Introduction: Plow Strobe Upgrade Using LED's and Arduino

I bought this strobe on CL a while ago. It was kinda of wimpy compared to modern ones.

Even with the strobe board removed and staring right at the tubes it was not very bright.

I have plenty of custom PCB's lying around I made for another project so upgrading it should be easy

I got some really cheap 10W Amber LED's on eBay to fix that. I started with the blink example in the Arduino IDE and kept tweaking it until it was impossible to ignore...

You can see from the videos the difference it made.

Step 1: Mount the LED's

The first thing to do is to gut the strobe but watch out for those caps. they can hold a charge for a while and give you a really nasty shock. Save those parts for another project...

I used a Seig mini mill to hollow out the strobe cavity and make the square holes for the LED's. A Dremel would work just as well. A little touch up with a small Xacto knife for wire clearance and it ready.

I used a single series pass resistor for both LED's since I didn't plan to light them at the same time. you could use separate resistors for each LED or even Constant current sources. I wanted to keep it cheap

I like this way because I can easily add a "DIm / Bright" switch later that just parallels another resistor across this one.

I used a piece of copper flashing to solder the LED's to and a piece of aluminum angle iron acting as a heat sink to back that up. Two small screws in the center keep it all together. I epoxied the resistor to the angle iron. I'll add the second one later if I need it brighter.

Step 2: The Arduino Board

You can use whatever you happen to have on hand. An Uno, Mini, even a bare 328P and some protoboard. I have a bunch of left over Pumpkin Controllers from another Ible. I used one of those.

They have 3 N mosfets but I only populate two for this strobe. I thought about using RGB LED's and being able to make a multi use strobe. Add a switch for different patterns and colors. Blue for Volunteer Firefighters, Red for Fire, Green for EMS, Red/Blue for Police etc but that's already covered in a different Ible. This ones only plain Amber...

Besides who wants to get arrested for pushing the wrong button in public........

I have shield versions as well as standalone boards. As luck would have it the standalone board was a perfect fit into the mounting rails for the original strobe board. That settles it. I used this one:

The only problem is you either need an FTDI cable to plug in to the headphone jack on the board to let you upload programs or you need a USBASP style programmer to program the chip directly.

Luckily I have a bunch of USBASP's on hand. Even this breadboarded one with ZIF sockets for programing most 8-28 pin dip atmel chips.

Might do an Ible on that board later.

Step 3: Wiring It Up

I decided to make the power cord detachable. I used the original cord which oddly enough looks like a European AC line cord. Had to tone that cable out. Brown was ground and Blue was +12V.

I drilled out the original power cable hole to take the new jack. Once assembled it looks like it belongs there.

I didn't add a power switch but hey, it didn't come with one either..... I might add a SPDT center off switch and another resistor to make a "Bright / Off / Dim" switch.....

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