LED Snowboard Kit

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About: Designer / Electrical Engineer specializing in Lighting

In this tutorial you will learn how to install a high quality waterproof LED strip to a snowboard. Unlike the other tutorials out there for lighting up your board these LEDs are made to stay. They wont fall off or malfunction after a couple of runs down the slope. What makes this possible is the use of extremely robust individually addressable LED strips. You have the option of more than 200 lighting patterns and of course all of your standard solid colors like Red, Green, Blue and White. Powered with a 12V 6000mAh battery pack, an RF controller and remote, this snowboard kit will stay lit for up to 6 hours! By the time your finished with this tutorial you will be able to successfully install the LED strip to your snowboard and transform your night time boarding experience!

Check out the snowboard in action at the end of this Instructable!

Step 1: Materials

There are lots of different brands for the items in the list below. If you'd like to use the same exact materials that I did I've put all these materials together into a kit Here.

Materials

  • RF controller
  • WS2811/Color Chasing 5M LED strip
    • ( Whatever strip you do use, ensure that the strip is waterproof and the adhesive backing is extremely strong. )
  • 12V battery
  • Extension Wire ( From board to controller in pocket )
  • Split Cable
    • Instructions on how to build your own in the next step. (Connects the RF Controller, to the battery and the extensions coming from your board)

  • Zip Tie
  • Zip Tie Adhesive Mount
  • Pouch for battery and RF Controller

Needed Supplies/Tools

  • Snowboard
  • Heat Gun
  • Screw Driver ( For Removing Bindings )
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Cleaning Rag
  • Scissors

Step 2: Wiring

The only piece of this project that I was not able to find an easy solution too was the splitter that connects the RF controller, the battery and the extension wire than runs down your snowboard. If you dont want to go through the hassle of building this splitter i've included it into the kit i mentioned in the last step. Above ive provided a diagram of how the wires need to be soldered together.

Split Cable Materials:

  • Right Angle Male DC Power 5.5mm x 2.1mm Cables (Connects to Battery)
  • 3-Pin Female JST Connector (For connecting to the RF controller)
  • LED Out connector
    • Now this may vary depending on what type of LED Strand you used, I will be using 5-pin waterproof barrel connectors, many of the other LED strips on the market use the same 3-Pin JST connectors listed above.

Before Installing Your LED Strip Pay Attention To:

  • LED In, Not LED Out: One thing to remember about these LED strands is that they have an input and an output. If you connect to the output of the LEDs they WILL NOT LIGHT UP. If you end up adhering the LED strip in the wrong direction the only way to fix that is to manually solder an input to the LED strip or buy an entire new strip. PLEASE PAY ATTENTION TO THIS STEP.
  • How to Identify LED In: As seen in the photo above, the input of the LED strip can be identified by the (DI) where the wiring connects to the LED strip. This DI stands for Data In, if you have ever used flowing/chasing/WS2811 LED strips you have seen the arrows on the LED strip showing the direction of the data. This is essentially the same thing without the arrows, you have an in and an out for the LED strip.
  • Why do LED Strips Have Direction: The LEDs in these strips are individually addressable that simply means they are capable of changing colors independent from each other. What makes this possible is the flow of data from one LED to the next in line telling each one what color its supposed to be. Picture yourself driving on the express way, your car is the data and all of the exits are the LEDs. Now imagine there is no alternative road that allows traffic to flow in the opposite direction. Therefore, there is only one flow of traffic (data on the LED strip).

Update 10/2/2018:

Since this tutorial was posted earlier this year I have upgraded the RF controllers and LED strip used. The LED strip now has a 3-pin female input and male output. Making it impossible to connect the LED strips in the wrong direction. The use of a female input also makes it nearly impossible to crush the input connector! Here is link if anyone is interested!

