Introduction: RGB LED Skate Lights

About: Youtube engineer that has a passion for understanding what's actually happening. I try my very best to make thorough tutorials that explain everything in-depth so you leave with a completed understanding, rath…
I like to go skating every week but I noticed that the my skates weren't cool enough so I decided it was time for some lights! I installed these lights on my Dad's skates as a thank-you present for taking care of the pool for us :D. Thanks Dad!

The project is just two RGB LEDs controlled by a ATtiny2313. Very cheap and easy to make with GREAT results!

Please give it a vote for the Microcontroller and I Could Make That contest and favorite!

My project is trying to imitate these. What's the point in buying them if you could make them???

Step 1: Ingredients:

  • ATtiny2313
  • 20 DIP chip holder
  • Arduino
  • RGB common anode LEDs with appropriate resistors.
  • A diode. Really any kind of diode will work. The only purpose it has is to lower the voltage a little bit. The battery pack which is 4 AAA puts out 6 volts. The ATtiny2313 peak voltage is 5.5 so I use a diode that drops the voltage (from the battery pack) .7v just to be safe. That gives about 5.3v which is just under the ATtiny's max voltage.
  • Wires
  • Breadboard with jumpers
  • Perf board
  • 90 degree pin headers
  • Female pin headers
  • 4x AAA battery. I bought this one from Radioshack and it worked great. Usually I don't buy from Radioshack but it was cheap enough (2.99$).
  • Heat Shrink
  • Wire strippers/cutters/
  • Soldering gun and solder
  • Dremel or other device to cut perf board
  • Sharpie
  • Electrical tape
  • Double-sided tape
Last of all you will need the Arduino sketch. You can download that from here.

Step 2: Programming the ATtiny2313 and Schematic

While I'm not going to explain how to do this in this i'ble I made a very detailed i'ble on how to program the chip. Head over to to see how to program the IC.

Step 3: A Little Background on the RGB LEDs

For my project I used common anode LEDs. So basically you have to connect the common anode (the longer lead) to 3.3 volts and then to turn on each LED you have to connect the other leads to GND. But I ran into a problem when I was trying to use it with my Arduino. The problem was I need the three RGB pins to be connected to GND, not 5v (which is outputted from an Arduino pin). After reading up on common anode RGB LEDs I figured out that you have to use a technique called current sinking. Now to be honest I have no idea how this works but basically you connect the all the pins to the Arduino with resistors. In order to turn the LEDs on you have to set the Arduino pin to LOW. To turn it off you set the pin to HIGH. Yeah, it's crazy!

I accidentally made the mistake of solder the common anode to the GND of the board. So most of the pictures will show them soldered to the GND of the board. Instead they should be soldered to the Vcc on the board.

Step 4: Beginning the Perf

Insert the DIP socket into the perf board and push the pins over on the backside so that it is held onto the perf. Also insert the 90 degree pin header in one of the corners.

The pin headers is for the power for the circuit. Solder a wire from the top pin header to the Vcc (of the ATtiny2313). The bottom lead gets soldered to GND of the IC. Check the pinout if you are unsure.

Now remember we are not actually soldering to the ATtiny2313 itself but we are soldering to it's socket. This is so that we can re-use the IC or reprogram it by just popping it out of the socket. If you soldered it directly to the board then you would have to unsolder the whole thing just to get it off.

Step 5: Preparing the Electronics

  1. Cut the leads short on the resistors and the LEDs. Make sure you leave a slightly longer lead on the LED so that you know which one is the common anode.
  2. Cut 6 two inch wires and strip both ends.
  3. Cut two different colored wires to about 2.5 inches. Strip the ends.
  4. Melt some solder onto the wires, LED leads, and resistor leads. This will make it a little easier to solder other wires to it.
  5. Spread apart the leads on the LEDs.

Step 6: Soldering

Now it's time to get to work on those LEDs. Clamp them down using helping hands and solder resistors to the three negative leads. On to the common anode solder your longer wire. Shrink heat shrink over all the exposed wires.

Step 7: More Soldering

Using a 3.3v power source (like on the Arduino), test each LED lead and make then make a drawing of which leads are connected to which colors. Then you'll be able to solder the correct leads to the pins 13, 12, and 11.

According to the sketch here is what each LED connects to.

Green = Pin 11
Blue = Pin 12
Red = Pin 13

The common anode (from the RGB LED) gets soldered to the Vcc on your board. I drilled out two holes near the pin header and soldered the to wires to the VCC side.

Step 8: Even More Soldering

Now you will need to solder the other LED in exactly the same way as the first. Make sure that the three leads go to pins 13, 12, and 11 and the common anode gets soldered to Vcc or the power source on your board.

Step 9: Creating the Battery Pack Connections

We're almost done soldering!!! Find that female pin header and cut it down to two segments. Solder on a red and black wire. Now you skates may not be as handy as mine. You may have to place the batter on the top of your shoe, or in your sock or something so that's up to you were you are going to put the battery pack. If you are going to put the battery pack were I did you can cut the wires to about 2 inches.

Strip the wires coming from the battery pack. You may want to cut the wire you are going to put the diode of a little shorter than the other to keep them the same length. Solder on the diode and connect the battery pack to the female pin header. Don't forget to put heat shrink tubing on first!

Step 10: Test!

Push the ATtiny2313 into the socket. Make sure that the top is facing the pin headers. Plug in the female battery connections into the male on the perf board. If it doesn't work don't panic. Turn the switch that's on the battery pack to ON :).

Step 11: Finishing the Board

I covered the bottom of the circuit board to avoid any connections being shorted out on the metal support on the skate. I also covered the top side in electrical tape.

You may want to put a big piece of heat shrink over all the leads on the LEDs.

Step 12: Mounting the Board

Stick a piece of double sided tape to circuit board then push it up against a flat surface on your skate. Run a piece of tape lengthwise across the battery pack and slide it into the shoe. Again, your shoe may not have this hand cutout so you may need to tape it to the side of your skate, on top, or stuff it into your sock.

Now you may be wondering why I went through all the trouble of adding the two pin header connections. This is so that while you are skating and either the battery back comes off or the board comes off they will disconnect from each other with ripping anything. That'll ave you the trouble of resoldering things. Plug in the power. Make sure you have the correct polarity!

Step 13: Be the Cool Dude on the Skate Floor!

Slide on the switch to on and go rockin'! Trust me, EVERYBODY at the rink will be like, WHOA! Especially when they turn the lights off and fog up the place :D

I hope you enjoyed these instructions if you have ANY questions feel free to leave a comment below OR PM me.

Don't forget to give it a vote for the Microcontroller contest and favorite!

Until next time!

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