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Building A VU Meter (A Really BIG One)


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  • Building A VU Meter (A Really BIG One)

    For quite sometime, I've wanted to find a place to expose some of
    the things I've built over the years. Recently, I've been able to sort
    through a "ton" of photos, and get them somewhat organized on-line.

    The URL below may be subject matter this forum will find of interest.

    Titled, "Building A VU Meter", it may even be the worlds largest.


    If you're an Audio Aficionado, you may need to pop some popcorn
    before you begin checking it out.

    Have Fun.


  • #2
    Some people like to say "VU" stands for "Virtually Useless" in favor of Peak Program response (faster response so transients are more clearly represented, not just "avg program level")


    • thedudebro
      thedudebro commented
      Editing a comment
      Still awesome, even if all it does is swing around randomly when there's noise.

  • #3
    That is Astounding! But, I gotta ask; what was this thing for?


    • #4

      Does one "hear" in analog, or do we hear in digital?

      Do we see in "pixels", or do we see at a certain frequency?

      fatusstratus, I "hear 'Ya.
      VU does stand for Virtually Useless.

      Thank You!
      As far as "what was this thing for?"

      It was a challenge of one's personal skill and knowledge. Nothing more.
      It's Art! And it actually works too.
      (Nothing more.)

      Happy Thanksgiving,



      • #5
        Since responce Velocity of a mechanical meter is affected by inertia, the meter would be completely useless. It would miss most of the peaks because the needle and armature are way too heavy to respond quickly to transient peaks. You could use it as a Multimeter or something that doesnt need to ride peaks, but you should really see an optimologist if you need something that big to be seen. If you needed big, then a digital VU with large LED banks would blow away a mechanical meter for accuracy.


        • #6
          Since responce Velocity of a mechanical meter is affected by inertia, the meter would be completely useless.

          Not accurate if you wanted to use it in a studio for serious recording... but that doesn't appear to be the purpose of the project. It is a display unit. Art.

          @John: Excellent job! Well documented and quite interesting. Thanks for posting the pictures.

          regards, Jack
          AMZ Free Effects Projects
          Guitar Effects Blog


          • #7
            Amazing! Beautiful work, John.
            "The Web puts all of the world's knowledge at our fingertips; unfortunately it's mixed with all of the world's bull****************."
            -- Bob Parks

            "A thing is not necessarily true because a man dies for it."
            -- Oscar Wilde

            "No man dies for what he knows to be true. Men die for what they want to be true, for what some terror in their hearts tells them is not true."
            -- Oscar Wilde

            "It is a trap of history to believe that eyewitnesses remember accurately what they have lived through."
            -- Theodore White


            • #8
              I only looked at a few pics. If its only artwork, then I stand corrected. My point was a large needle wouldnt respond quickly due to the weight.


              • #9

                I tend to forget the linear thinking at times with the "electronic minded".

                Presenting a process, or steps in building a model of a Panel Mount VU Meter to say,
                a woodworking group, or a pack of machinists would have seemed even more dangerous.
                They would have told me all about the discrepancies in the poor exterior finish,
                or highlighted the lathe chuck marks still visible on the hardware fasteners.

                So, I exposed it to this crowd instead. And wonders never seize. LOL

                "It's too Big!" They exclaim.

                I still have yet to read from the wisdom of the crowd on some other forums
                where the "spec" is... regarding the chosen color of a VU Meter face by early generation
                manufacturers. I gave up looking. I couldn't find it.

                In the meantime, Thank You for all the kinds words.
                At some point I will have a video posted showing the meter's actual performance
                for the armchair enthusiast, and of course for the driven EGO of its builder.

                Thank you all again,



                • #10
                  I think it's very cool. Nice work all the way around as far as I can see. My only disappointment is that there is only one - there should be two for stereo.

                  As for the naysayers, well it seemed obvious to me it was intended as a display/artistic piece and not as a practical piece of working gear. I think there may be a limited market for more of these to museums and maybe in corporations. Imagine having a pair of those in the front office of a radio station or recording studio, or for a flashy trade-show display.

                  How about a giant ribbon mike next?
                  This space left intentionally blank.


                  • #11

                    Does one "hear" in analog, or do we hear in digital?

                    Do we see in "pixels", or do we see at a certain frequency?

                    ooh, good question - I don't know. I suppose neuroscientists might need to answer that one and I don't even know if they are fully sure.

                    I mean our eyes use individual rods and cones, so I guess the raw data acquisition is in pixels though that doesn't address the level detection...I dont know if thats more discrete or continuous

                    but I've also heard there is all kinds of crosstalk which is why some optical illusions work the way they do
                    It's weird though when you think about it - digital is really a special case of analog


                    • #12
                      but in terms of building and just doing something cool - it looks like you did something very cool
                      and it looks to be quite the clean build!


                      • #13
                        I am attaching a very old article about VU meters. Enjoy!

                        This file is a pdf, so when you download it, you will have to rename it to remove the .mp3 file extension. I did this to get around the file size limit for attachments.

                        regards, Jack

                        AMZ Free Effects Projects
                        Guitar Effects Blog


                        • #14
                          Man on the Moon?

                          Jack, finding this "Electronics" reprint? Pretty Darn Close!

                          Two very enlightening facts are revealed in your PDF file.

                          1) The meter face is not a "meter face". It's a Scale Card.

                          2) The color of the scale card is Cream Yellow.

                          It may seem frivolous to most reading this thread, but you've help
                          answer a question that's been unanswerable for me until now.

                          I'll make the adjustments in my photo page to reflect this new information.

                          Excellent job! Thank you.

                          I scrolled back on this thread and noticed I never posted the YouTube URL
                          showing a very primitive "raw video" of the device actually working.

                          Here it is for anyone interested: http://www.youtube.com/user/electricalapparatus

                          Thanks again Jack.

                          And here's to the Holiday season for everyone.



                          • #15
                            Nice work mate.