exhibit lighting to add different audio and images to each specific exhibit item, and even replace the QR code for a truly personalized tour service.
  4. When combined with Google navigation, this indoor lighting technology can easily help us navigate the inside of a building with high accuracy, so we’ll never be lost inside a building!

We look forward to living a life that is made even easier with the technology of visible light communication.

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