Introduction: Build This Microcontroller Controlled Rainbow Flying Disc - and Then Throw It!

Hello all and welcome to this super simple and inexpensive instructable.

If you like throwing frisbees AND you like flashing lights AND you like night time - then this instructable is for you!

Have you ever waved a light or torch around and found that it 'draws' lines in the air? What if that light was changing colour multiple times per second and then you waved it around? well you would end up with a 'stream' of different colours in the air. It is this principle that this instructable works on.

You can try it out here, click on the link below to open up a flashing dot animation.

The dot is cycling through seven colours at a rate of 60hz (I.E. it changes colour sixty times per second) Now keep looking at it but shake your head from side to side REALLY FAST! (or you could pick up your monitor and shake it really fast but it's probably not a good idea...)

You should start to see the single dot seperate into multiple dots of various colours.

Basically this instructable consists of a cheap $2 frisbee, a pic microcontroller a few resistors and an RGB (RED, GREEN, BLUE) LED mounted to the outer edge of the frisbee. The LED cycles through seven different colours (multiple times per second). When you throw the frisbee, it will give the illusion of a rainbow ring as it flies across the sky. It does look really cool!

So before we get started on this instructable, here's what you are going to need:

- One Frisbee
- pic 16f648a or 16f628a microcontroller
- one 18 pin IC socket
- one RGB LED (I was originally going to use three, thats why the pic has three LED's)
- three resistors (I have used 100 ohm for each)
- one coin cell battery (I have used CR2032 which runs at 3 volts)
- one coin cell battery holder.
- small piece of veroboard (AKA experimenters board)

- hookup wire

- Soldering iron
- Solder
- Glue gun
- solder wick (optional - if you make a soldering mistake)
- flux (optional - just helps with soldering)
- pic programmer
- stanley knife or sharp blade (to cut tracks)
- side cutters (to cut the wire)

All the items required to make this can be bought for under $10

Please note, the rainbow ring image below is of the actual project although I had to edit it a little bit because a single image from a digital camera does not capture a complete rainbow ring due to the refresh rate differences. It looks really cool in real life though = )

So, let's get started!

Step 1: Program the Microcontroller.

You can download the hex file to program to your microcontroller on this page.

Load up your programmer software and open the hex file. Program it to the pic and your done!

You are now ready to start building this great rainbow frisbee!

Step 2: Prepare the Veroboard

Cut your veroboard to size. approx 20 holes by 10 holes should do the job nicely. This will allow you to fit all of the components on the board quite snuggly.

Step 3: Prepare Veroboard Tracks.

This step is very simple.

You just need to cut two lines through the tracks of the veroboard as shown in the photo. This is where you will be soldering the microcontroller and resistors to.

Step 4: Solder the Components to the Board.

There are just five components to solder to the board.

- battery holder
- three resistors
- IC socket

Solder them into the locations as shown in the photo's.

You will also need two wires to go from the battery terminals to the microcontroller.

The positive connection is the blue wire and the negative is the white wire.

Step 5: Solder the Wires to the LED and to the Board.

You need four lengths of hookup wire to solder to the LED and to the board. You just need to make sure that they reach from the board (which will be glued to the centre of the frisbee) to the LED on the outer edge of the frisbee.

Three of the wires will connect to the three resistors (the ends of the resistors not connected to the microcontroller) the other wire connects to ground. Each RGB LED may vary slightly so you will need to consult your datasheet for which is the common cathode of your particular LED. It really doesn't matter which resistor you connect the RGB connections to because we are just cycling through the different colours.


It will do those colours in some order, but the order really doesn't matter.

NOTE: in the veroboard photo below, the very right wire comming from the LED is ground, and then the three to the left of that wire are the RGB connections.

Step 6: Glue It All Into the Frisbee.

Fire up your hot melt glue gun and glue the circuit board into the centre of the frisbee.

Once the board glue has set, glue your LED to the outer edge of the frisbee. Then use a little more glue to hold the wires to the frisbee so that they are not sitting there loosely.

It would be a good idea to place a couple of blobs of glue forming a triangle shape around the edge of the frisbee. I.E. the led is one point of the triangle shape. This will give the frisbee better stability.

Step 7: Testing and Flying!

Grab your battery and insert it into the battery holder. You should be presented with a very pretty flashing LED. In a semi dark or dark room, give the frisbee a wave up and down and you should get a stream of rainbow colour infront of you. If this happens then congratulations! it works!

Now if you don't have any friends, go and make one. Then throw the frisbee to one another and experience the thrill that is, rainbow frisbee!

Light Up the Night! Contest

Runner Up in the
Light Up the Night! Contest