Step 3: Assembly

Hopefully you now understand what end of the strip is the input, starting with the input, you now need to outline your snowboard:

  • Snowboard Preparation: Remove the bindings from your board and make sure you thoroughly clean the edges and center of the board with rubbing alcohol. This is very important because it removes dust and unwanted oils, allowing for the 3M tape to adhere properly to the board.
    • *If you need help removing your bindings tryout this video I found on Youtube.
  • Adhering the LED Strip: Begin by applying the adhesive backed zip tie mount just before the location where the LED strip will begin. It is preferred to start from a slightly closer distance to the binding that will always be strapped in while riding (This zip tie mount is used to prevent unwanted tension on the LED strip connector wire). Ensure you have the input of your LED strip, now start adhering it to your snowboard from the edge of the zip tie mount (This is where the LED strip will connect to the battery/controller). Heat the LED strip and board at the location of application just before applying to the board (This ensures a strong adhesive binding to the board). As you approach the curved end of your board you may need to apply more heat in order to bend the strip around the curve properly. Repeat at the opposite end of your board. Once you reach the beginning of your LED strip you now need to cut the LED strip to length. As seen in the photos above, there are designated points on the LED strip where you can cut it to length safely. Using the provided zip tie, loop under the LED strip connector with the zip tie mount and firmly tighten.

Step 4: Controlling Your Snowboard

See how easy that was? Now comes the fun part:

  • Connecting the Battery / Controller to the LED strip: The 9 foot extension wire will need to be ran up your snow pants or directly to the pocket that will be holding the battery / controller case. If running the wire down pants, drop the wire down the leg that will be closest to the connector that is near the foot that stays binded. Line up the butt connector so that the arrows are pointing directly at each other. The connectors have a small plastic key that distinguishes the correct pin to pin electrical connection (As seen in the photo above). This must be lined up correctly in order to push the connector in. Pull up any slack and store the extra amount of wire within the same pocket that the battery / controller case is stored in (This can be in your snow pants pocket or a jacket pocket depending on what fits / feels the best). Connect the other end of the extension wire with the connector coming from the splitter for the battery / controller. This has the same key profile as the other end. Finally, plug in the wire coming from the controller to the battery pack and the system will be powered at 12 Volts (Battery will last for more than 6 hours, This duration can vary depending on the patterns and brightness of your board).
  • How To Control Your LED Strip: Using the remote control, press power button to turn on the LED strip. Utilizing the other various buttons toggle through 200 different patterns and solid colors. This remote control also has buttons that change the speed and brightness of the LEDs. The speed can be adjusted while running any of the moving patterns. To adjust brightness you need to be using a solid color. After selecting a solid color, change the brightness to desired level and then you can select any pattern using that brightness. To turn off, press the power button and unplug the battery.

Looking forward to seeing your responses and I hope you guys enjoyed this tutorial. Now enjoy being the most "lit" snowboarder on the hill and share with us your results!

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12 Discussions

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mister.radocz

6 months ago

Great project!

Can you give a link or a place where i can buy a led strip like yours?

PS: by the way, for some reason I can not imagine bending a thin film 'pcb' sideways. Why do yours look so good on picture? :)

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FamousModsmister.radocz

Reply 2 months ago

I know I am a little late to the response but i just started selling these kits on etsy if you are interested! I also have a listing up for just the LED strips as well!

Full Kit:

https://www.etsy.com/listing/574182168/snowboard-l...

LED Strip:
https://www.etsy.com/listing/556338598/ws2811-12v-...


And by the way thank you for the compliment, the heat gun is really the key to making a nice bend around the board. Just take your time, apply even heat, and work your way around!

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anverxt

10 months ago

If you could find a right sensor to measure ground speed (an simple accelerometer won't cut it), you could program the colors to move around the strip with the same speed, that could be a cool effect, but needs a lot more hacking

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anverxtgravityisweak

Reply 10 months ago

I was thinking something like a mouse sensor. GPS isn't particularly precise, but then you would be able to do cool things like altitude -> color ;)

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gravityisweak

10 months ago

This is REALLY sweet! I love how you created a kit too! The sort of halo ground effect this puts onto the snow is also awesome!

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Anshu AR

10 months ago

Awesome loved it!

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The Sam D

10 months ago on Step 2

Love your project.

Where did you find the weather proof barrel connectors (gland seal)? I've been looking for a good 5 pin weather proof connector for an LED project myself!

1 reply
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seamster

10 months ago

Awesome, I'd do this but I try to avoid attention when I'm on the slopes! "Look at that fat guy with the glowing snowboard . . he fell AGAIN." ;)