How to Install LEDs Under a Scooter (with Bluetooth)

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About: Making and sharing are my two biggest passions! In total I've published hundreds of tutorials about everything from microcontrollers to knitting. I'm a New York City motorcyclist and unrepentant dog mom. My ...

Intro: How to Install LEDs Under a Scooter (with Bluetooth)

Join me in creating ground effect lighting for my scooter using a bluetooth microcontroller and addressable LED strip.

For this project I'm recycling two bits of pixel strip leftover from my old POV bike project tutorial. These are APA102s or DotStars, but you could totally use Neopixels for this project, I just happened to have this set of two strips wired in parallel, which is perfect for sticking under my scooter.

For this project you will need:

Legal disclaimer! The automotive underglow lighting laws where you live may prohibit some or all colors/animations-- where I live, only solid white is technically allowed, and I don't drive with any other colors/patterns in traffic. Never use flashing lights in the colors emergency vehicles use!

Step 1: Build the Circuit

I double checked and touched up the solder connections, which I made on alternating sides of the strip. It's just cleaner that way.

I'm using the waterproof alkaline battery holder from the bike project as a project enclosure in this project. It already has a waterproof switch and is the right size for a Bluefruit Feather microcontroller and flat lithium battery, so I removed the metal bits and cut away small sections to maximize the interior volume.


I also removed the original wires and hot glue using a bit of rubbing alcohol. I did something in this project I don't normally recommend folks do, which is to solder directly to the leads of a lithium battery, and that's because you could short it out and cause a fire. Anyway I badly wanted to use the switch built in to the waterproof battery pack so I spliced it in.

Then I tinned the LED strip wires and fed them through the opening. I soldered up power, ground, and data and clock to two different microntroller pins.

Step 2: Customize Code & Upload

Once I had the circuit assembled, I went to program it using my Arduino software. I modified a bluetooth sketch I made for my 2017 LED sign which used Neopixels but the same bluetooth Arduino compatible feather board. The sketch includes configurable color and a few animation patterns.

Download the scooter_underlight.zip file and open scooter_underlight.ino with your Arduino software.

Step 3: Install Magnetized Circuit Under Scooter

To prepare the pixel strip for the underside of my scooter, I taped neodymium magnets to each end and used hot glue and more tape to seal up the ends. I've used silicone adhesive to seal up pixel strip before, but it takes 24 hours to dry and I just wasn't willing to wait this time-- I wanted this to be a one day build.

I tried the same treatment with rare earth magnets inside the enclosure, but it just didn't feel sticky enough for the bumpy road. So I found this old CB radio antenna magnet and bolted it to the lid.

Step 4: Enjoy!

Now all the parts feel super secure stuck to the steel structure of my scooter. Maybe someday I'll wire these lights into the electrical system of my bike, but for now I'll just remove the circuit for charging.

The Arduino sketch pairs with the Adafruit Bluefruit LE connect app to adjust the LED color and change between a few patterns. It looks just like my vehicles in GTA 5 online!

Thanks for following along! I'd love to hear how you'd make this project your own in the comments below.

Step 5: More Photos & Thank You!

Here are some more photos of the finished project in action.

If you like this project, you may be interested in some of my others:

To keep up with what I'm working on, follow me on YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and Snapchat.

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    9 Discussions

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    oKeeg

    3 days ago

    For those wondering if this is illegal...

    1. For some places like Iowa where I live, some cops don't really care unless you're the only person on the road.

    2. You can always check online in the actual documentation by looking up your state's codes

    3. Also for people in Iowa, it is LEGAL if the colors are not red, blue, or amber and the bulb is not showing(and are well hidden) and are not animating! My friends and I have been riding around with color changing underglow for years and have not had a problem driving passed cops. We have contacted police officers to confirm our suspicion as well.

    Here is a video of my Highschool car that I used with an custom underglow as well!

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    silvertinkerer

    8 days ago

    There are several states in the US where this is illegal as well. I checked where I am in NY, & if the motor vehicle is moving than you could get a ticket. If you have them on while parked but off while moving than you are ok. I was going to do this on my motorcycle, then looked it up. I wish I could.

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    Pothuset

    21 days ago

    I think it's exactly what my 24 year old Peugeot Speedake (called Speedy) will like to be equipped with.

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    bekathwiatercero

    Reply 21 days ago

    What are you trying to say?! Also my scooter has alloy wheels and goes 70mph.

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    marvinmole51

    22 days ago on Step 5

    it must be noted that blue/ violet/ purple/ green lights under a vehicle on a road/ highway (including pavement/ sidewalk/ path) is ILLEGAL in the uk...... you are only allowed white or amber to the front and red or amber to the rear.

    1 reply
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    bekathwiamarvinmole51

    Reply 21 days ago

    It really *must*, huh? Even with my legal disclaimer in the introduction? Buzzkill, man. Guess I'm just an LED scofflaw.