Lights for cheap with Arduino

Hello folks,

just recently I have finished my lights setup, so I thought I could share how I did that.

RC Honda NSX 2016 with LED lights
This solution gives you almost infinite controll over your lights for almost zero price. Only thing you will need is some basic welding and coding skills.

Arduino Nano board from ebay
Our lights control unit is a 2 bucks Arduino Nano clone from ebay. It is easy to program and it has USB connector, so you can just plug it to your PC and have fun!

LEDs attached to my headlight
First things first, obviously you will need to attach some LEDs, wherever you desire. Here I have used a glue gun. Not so pretty solution, but it is quick and strong and I don't care about inside of the body anyway.

Secret tip: on ebay you can get a pack of LEDs for a ridiculously low price, which will probably last you for the rest of your life.


Arduino Nano connection
Secondly, connect the LEDs to the Arduino! As simple as that! I am using glue gun also for attaching the wires to the inside of the body.

LEDs and Arduino Nano example connection scheme
Here is an example scheme of the connection. No need to use any resistors, I will explain why.


Arduino IDE download
When you are done with the wiring, prepare to light the things up! Download and install the Arduino IDE.

Arduino IDE example code for LED lights
Start the Arduino editor and put this code. Connect your Arduino via USB cable.

Arduino board settings
Set the editor like this, load the program into your board and see the LIGHT!!!

Behind the code

If you have noticed, there is a magical formula named "PWM" in the comments of our code. This is also the reason we are not using any resistors, which would normally be necessary.

I am not going to explain this further (you can google 100 times better sources on this in 5 seconds), but for our purpose, you can think of it as a brightness switch for our LEDs.

Basically what it does, is, that it blinks your LEDs so fast, you brain sees them shine. The ratio of time when the LEDs are on to the time they are off is how much they shine. So for your eyes, the output is the same, as you would get from variable resistor.

The command analogWrite(5,20); means, we are using Arduino's digital pin 5 and we are setting the brightness to 20 out of 255 (which in my case is just enough not burn the watchers eyes).
For this command you can use D5, D6, D9, D10 and D11 pin.

Just do not set the brightness too high for too much time, as without resistors you would burn your LEDs.

Programming options


If you are familiar with basics of coding, you have infinite options of programming your LED lights. You can flash your lights in any cycle you can think of.

With a little further knowledge you can even use your spare radio channel to control the lights. You can use a simple button, you can use any of the Arduino complementary modules.
You can even plug your arduino between your receiver and ESC to create a backfire effect for your exhaust!

The options are infinite, so go and research them if you can - I know I will!!!

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