Introduction: MiniPOV3 Kit

Picture of MiniPOV3 Kit

This is an inexpensive Persistence of Vision (POV) toy, which is designed for beginners in electronics. You swing this little thing around to reveal a customizable message or image through it's 8 red LEDs. It has 4 holes for mounting on bikes, fans, and anything else that swings around. You can purchase this kit from the Make Store.

This project is the third revision of the MiniPOV. This version is nearly identical to the last version, MiniPOV2 but uses the serial port (possibly with a USB/Serial converter) instead of a parallel port, for programming. Because the programmer is built into the kit, one does not need a special "microcontroller programmer". This version can be used with PCs (Linux/Unix or Windows) and Macs (running MacOS X and with a USB/serial converter).

This kit is great for soldering beginners. To learn the basics of soldering check out this great guide by noahw. Also, here's a good video tutorial from the MAKE blog.

Step 1: What You Get and What You Need.

Picture of What You Get and What You Need.

This kit is great because it's mostly self contained. The only thing you really need is two AA batteries and time. It's also easier if your computer has a serial port; it looks like the monitor output but inverted.

A note on the resistors: electrical components are marked by colors, and you'll be getting all sorts of things that look the same. Be careful not to mix them up!

What you get:
1 ATtiny2313 Microcontroller - IC
1 20 Pin Socket for microcontroller - IC1
3 1/4W 5% 4.7K resistors - R10-R12 (Red band)
8 1/4W 5% 47 ohm resistors - R1-9 (Brown band)
3 5.1V Zener Diode - D1-D3 (Red body)
1 Battery case with screw - U1
8 Red LED - D1-8
1 DB-9 female connector w/solder cup
1 Sticky pad

What components you'll need:
2 AA batteries
(if you don't have a serial port) USB to serial converter
The ones with the PL-2303 chipset work:
Here or here or somewhere else

What tools you'll need.
Rosin core, 60/40 solder
Soldering Iron hopefully with a pencil-like tip
Wire clippers
A vice to hold up the PCB
(You can get all this stuff really cheap at or

Step 2: Resistance Isn't Futile!

Picture of Resistance Isn't Futile!

Lets first populate the PCB with resistors and diodes-- you know, to keep those LED's in line!

An organized approach will ensure no mix-ups. Here's the order to attach components:
R10-12 (Red Band)
R1-9 (Brown Band)
D1-3 (Red Body)

Before I hand it off to the images, here's the basic idea:
You put the component in the PCB in on the side with writing, bend the tails a little, turn the board over and solder them into place. Then cut the excess tails off at the start. Follow the images, and look at the comments.

Note that the D1-3 diodes need to placed in a specific orientation. Align the band on the PCB to the band on the diode. (Check out pictures for illustration).

Step 3: Serial Port.

Picture of Serial Port.

This step is short because the LED's deserve extra attention.

Stick the serial port to match the terminals on the board. When soldering make sure you get some solder underneath the soldering cups as well as in it. Don't forget to solder both sides down.

There's a close up of the finished serial port in the next step, as well.

Step 4: LEDs

Picture of LEDs

This part may is a little tricky so be cautious.

LEDs have a positive and negative end. The easiest way to tell them apart is by the longer end, which is positive. On the PCB, the negative end is closer to the edge.

Insert all the LEDs into the LED spots with the shorter tail close to the edge. Follow the usual procedure of bending the tails a little bit before soldering, solder, and then clip off the tails. Don't worry if any LED is not perfectly straight; it won't be noticeable.

Step 5: IC U R OK

Picture of IC U R OK

There's a little "U" shaped gap on the IC socket as well as the PCB board. Line up the IC socket to the PCB. (Remember you're going to solder the IC socket not the actual IC to the board).

This is also a little annoying- you may need to hold the socket into place with your finger as you solder at least one end in. It may be easier to just put the entire board on the end of your table for the first few soldering points. After that you can move the board back to your vice since the socket will not fall out.

Solder everything, and then stick the IC on top. Remember to also line up the IC (has the "U" drown on it) with the socket. There's a dark circle on the IC, which should be facing the serial port when oriented properly.

Step 6: POWER

Picture of POWER

Almost finished!

Solder the battery wires into place. Attach the wires so they're over the top of the PCB. (See pictures).

The RED wire is +
The BLACK wire is -

You may want to snip the tails a little bit.

Step 7: IC U R OK 2 C.

Picture of IC U R OK 2 C.

Now that construction is complete put your AA batteries into the case, and switch them on. The KIT will have a pre-programmed message.

The MiniPOV needs to have the serial port facing up, and you swing it to from right to left so someone can read the message. Being in a shady room helps. You can experiment with something reflective like a turned off tv. (Then you'll need to swing it from left to right to read it yourself).

