The Art Of MIDI-Controlled Nipple Lights

Author David Battino (Keyboard, Electronic Musician) shared a new video in his series for EM, Adventures in DIY.

In his last video, Battino demonstrated how to add MIDI-controlled eyes to Japanese monster toys. In his second video, he goes a step further, adding MIDI-controlled nipple lights to a Satan Beetle monster toy.  The project was inspired by the original Ultraman episode, “The Rhinoceros Beetle Is an Alien Invader!”.

The video accompanies Battino’s column in the July issue of Electronic Musician, Light up Your Sound with a $1 Sequencer.

“In this video, I give a Japanese beetle monster a bellyful of LEDs, then light them up from a MIDI keyboard,” explains Battino. “The secret is a $1 hobby chip called the 4017, which takes an incoming pulse and distributes it sequentially to ten outputs.”

For those readers that may not have a proclivity for MIDI-controlled nipple lights, the project can be adapted to add synced, sequenced LED lighting affects to anything that you like. And, as Battino demonstrates in the video, you can modify the circuit to control the sequence length.

Parts List:

  • Vinyl monster toy or whatever you want to light up
  • 3–5V LEDs
  • LED holders
  • 1k? resistor
  • 4017 decade counter/divider chip
  • 1/8” (3.5mm) TS miniphone jack, if using CV
  • 5-pin MIDI jack or half a MIDI cable, if using MIDI

If you’ve created your own DIY projects involving LED blinkenlights and MIDI, share it in the comments.


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