Programmable LED Skateboard
Alexander Chen, Harrison Chen
Date: Sept. 1, 2010
The programmable LED skateboard is my first project not related to any courses. I have learned so much knowledge in practical electronics and prototyping work flow throughout the process. It made me understand the true meaning of engineering and how joyful life could be if you absolutely love what you do. I realized building technology that changes people’s life and make people happy is what I want to do for the rest of my life.
This project allows users to design their personal light show by programming Arduino mini. All lights installed on the skateboard are controlled by Arduino mini via digital pins. Limited PWM signal can be used to control the intensity of lights.
To build a solid add-on for the skateboard, I put together 14 transistors and LED lights along with an Arduino mini on the bottom of my skateboard. Each transistor acts as a switch for each LED lights. In order to make sure the lights and wires are well protected, after the board is well soldered, I seal the entire PCB with glue gun. This will not only enhance the life span of the wires, but will also provide reasonable water proof functionality.
Battery Life & Installation
In my first prototype, I used 4 AA batteries to charge up all the lights and micro-controller. The batteries can last about two hours, which is satisfactory. However, the main problem comes from the heavy weight of 4 AA batteries. In the second prototype, we switched the AA batteries with lithium ion battery along with a on board rechargeable system. This solution significantly decrease the weight and make the skateboard experience much better.
Arduino mini is used to be the central controlling unit of the whole system. It can be load custom made light show algorithm created by the user and perform it in a loop. Also, the processor can also take input from external sources such as infrared, Bluetooth to perform remote controlled light show.
Night Skateboarding & Safety
Besides how cool you can be with all the lights under your feet, these lights can also keep you away from tragic car accidents at night. Due to the low visibility at night, it is very hard for car drivers to see skateboarders if they are skateboarding on the streets. With these lights shining in interesting pattern designed by the user, it will be hard for any car passed by without noticing you.