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The Hackster Glowboard is a skateboard that Adam produced, featuring a tiny, vaguely anime me... with Archimedes... aboard a mechatronic rhino. I love it.
With a name like that, this thing needs to be lit up! I decided to update the non-addressable light system on my original skateboard, and go all-out with some sweet animated ground-effect lights. Not only is the board a super smooth ride, but it's a great attention-getter when you're one in a million booths at a tech conf. :)The build
The Adafruit tutorial for running NeoPixels on the Micro:Bit says to be careful of overloading the board, so I kept the lights to 20 pixels total: 2 strips of 6 in the front, and 2 strips of 4 over the back wheels.
Another power consideration: I should really add a couple of resistors and a capacitor to prevent power spikes to the NeoPixels when the board turns on. Adafruit's NeoPixel Überguide has more info.
I adapted this 3D-printed mount for the Micro:bit (since I had a spare on hand), clipping it down so that it would sit flat on the board's surface. (Here's the original model by BuBizgb on Thingiverse.) After soldering everything together, I plastered it in place with hot glue.
The Micro:bit sits close to one of the trucks, to protect it a bit during transport and use. Since it's such a tight fit, I use a right-angle Micro USB cable to plug it in without straining the USB connector.
A LiPo battery is tucked behind the micro:bit on its stand and zip-tied in place; I put a switch in the battery's power line, too, so that I can turn the lights on and off easily without unplugging the battery completely. * Note: It looks like powering the Micro:bit off anything more than 3 volts may reduce its lifespan. In the future, I'll add a converter to drop the 3.7V LiPo down to 3V. Here's the example I'd follow.
If you opt for rechargeables, note that in order to charge the LiPo, you need to turn the switch "on". I might connect the switch's second contact to the battery but through a diode, so that pushing the switch that way allows the battery to charge without powering the Micro:bit.
I connected the LEDs with red, blue, and yellow wires in a way that would complement the existing design, curving around the artwork and held in place with hot glue.
To control the lights, I followed this Adafruit tutorial on setting up the NeoPixels with the Micro:bit. I modified it slightly so that the lights are mostly white, with a blue spot "chasing" the strips around the board. There are two separate sets of NeoPixel strips, each connected to a different contact of the Micro:bit, so they aren't in sync (due to the different strip lengths) – but it still looks cool!
You can copy and edit the code here:
Next up, I'd like to add an animation on the Micro:bit's own 5x5 pixel matrix, so that it has something to say when used as booth bling at events. :)
For more sweet skateboard light-hacking, see this video from back in March (ft. our intern Ben):