So Dan asked me to make some really cool tail lights for him and gave me some freedom on design.
We ended up making a pretty sweet setup.
It is a fully animated and controllable system.
I used high quality Superflux led's for the brakes. They are independent from the other system since safety is still a main concern to me. The pattern for the brakes is a large "X". Very noticeable day or Night.
Now the fun stuff.
I designed a pcb for the main section. It is over 44 Superflux led's for brakes. 96 RGB controllable LED's PER BOARD
No pic of the turn signal boards out of the tails but they are another 80 RGB led's.
Now the really cool nerdy stuff.
The RGB led's are daisy chain communication so I can control EVERY SINGLE ONE just like a pixel on a tv. TO handle this, I developed a control board which takes the Brake, Turn, Running light inputs plus a Rotary Knob 11 position switch to decide what to do. The Brains of the operation is an Arduino Mini which is removable so I can reprogram the tails at any time later(Which Dan already wants me to do). I also left some extra slots open for adding a switch and for controlling more LED's.
The signals are opto-isolated so power surges from the brakes or something will not hurt the brain or LED's.
Not shown is the power system. I ended up going with RC 5v 7AMP BEC's because each led at full brightness will draw 60ma(20ma per Red, Green, Blue led inside the chip). A bonus to this is they are cheap and easy to replace if they ever fry.
testing the code.
The Downside to this tail light? Well, the red lens filters out ALL colors but red, so we lose the awesome effects I could have implemented. So this code is done in all red. I could easily add RGB functionality to it if the housings were clear.
and some carnage. I found out the terribly hard way that AE86 rare tail lights are made of THIN plastic. These things warped in the oven at very low temperatures. Compared to FC tails, these things were very hard to open up without damage. I ended up toasting a full set of tails, and had to use Dan's original tails for the mod.
Now some videos!!!
I designed the board to have a few "Modes".
Mode 1 is basic "legal" street car. Nothing fancy. Just lit up blinking turn signals and a perimeter running light.
Mode 2 is enhanced street mode. Sequential Arrow turn signals. Plus a perimeter around the Brake X that flashes 3 times and then goes solid for added visibility to the people behind him.
Mode 3 Snowflakes & Spiral Snake. Randomly generated pixels start at the top of the screen. They then progress downward while more random pixels are generated at the top. They make their way down and settle on top of the previous until the whole screen is full. It then resets.
The Spiral is random RGB color pixels that fill the perimeter until it hits the center, then resets.
Mode 4 is Mr Sparkle! Randomly generated pixels all over the place, The turn signals are the same but in random RGB.
mode 5 is Vertical bars and Lighting turns. Basic bars moving horizontally in the brake section. The Turns are random generated bars that fade away as new bars are generated. Kind of like a lighting strike.
Mode 6 Horizontal bars and RGB turns. Bars moving upward in brakes and Random RGB solid filled turn signals.
mode 7 Flashers. I did have the words AE86 in the brake section but some bugs in the coding slowed the program down so I removed it. The turns alternate flashing yellow.
The cool part of this setup is that I still have plenty of room for more coding. I can add like 5 more modes. Dan's next step is for me to make his front turn signals which I will add into this setup. That way his whole car has digital turn signals. This makes it so he doesn't need a flasher circuit. My controller handles the flashing pattern or what ever pattern he wants. He just needs to run his turn signal wire to my controller. Simplifying that circuit.
How much does this run????
Well.. I lost money on this build. Any one else asking for controllable LED's of this nature will expect a price starting at $1000.