Optron Mk2
Optron Mk2
A multi-sensory electronic music controller/visualizer

Origin Story

Inspired by Japanese noise artist Atsuhiro Ito, who in 1998 created the first Optron comprised of an amplified commercial florescent light controlled directly by manipulating voltage out of the wall into the lamp by hand and amplified sound. Chet Udell transformed this concept into a safer and massively flexible multi-sensory electronic instrument.

Optron 1

Optron 1 was first made in 2016 from a modified LED shop light from a local hardware store. Original LEDs were removed and 144 RGB LEDs were added. An Infrared sensor enabled tracking of air-guitar strumming gestures for the right hand. Pressure and position sensors were mounted to the top where the guitar neck is supposed to be for the left hand. A motion processor was used to translate tilt, acceleration, rotation into control data. A web cam running computer vision translated color and position of lights into musical control information as well.

LED Shop Light

The body of Optron is an electronically modified shop light fitted with a USB port, power port, wireless sensors, microprocessor, and supporting electronics


Arduino Micro

The Optron brain

Receives serial data commands from computer

Communicates with RGB LED string


Adafruit DotStar

144 individually addressable RGB LEDs replace the original shop light


eMotion Sensors

Translate 15 different performance sensations and wirelessly transmit control data to computer

eMote B Shadow.png



  • Commercial LED shop light

  • Arduino Micro, serial communication input from computer

  • Adafruit DotStar 144 RGB LED array

  • eMotion Wireless Sensors

    • 9DOF 3axis each Accel, Gyro, Magnetometer

    • Long force-sensitive resistor

    • Long linear potentiometer

    • Sharp IR distance sensor

Software Overview

  • MaxMSP

    • Computer vision translates color and position of lights to controller data

    • Sends serial commands to Optron

  • eMotion Soft

    • Converts Optron sensor data into OSC messages to be used in MaxMSP

  • Arduino IDE firmware

    • Onboard subroutines convert serial commands from computer into control signals for RGB LED array