Electronics All-in-One For Dummies
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To put a color organ circuit to use making interesting sound and lighting effects, you'll have to connect both lights and a sound system to the color organ.

The procedure for actually using the color organ is quite simple:

  1. Connect a light to the color organ's female extension cord connector.
  2. Connect a speaker-level audio input to the RCA connector.
  3. Plug the male extension cord connector into a power outlet.
  4. Turn on the color organ.
  5. Play the sound.
  6. Turn the knob on the color organ to adjust the sensitivity.
  7. If the light never comes on, try increasing the output volume on the stereo.
The color organ can handle just 120 W on the output circuit, so you need to be careful not to overload the circuit. You can use a single 100 W flood light or a couple of 60 W lamps. Or you can use a few strings of Christmas lights or other low-wattage lights.

The easiest way to connect the color organ to the sound system is to simply replace one of the speakers with the color organ. The type of cable you'll need to do that depends on how the speakers connect to the sound system. If the speakers connect with simple post connectors, you'll need a cable with bare wire on one end and an RCA plug on the other end. If the speakers connect with RCA connectors, you'll need a cable with RCA plugs on both ends.

When you use the color organ in this way, it's important to realize that the color organ will respond to one channel of the stereo recording while the speaker plays the other channel. In most cases, you won't notice much difference. However, in some recordings, the sound on the left channel is very different from the sound on the right channel. This can affect the quality of the sound, and it can also prevent the light from flashing in perfect sync with the sound, since the light is responding to a different sound source from the one heard through the speakers.

In some cases, you can use this to improve the effect you're trying to achieve with the color organ. For example, in an actual thunderstorm, the lightning flashes well before the thunder is heard. To reproduce this effect, all you need is a sound recording of a thunderstorm in which the thunder is heard on the left channel before it's heard on the right channel. Then, if you connect the color organ to the left channel and the speaker to the right channel, the light will flash before the sound is heard.

Have fun with your color organ!

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Doug Lowe is the bestselling author of more than 40 For Dummies books. He's covered everything from Microsoft Office to creating web pages to technologies such as Java and ASP.NET, and has written several editions of both PowerPoint For Dummies and Networking For Dummies.

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