Step 8: Customizing.

Picture of Customizing.

There's a good list of instructions at the official site and more specially about customizing here. It's easiest and quickest to do in Windows, but there is software for OS X and Linux as well. Check out the links above for details. An overview follows:

-- You get the latest WinAVR. Install it.
-- Get the latest MiniPOV source. Extract it somewhere like C:\minipov.
-- Use Tool 1 or Tool 2 to generate a custom message, and save the file as mypov.c in the directory you extracted
-- Plug the MiniPOV into your PC's serial port and turn the MiniPOV on (lights stay off)
-- Start/Run, "cmd," cd c:\minipov, "make program-mypov"

These are overly simplified. Again check out the links for more detailed instructions (no sense in copying everything here).


techguy56 (author)2013-02-03

I LIKE this kit. I don't take TAXIs very often, but if I go to a town again I don't have my vehicle with me, I can throw this out and use it to help hail a taxi (and save maybe a dollar or two on phone calls, just to get a high priced taxi). Have you seen what cabs are getting????

srcb (author)2012-09-05


kindrudekid (author)2010-08-28

okay i own a street bike.... Yahama FZ 16 the front tyres have disk brakes... is there anyway u or any1 temme i can use this trick on my front wheel ... sucuh that i i can take power frm my bike's battery..... i owuld like to know something sort of wire arangement that would easil keep connection on the rotating tyre while driving

jisaiah (author)kindrudekid2011-09-16

if you want to build something onto your wheel that does not need a battery, try rigging up a magnet on the stationary post and a coil of wire attached to your circuitry on your wheel. As the wheel turns the coil will generate power by traveling through the magnetic field. You will need a power regulation circuit to smooth out the power generated by this method. Just the power circuit would be a challenging project for me, but its a start.

The only wire connection i can envision would be similar to the brushes inside a brushed dc motor.

kindrudekid (author)jisaiah2011-09-16

too late buddy,
i sold off the bike and now m in states

thnx for the help tough

arbita2 (author)2011-06-04

ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok

Nanovirus (author)2009-05-11

NO IVE PUT MINE IN BACKWARDS!! WAAA. I don't have a desoldering Iron, Vacuum pump or desoldering tape. What do i do?

tssguy123 (author)Nanovirus2009-10-01

lol, i just heated the solder back up with the soldering iron, but im sure that isn't good. but eh it worked?

Nanovirus (author)tssguy1232009-10-02

Haha. Nah I solved that problem ages ago now XD. I got to Really pay attention to the diagrams. Thanks very much anyway

dark clerick (author)2009-08-20

hey could i get all this stuff from radio shack? im trying to make the 3x3x3 led cube.

paopaosha (author)2009-05-21

could you give me the code of this function please,my thanks in advance

ram1728 (author)2009-04-27

This is a great project. Has anyone ever tried/seen one of these with 16 or 32 LED's?

Capt. Fat (author)2009-04-03

I bought a clock that works the same way, but it is automatic

hughligen (author)2008-11-12

instead of using the DB-9 female connector it would be cool if you could do it with USB because most PCs and no Macs have serial ports these days

mikemmcmeans (author)2008-01-04

what is the sensor for????????? 3 pins in the corner marked (+)(-)(s) why are they left unsoldiered? why?

ltkenbo (author)mikemmcmeans2008-10-23

The sensor is to determine how the miniPOV3 is moved. Because if you use it without a sensor it doesn't know when to start pulsing to it might display backwards sometimes.

MAKEkits (author)mikemmcmeans2008-01-21

Sorry for the really late reply. You should ask ladyada about the sensor. It's there for people messing with the board. For general use, don't worry about it.

imarunner2 (author)2007-05-31

I'm wondering about the feasibility of implementing a "font" then have this thing display any string that can be sent in via the serial port. With a wireless serial link you could feed it RSS streams realtime... How cool would that be?

Derin (author)imarunner22008-07-18

too cool

Talon876 (author)2008-06-17

Would you be able to use this, or something similar?

and the rest of the components to make this?
I'm going to Radioshack soon and I'd rather buy all the parts there than have to wait for products to arrive in the mail.

MAKEkits (author)Talon8762008-06-18

yes you can use a breadboard to build this. You can find a schematic for it on

junniver (author)MAKEkits2008-06-23

how come the link doesn't work?

=SMART= (author)2008-06-18

wow this is very cool, are you selling kits on the marketplace?? do you know what the overall cost of the parts is??

MAKEkits (author)=SMART=2008-06-18

yes you can get it from the make shed.

