Knight Rider LED lights on a car

Hey readers!

I come to you with another recently finished project of mine. Remember that old 80s TV show Knight Rider? With the Hoff? Of course you do. Ever wished you could build your own? Well here’s your chance. This one’s a little more technical than my previous posts, but doable. I got started with a Microchip PIC18F4680. I admit that this part is massively overkill for this project, but I had some laying around that I had ordered samples of. I also have a Picstart Plus that I used to program it with. I have since then bought a ICD2, but haven’t really used it yet. I used Microchip’s free IDE called MPLAB. You can download it from their website as well as the free Microchip GNU C compiler. The project I have uploaded to 😀 Inside that file, you will also find the schematic and layout of the board which I’ve made using ExpressPCB and ExpressSCH. Both are completely free to download. The company that makes that software also has a deal where it makes 3 boards for $51.

The project should be helpful even if you’re not planning on making the whole project looking at the MPLab workspace could help you learn about a couple features. For example, I use the Visual Initializer to set the compiler flags to make the PIC use the internal oscillator. You could also use the Visual Initializer to set up the timer, or the output pins. Instead I use the C function library provided by Microchip to show how to do that.

The ZIP file also contains a picture of the layout and schematic of the board. Here’s the schematic just in case:
Knight Rider mod Schematics
I use a 7805 to convert any voltage between 7V and 35V to 5V. I also have a huge capacitor on the input because automotive 12V supplies can be rather nasty. The diode is there in case you have it on while starting your car and the starter motor tries to suck charge out of the capacitor. 😛 There are decoupling caps on the PIC’s power rails. Not that they’re critical in this project, but it’s good design practice. All the LEDs go through a single resistor because only one will be on for long at one time anyway.

Well, that about covers the project. As always, feel free to leave comments or suggestions. I’d love to hear from those who have implemented this, or attempted to.

Fekete András

PS: Here’s a video of me pulling into my driveway:

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