TripleJ and MooresCloud Holiday

TripleJ Hottest HolidayI hooked up my MooresCloud Holiday to the stereo today so that I could sync up the light display with TripleJ’s Hottest 100 countdown.

The Hottest 100 is a bit of a tradition for me; I’ve listened to it every year since 1993, and I have a few other personal traditions linked to it. It’s a core part of Australia Day for me.

To make the lights flash, I’ve used some code I wrote called holibeats.py (follow the link to the code on github) that samples the audio on my computer, does some basic frequency spectrum analysis using a Fast Fourier Transform, and outputs pretty colours. I’ve added a green-and-gold colour scheme for the occasion. The trouble is, it needs to listen to the audio somehow.

I can’t run code on my stereo (yet…), so I needed a computer. I tried getting my desktop to listen to the audio from TripleJ’s digital radio stream, but it’s not in sync with the radio broadcast, so the lights would flash out of time.

Then I pulled out the laptop, and tuned into the internet radio station, which let me drive the lights, and then I sent the audio signal to the stereo over HDMI. It worked! Well, mostly.

The stereo has a “Zone 2” mode that can drive some speakers I have outside and control the volume separately. But, in Zone 2 mode, I can’t have those speakers play from the same source as inside. (Except for the inbuilt radio. I have no idea why it’s limited like this. I should whinge at Pioneer and find out.) I have to swap to a different mode that drives both sets of speakers off the same amplifier, but then the volume inside is too loud if the outside volume is up high enough. Grr.

So I hacked something together: I plugged my Zoom H6 audio recorder into the laptop over USB, and put it into external stereo mic mode, using the XY mic module. Then the laptop can listen to whatever the stereo is playing, and drive the lights. It’s a kludge, but it works!

It has a fun side-effect where if I turn off the radio and sing in the loungeroom, I get direct feedback with the lights. It’s an interesting feeling to have the lights respond directly to your voice like that. I wouldn’t have discovered that effect without trying to hack this method together.

I wonder what it would take to wire a simple condenser mic into the Holiday board, and run the code on the Holiday itself? Kinda like those dancing flowerpots from years ago. A project for another day, perhaps.

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