Your very own Optron. Optron

Inventor Chet Udell describes how to build, program, and perform his version of the Optron. All material is completely open source - CreativeCommons 3.0 Share Alike-Attribution. Modify, improve, evolve . . . share.


You should know Arduino or other microprocessor basics. Soldering and electronic prototyping is also not covered here. Difficulty level to follow along below, medium.


  1. LED Shop Light. Try your local hardware store or Amazon. I used a Lowe's 4ft LED Shoplight here. But feel free to go 2ft, 3ft, 1ft, or even 6ft! $29.95
  2. Adafruit DotStars. You'll replace the while LEDs with these babies. This is the 1meter, 144LED version, but if you want to save money you can go with fewer LEDs per meter. The more, the better. $74.95
  3. Arduino Micro, 2 of em. These are way smaller than the Uno, fitting easily inside of the light, and also has more program memory - so if you're demo-ing my code on an Uno, know that it probably won't compile due to less program space. $25 each
  4. MPU6050 - This has 3 accelerometers and 3 gyroscopes providing you with all the gesture information as you swing this thing around like a lightsaber! Get it for way less using Google shopping tab from ebay and other stores. Just be sure it's the right thing! About $3 to $5.
  5. SoftPot Membrane Potentiometer - 500mm. This tracks your finger position along the "neck" of the Optron. $17.95

  6. Force Sensitive Resistor Long. This tracks your finger pressure along the "neck."

  7. Sparkfun ZX Gesture Sensor. This tracks your strumming hand. Detects both distance of hand away from Optron and horizontal sweep (to gauge speed of strum). $24.95

  8. USB Repeater Cable. For extending the connection of your USB hub. Hubs cannot typically be connected to a >6ft extension unless it is an active "repeater" cable. See here for more info. $14

  9. USB Hub. This will go inside and split your USB connection 2-ways to ensure both Arduino's communicate on their own dedicated ports.

  10. Switchcraft USB female B to Female A Panel Mount. You'll put this into the side of the Optron to plug the USB repeater cable (via a standard USB A to B cable) into. $6

  11. USB A to B cable. Pretty standard. You probably have a ton of them lying around the house.

  12. Misc Components: 10K resistor, 30K resistor, connector wire, solder, soldering iron, headers, Hot Glue gun and glue sticks, typical electronics prototyping tools, safety glasses.


Step by step instructions on how to assemble your Optron. Coming soon!


Link to GitHub Coming Soon. Software for Arduinos and a serial program (in MaxMSP) to read data from the Optron into OSC and MIDI for your music or other programs!


This is an open-source project. Code and designs are not 100% guaranteed to work out for you and are presented as-is. As with all DIY projects that deal with soldering irons and electricity, practice safety, prototype responsibly.