Disco button makes any room funner

Professor John Gallaugher openly welcomes those who “get down with GitHub”, and that’s behaviour we reward around here, so we’re sharing his two-part YouTube lesson showing you how to create a disco button which instantly transforms any room into a party.

Disco bits

John wanted to make his office hours more appealing to reluctant students, and he thought being able to play a song and light up his desk and ceiling at the smash of a button might do the trick.

How does it work?

Smash the button on the top of the box and a disco tune will blast through the speaker. A NeoPixel LED strip will also light up the edges of your professor’s desk. Look up, and you’ll see a ceiling light show has also been put on for you.

Scroll through the loaded songs with the potentiometer if you’re not happy with what’s currently playing. The OLED screen displays each tune as you land on it, so you know whether to keep scrolling or lean in to the banger on screen.

Part one of the tutorial

The Raspberry Pi Pico W inside the box with the big button sends messages over Wi-Fi to other Pico Ws dotted around the office. Two Picos control the LED light strips, running animations from the Adafruit LED Animation library. Another Pico holds an audio jack and an SD card loaded with disco songs. We’ll call that one the DJ Pico. The final Pico operates a relay switch that turns the light projector for the ceiling on and off.

Part two of the tutorial

What with John being a professional educator by trade, his project videos are really helpful, detailed walk-throughs. It’ll be super easy to code your own office disco using his resources.

Subscribe to a treasure trove of resources

Prof John has uploaded a wealth of resources to his YouTube channel. There’s an entire playlist dedicated to Raspberry Pi Pico projects, as well as this fabulous Buddy the Elf-themed snack dispenser. You’ll probably want to have a poke around his GitHub too: here’s the repo for the disco button.

John works in the Information Systems Department at Boston College and uploads new tutorials every week, so we definitely recommend subscribing to his YouTube channel for a steady stream of maker inspiration.

Best disco tune?

It is Young Hearts Run Free by Candi Staton and I will not be taking further questions about this. You can, however, duke it out in the comments if you have alternative facts.


Prof. Gallaugher avatar

You guys are the best! And if any educators are looking for slides, challenges, and solutions for class work, there is an open Google Drive for my course at https://gallaugher.com. Dig in!

Ashley Whittaker avatar

Excellent! Thanks Prof.

Ashley Whittaker avatar

Someone on Threads commented that “Disco Star Wars by Meco” has got to be the best disco tune. I had to Google it and I was not disappointed. There’s an entire ALBUM.

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