For 10+ years I’ve been working periodically on the Light Labyrinth project in collaboration with Kirby Seid and Randall Fontes.
The Light Labyrinth is a comprehensive tool for experimenting with the meditative, psychoactive, and aesthetic properties of patterned light when projected through large quartz crystals. There are strobing programs based on biofeedback/entrainment of brainwave frequencies, as well as contemplative non-strobing patterns that shift slowly over time. Strobe depth, frequency, and duty cycle can be independently varied. The LL includes complex pre-programmed long-form light meditations, single-color meditations based on the chakra system, and a configureable color organ for synesthetic enjoyment.
The Light Labyrinth has evolved into very full-featured platform for experimenting with color and sound.
- dozens of built-in light patterns, both strobing and non-strobing
- independent control of strobe depth, frequency, and duty cycle
- IR remote control including preset save/recall
- MIDI remote control of all features (serial and USB in/out)
- daisy-chain support via MIDI (any Light Labryinth can be "leader" or "follower")
- FFT-based color organ with presets and Mac-based parameter editor
- SD Card support for playback of pre-recorded light sequences
I developed the microcontroller firmware, designed the remote control, created the Music Visualizer and it’s Mac-based editor, assisted with various aspects of the hardware design, and wrote most of the documentation.
The Light Labryinth can be purchased through Ancient Technologies.
This is the 3nd generation remote control. I designed the UI and text/graphics.
First generation PCB
This is the prototype of the first generation of the system to include the Music Visualizer. The main PCB has 3 PIC chips, one for PWM control of the LEDs, one to decode IR commands, and one to generate the light forms. There is a Gumstix SBC running Linux that implements the Music Visualizer in the form of an FFT-based seven channel color organ. Incoming audio (stereo line input, or electret-condenser mic) is analyzed in realtime and mapped to brightness of the seven colors.
Because the Gumstix platform started moving in the direction of increased performance but also increased price, it became a less attractive option. I was hoping they were going to do price reductions at the same performance level, but alas. We decided to implement our own audio board based on the Atmel AVR32. I used Atmel's DSPLib to do the FFT.
Second generation PCB
Eventually the opportunity came for another re-design. This time we just merged the main PCB and MusicViz boards and moved to surface mount PICs.
Third generation PCB
For the next revision, we threw out all of the PIC chips and I did a complete firmware re-write, porting all of the functionality over to the AVR32. We also added USB-MIDI for increased throughput and simplicity for users (no more USB to MIDI boxes).
Because the LightLabyrinth speaks MIDI, it's possible to record performances and re-play them. I had been doing this using a laptop, but it seemed like there ought to be a simpler way to distribute recordings. Finally I decided to add SDCard support to the system. Now you can put MIDI files on the card and play back the light performances using the remote control.