LED skateboarding with Adafruit and Atmel

Adafruit’s Noé & Pedro have created a tricked-out skateboard using Adafruit’s NeoPixels and the Atmel-powered FLORA (ATmega32u4 MCU). The electronic components are housed in a tastefully designed 3D printed structure equipped with an easy to reach power switch.

“You can grab the STL files on Thingiverse. For this project, we used the low density weatherproof NeoPixel strips and a small LiPo Battery,” the duo explained in a detailed Adafruit tutorial.

“The printed cover snaps onto the power switch. We used double sided foam tape to mount the enclosure. The NeoPixel strip slides into place with the 3D-printed clips.”

Aside from a skateboard, the Atmel-powered FLORA and NeoPixel (low density 30 LED/meter in white or black), key project components include:

  • Lithium Polymer 1200mAh
  • Micro Lipo charger to recharge the battery
  • Tactile on/off switch
  • 8 Neodymium magnets (1/4 x 1/16 inch disc)
  • Superglue/hotglue
  • Wire
  • Foam tape (double-sided)
  • Electrical tape
  • Alligator clips
  • 3D printer and soldering iron (tools)

As noted above, the 3D-printed enclosure is designed to fit the Lithium Polymer battery, FLORA and toggle power switch. The case and cover use neodymium magnets to hold them together, while the case has an opening for the wires. The cover also features a widget that allows Makers to easily snap on the toggle switch.

In terms of testing the circuits, Makers can connect the FLORA to their computer via USB.

“Use Adafruit’s Arduino app to load sketches onto the FLORA (check out the Flora tutorial for all the details). The NeoPixel examplestrandtest is a great demo sketch to test the LED strip,” Noé & Pedro explained. “Now you can attach the LiPo battery to the FLORA. Make sure to switch the onboard power switch to ON before trying to power the strips.”

The next step is testing the NeoPixel strip. Makers can hook up the LED strip to the FLORA micro-controller with alligator clips.

“Wire up a red alligator clip to the 5V pin of the strip to the vbat pin of the FLORA. Next, use a black alligator clip to the ground(GND) pin of the strip to a near by ground(GND) pin on the FLORA. Now use any other colored alligator clip to pin D6 of the FLORA to the DIN pin on the NeoPixel strip,” the two continued.

“Now you can switch on the power to the FLORA to test the NeoPixelStrip. You should see LED glowly goodness, if not, don’t worry! Just double check your alligator clip connections, the leads on the strip are tiny, so make sure the alligator clips DO NOT TOUCH or it wont work! In order to conveniently power the LED Strip from the enclosure, the tactile switch needs to connected to the LiPo battery. You will need to cut the red positive wire of the LiPo battery and solder the toggle switch between the two ends of the cut positive wire like shown in the circuit diagram.”

Interested in learning more about building a tricked-out LED skateboard with Atmel and Adafruit? You can check out Adafruit’s detailed tutorial here.

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