=SMART= (author)MAKEkits2008-06-18

ok thanks :D

wannaknw (author)2008-06-11

i'd like to make one of those someday.... but does anyone know how to make ones that are easily programmable... like not needing it to be attached to a pc to do so?

stasterisk (author)2008-01-27

The latest minipov source link seems to be broken. Is it available anywhere else?

PyroMonger (author)2008-01-22

this is a sweet should enter the Get the LED OUT contest with it if you haven't already done so.

MAKEkits (author)PyroMonger2008-01-22

Thanks for the message. But Ladyada who's connected to the contest made this kit originally-- so it would be very odd if it won. :)

Shifrin (author)2007-11-24

How do you Program the minipov3???

petes98 (author)Shifrin2007-11-25

using the avrdude software

pierson (author)2007-11-17

To make it easier to solder the socket into the board, put a small rubber band (or two, one on each end, if you can't center just one rubber band perfectly) around the socket and the board. Then you can turn the board upside down without the socket falling out. You only need it until you have enough solder holding the socket in place. Then you can use the soldering iron to melt the rubber bands and snap your fingers. Ouch!

nosferatuspacho (author)2007-07-14

Hello, I am very been interested in this project and me gustaria in clarifying some doubts. Between(among) the important mas the first one is the cost of the kit, the second one the quantity of letters that apareceran in, the third doubt is since(as,like) the pcb. suits to obtain the pieces com in addition I am in colombia, and it(he,she) wanted to do some projects that include this piece (minipov3) then it(he,she) wanted to know since(as,like) we will be able to be convenient(to agree) the delivery if you are a manufacturer, you prop, many mas you doubt. Him(her) agradesco that me envie information to the e-mail I wait upload for a projection project of analyzer of simple spectrum with red laser, but it(he,she) wanted to know where to obtain mas colors. (translated by : hola, estoy muy interesado en este proyecto y me gustaria aclarar algunas dudas. entre las mas importantes la primera es el costo de el kit, la segunda la cantidad de letras que apareceran en el, la tercera duda es como conviene conseguir las piezas com la pcb. ademas yo me encuentro en colombia, y quisiera hacer algunos proyectos que incluyan esta pieza ( el minipov3 ) entonces quisiera saber como podremos convenir la entrega si usted es fabricante, ademas, muchas mas dudas. le agradesco que me envie informacion al email espero upload un proyecto de proyeccion de analizador de espectro simple con laser rojo, pero quisiese saber donde conseguir mas colores.

Chanio (author)nosferatuspacho2007-10-13

Esta es la dirección a la que me referia:


Chanio (author)nosferatuspacho2007-10-13

Hola, me parece que tendrías que contactarte con los creadores. Este chico solo está siguiendo las ideas originales para hacer su aparato.

El indica más arriba que hay que dirigirse a: pero, si mal no recuerdo, allí te envian a una sede web propia.

Ellos venden el equipo básico y creo que hacen envios por correo. Luego, combinando los manuales de esa sede con lo que hizo este joven, podés tener una idea buena de como armar tus proyectos.

La moda, creo que viene de Japón. Usan unos aparatos más pequeños para enviarse mensajes o dibujos.

Suerte con tus ideas.

Izzie404 (author)2007-10-03

From the pictures I have seen, the LEDs are white, but mine came as red. Is that bad?

MAKEkits (author)Izzie4042007-10-03

They're supposed to be red. I think the photos are misleading. White LEDs are $$$. (relatively)

TechnoMancer (author)2007-07-16

would it be possible to put a schematic of this up????

arseny (author)TechnoMancer2007-09-16

I think you can get that info from the developer's site. Look up adafruit.

lucasaf (author)2007-05-07

Hello i'm from Brazil. My name is Lucas. Do you send the kit to Brazil? Best regards

Athlon (author)2007-04-07

Can you upload a print of PCB and is there a model or someting like that or it's just "ATtiny2313 Microcontroller" TNX Great project

MAKEkits (author)Athlon2007-04-09

You should go to the project's site. There's no PCB print, but a schematic is there. The microcontroller is described a little bit more, but it's pretty much that. Other thing is that it's preprogrammed so unless you have a programmer for these you might as well buy the kit.

aiden120000 (author)2007-04-01

can i do this with different colour leds?

MAKEkits (author)aiden1200002007-04-01

Sure! You should be careful though because different colors tend to have different different power needs. You'll need to investigate. Try one an Led calculator.

mspark400 (author)2007-03-29

Help full for asssembly i guess although i thought it was instructions on how to make one , nice pictures good job

MAKEkits (author)mspark4002007-03-29

Thanks! If you like this thing you might as well buy the kit, the PCB itself makes up most of the cost. It's not a bad deal.

About This Instructable




More by MAKEkits:Make a magnet sculptureMicroreader Kit and BeyondCreate Your Own Electronic Game Kit
Add instructable to: