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How To Make A Sound Level Meter Using SPARKvue

How To Make A Sound Level Meter Using SPARKvue

Did you know you can make your own sound level meter in the free app, SPARKvue from PASCO Scientific?

In this short video, Dr. Nichola Swann will show you how to along with a little bit of sense and control programming and make it do a coded output. Make sure to watch until the end for extra tips!

SPARKvue software allows you to graph and analyse your data manually, connect to sensors and choose measurements and displays, use the wireless feature for remote data logging, and custom-create experiments.

You will need:

  • Device: You will need a device to run the SPARKvue app. The app is available for iPad, Android tablets, Chromebook, PC, or laptop.
  • SPARKvue App: Download and install the SPARKvue app on your device. You can find it on the app store for iPad or Android tablets. For PC or laptop, you can get it from the PASCO website.
  • Microphone:Ensure that your device has an onboard microphone. The experiment in the video relies on measuring sound levels using the device’s microphone.
  • Optional PASCO Sensors: While the demonstration primarily uses the device’s onboard sensors, PASCO sensors can be used as well. If you have PASCO sensors, you can connect them to your device for additional functionalities.
  • Toy or Noise Source (Optional): In the video, Nic uses a toy to generate noise. This is optional and depends on your preference for creating sound during the experiment.

Ensure that your device meets the app’s system requirements and has the necessary permissions to access the microphone for sound level measurements.


  1. Download and Install SPARKvue: Download and install the SPARKvue app from the app store on your iPad, Android tablet, or Chromebook. For PC or laptop, visit the PASCO website to download the app.
  2. Open SPARKvue: Open the SPARKvue app on your device.
  3. Access Sensor Data: Click on the “Sensor Data” option to look for the onboard sensors in your device. Toggle on the microphone.
  4. Select Sound Level and Graph: Choose “Sound Level” from the available options and click on “Graph.” This will display a graph of sound level over time.
  5. Start Recording: Start recording to measure the ambient sound level in the room. Observe the changes in the graph as you make noise or stay quiet.
  6. Adjust Threshold: Determine a threshold level for sound. In the video, the presenter sets a threshold of 46 decibels. Adjust this value based on your preferences and the noise levels in your environment.
  7. Coding Section: Go to the coding tab and use the IF-ELSE block to create a program. If the sound level exceeds the set threshold, display a warning like “Too loud.” Otherwise, display a message like “Nice and quiet.”
  8. Looping the Program: Place the entire code inside a loop (repeat while true) to continuously monitor and display the sound level and warning.
  9. Experiment Page: Create a new display page with two displays: one for showing the actual sound level and the other for displaying the warning message.
  10. Run the Experiment: Press the “Start” button to run the code and start monitoring the sound levels. Observe how the warning message changes based on the sound level.
  11. Optional: Toy or Noise Source: If using a toy or noise source, make noise to see how the sound level meter reacts. Adjust the threshold if necessary.
  12. Analysis: Analyse the data displayed on the graph and the warning messages to understand the sound levels in different situations.
  13. Conclusion: Conclude the experiment by discussing the results, the effectiveness of the sound level meter, and its potential applications.

Video transcript below:

00:00:09:05 – 00:00:10:19
Hi, I’m Nichola from LaBLiFe

00:00:10:19 – 00:00:14:08
And in this video I’m going to show you
how to make your own sound level meter

00:00:14:14 – 00:00:15:24
in the free app SPARKvue

00:00:15:24 – 00:00:19:13
and we’re also going to do a little bit
of sense and control programing

00:00:20:04 – 00:00:21:20
and make it do like a coded output.

00:00:21:20 – 00:00:23:08
To tell you whether your sound sample’s

00:00:23:08 – 00:00:26:03
being too noisy
or whether it’s being nice and quiet.

00:00:27:15 – 00:00:30:03
Okay, so this is an activity
that everyone can try at home.

00:00:30:09 – 00:00:33:12
If you’ve got a device
that’s either an iPad or an Android tablet

00:00:33:12 – 00:00:36:06
or a Chromebook, you can just head
straight to your app store

00:00:36:15 – 00:00:40:10
type in SPARKvue,
which is spelled S, P, A, R, K, V, U, E

00:00:40:10 – 00:00:42:19
you will be able to download
it completely for free

00:00:43:02 – 00:00:47:08
if you’re using a PC or a laptop,
you can get it for a free 60 day

00:00:47:08 – 00:00:50:10
trial from the PASCO website
if you head to

00:00:50:10 – 00:00:54:24
and then you’ll be able to download it
from the downloads page.

00:00:54:24 – 00:00:55:14

00:00:55:14 – 00:01:00:22
So when you open up the software,
it is going to look like this.

00:01:02:15 – 00:01:05:16
So no matter what platform
you’re on, whether on a tablet

00:01:05:16 – 00:01:08:13
or whether you’re on your PC,
it’s always going to look the same.

00:01:09:00 – 00:01:11:13
So what we want to do
first off is click on sensor data

00:01:12:02 – 00:01:14:23
and this is going to look
for the onboard sensors in your device

00:01:14:23 – 00:01:17:06
if you haven’t got any of the PASCO
sensors connected to it.

00:01:17:16 – 00:01:19:11
So you can see it, can see the microphone.

00:01:19:11 – 00:01:21:24
So we want to toggle this on

00:01:21:24 – 00:01:24:24
press the toggle button.
when you want to make a sound level.

00:01:25:02 – 00:01:28:19
So this is measured in decibel
sound intensities in SI Units.

00:01:28:19 – 00:01:34:11
So it’s not as intrinsically obvious
that, you know, it’s a sound measurement.

00:01:34:18 – 00:01:37:17
So we’re going to go for sound level
and we want to click on graph.

00:01:39:06 – 00:01:41:01
So this
is going to pull up a graph of sound level

00:01:41:01 – 00:01:44:11
on the Y axis measured in decibels
against time on the X.

00:01:44:22 – 00:01:47:08
So I’m just going
to want to start recording

00:01:47:08 – 00:01:51:24
and then we can measure the sound level
in the room, ambient sound.

00:01:51:24 – 00:01:55:21
So when I’m quiet,
it looks like it’s about 28 and then when

00:01:55:21 – 00:01:59:10
I’m making noise,
it goes up to about 42

00:01:59:10 – 00:02:07:21
if I can make a lot of noise.

00:02:07:21 – 00:02:10:01
Oh, I should explain that.

00:02:10:01 – 00:02:12:14
I brought one of my son’s toys with me
so I could make some noise

00:02:12:18 – 00:02:16:15
and I just carry this around with me
everywhere, right.

00:02:16:15 – 00:02:18:24
So it looked like the maximum kind of noise
we were getting.

00:02:18:24 – 00:02:22:11
That was about 48, right

00:02:22:11 – 00:02:25:11
This gives me a good idea
of where to place that threshold.

00:02:27:06 – 00:02:28:03
So if we now come to

00:02:28:03 – 00:02:31:10
the coding tab down here in the bottom
toolbar, click this code.

00:02:32:24 – 00:02:35:00
So what we want to do is

00:02:35:00 – 00:02:39:13
if you come to the top logic bank,
I’m going to want this IF DO function,

00:02:39:13 – 00:02:41:13
I’m going to click
and drag this into the workspace.

00:02:42:00 – 00:02:45:11
So then if you’ve seen this programing
language before, it’s called Google Blockly

00:02:45:14 – 00:02:47:19
and it’s essentially
like little jigsaw pieces.

00:02:48:12 – 00:02:50:14
You don’t have to remember any syntax
or anything like that.

00:02:50:14 – 00:02:53:22
It’s a really nice introduction
to programing.

00:02:53:22 – 00:02:56:16
If you try and put one piece
next to another and it doesn’t go,

00:02:57:04 – 00:02:58:08
then it won’t let you do it.

00:02:58:08 – 00:03:00:13
So in other ways you can’t really get bugs
in the programing.

00:03:00:19 – 00:03:03:08
It just won’t let us fit them together.

00:03:03:08 – 00:03:07:23
So if… I need a comparator block

00:03:07:23 – 00:03:11:12
from the logic section, I’m
going to click and drag this block here.

00:03:12:08 – 00:03:17:07
If my value of, come to hardware
to find the sound level

00:03:19:19 – 00:03:21:21
click and drag this block into here.

00:03:23:04 – 00:03:25:23
If my value of sound level measured

00:03:25:23 – 00:03:28:10
in decibels goes above

00:03:30:03 – 00:03:32:05
come back to the graph by clicking here.

00:03:32:22 – 00:03:35:24
goes above, let’s say,
this is when I was talking

00:03:38:17 – 00:03:39:17
go for 46 hey

00:03:41:03 – 00:03:43:07
Come back to the code.

00:03:43:18 – 00:03:45:04
I need some digits to put in here.

00:03:45:04 – 00:03:48:05
So I’m going to come to the math time

00:03:48:05 – 00:03:51:07
click and drag digits from up here.

00:03:51:07 – 00:03:57:15
What did I say, 40… 46

00:03:58:12 – 00:04:00:17
and it goes above 46.

00:04:00:17 – 00:04:03:21
I want you to…
then if we come to code output down

00:04:03:21 – 00:04:06:19
I want to create a text output field.

00:04:07:19 – 00:04:10:14
This is going to be the warning
that it displays to the user.

00:04:10:14 – 00:04:12:11
So I’m going to call it WARNING and

00:04:12:11 – 00:04:16:02
click okay.

00:04:16:02 – 00:04:19:12
In the text output called warning,
I want it to

00:04:19:12 – 00:04:22:12
say that you’re being

00:04:23:23 – 00:04:26:09
too loud. (sad face)

00:04:27:12 – 00:04:30:03
otherwise or else

00:04:30:03 – 00:04:33:12
if that condition isn’t met
if we’re being quieter than that,

00:04:34:15 – 00:04:36:00
I need an ELSE function.

00:04:36:00 – 00:04:38:09
So I’m going to click
on the cog wheel in the IF DO function

00:04:39:06 – 00:04:43:04
and I click and I drag that out and plonk it under the IF

00:04:43:04 – 00:04:47:13
And that brings me up
another rung to this block.

00:04:48:14 – 00:04:51:23
So ELSE, come back to code output

00:04:52:15 – 00:04:57:05
and text output warning
and then want it to say

00:04:57:15 – 00:04:59:22
“nice and quiet”

00:05:00:05 – 00:05:03:05
smiley face.

00:05:08:14 – 00:05:10:02
Now we need to put this in a loop

00:05:10:02 – 00:05:11:10
because at the minute
it’s just going to test it once

00:05:11:10 – 00:05:13:17
and we want it to test over
and over and over again.

00:05:14:16 – 00:05:18:12
So I click on loop and I want this repeat
while block

00:05:19:13 – 00:05:22:18
I’m going to plonk that around the whole thing
and come back up to logic

00:05:22:21 – 00:05:26:14
and repeat while true.

00:05:26:14 – 00:05:30:09
Now from a coding perspective,
we are sorted, so we need to go back to

00:05:30:09 – 00:05:31:08
the experiment page.

00:05:32:13 – 00:05:33:18
We want a new display.

00:05:33:18 – 00:05:37:08
So I’m going to click on this new page up

00:05:37:08 – 00:05:39:18
I want two displays on the page.

00:05:39:18 – 00:05:41:24
I’m going to go for this landscape
option here.

00:05:42:15 – 00:05:47:04
And the top one, I’m going
to click on this 1.23 for a digits display.

00:05:47:15 – 00:05:50:20
I want it to give me the actual value
of sound level.

00:05:52:06 – 00:05:54:00
And then in the one underneath,

00:05:54:00 – 00:05:57:10
I am going to click the 1.23 again
for another digital display.

00:05:57:19 – 00:06:00:07
But in this one,
I want it to give me my warning.

00:06:03:06 – 00:06:05:18
So here I have to click on user entered

00:06:05:18 – 00:06:09:15
and then click on warning

00:06:09:15 – 00:06:11:18
drag it back to the center

00:06:12:03 – 00:06:12:18

00:06:12:18 – 00:06:14:23
And then I’ll have to do
is just press start and see what happens.

00:06:16:08 – 00:06:18:06
So this is running our code
for us in the background.

00:06:18:06 – 00:06:19:18
So the minute would be nice and quiet

00:06:19:18 – 00:06:28:11
and then if I make a lot of noise,
it should set the alarm off.

00:06:28:11 – 00:06:32:15
So I might need it to be… I might need the threshold
to be a little bit lower.

00:06:33:09 – 00:06:36:17
So going to come back to the code in page,
I’m going to set this

00:06:36:17 – 00:06:39:18
to 42

00:06:41:13 – 00:06:42:00
Come back to the

00:06:42:00 – 00:06:44:10
experiment page and press start again.

00:06:46:00 – 00:06:54:20
So I still being nice and quiet.

00:06:54:20 – 00:06:58:13
Maybe I could have done with
a constant noise

00:06:58:13 – 00:07:01:14
rather than a intermittent one
and I should explain what this is.

00:07:01:14 – 00:07:05:16
Actually, this is my son’s instrument
that I’ve brought with me

00:07:05:19 – 00:07:07:09
He’s only 18 month old.

00:07:07:09 – 00:07:10:17
And so, yeah, it’s
just a way of me making a lot of noise.

00:07:11:06 – 00:07:15:15
And so, yes,
this has been an instructional video

00:07:15:15 – 00:07:17:23
on how to make your own
some level meter in SPARKvue

00:07:17:23 – 00:07:20:01
I hope you’ve enjoyed it.

00:07:20:01 – 00:07:22:03
I hope you can make use of it
either in your classroom

00:07:22:13 – 00:07:25:15
as a way of manipulating your students
to stay quiet for you.

00:07:26:08 – 00:07:29:12
And it’s also just a nice way
of showing the students how they can do

00:07:29:21 – 00:07:33:05
a little bit of coding, a little bit
of programing in a nice, accessible way.

00:07:33:05 – 00:07:35:13
It doesn’t have to be
super scary from the get-go,

00:07:36:13 – 00:07:39:01
so yeah, I hope
it’s been useful and see you next time.


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