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Lighting effects Generator

by Gordon McComb & Eral Boysen



If you were a fan of the Knight Rider television series that aired back in the ’80s, you remember the sequential light chaser that the Kitt Car sported. You

can easily build your own (light chaser setup, not car) in the garage in under an hour. To build your own mesmerizing lighting effects generator (see the schematic

for it in Figure 14-13), you need just two low-priced integrated circuits and a handful of inexpensive parts.


The circuit has two sections: The brains: An LM555 timer IC makes up the first section, on the left of the schematic. You wire this chip to function as an astable multivibrator (in fact, you make the same basic circuit as the LED flasher that we describe in the section “Creating Cool, Crazy, Blinky Lights” earlier in this chapter). The 555 produces a series of pulses; you determine the speed of the pulses by dialing potentiometer R1. The body: The second section, on the left of the schematic, contains a 4017 CMOS Decade Counter chip. The 4017 chip switches each of 10 LEDs on, in succession. The LEDs are switched when the 4017 receives a pulse from the 555. You wire the 4017 so that it repeats the 1-to-10 sequence over and over again, for as long as the circuit has power.




Arranging the LEDs You can build the lighting effects generator on a solderless breadboard just to try it out. If you plan to make it into a permanent circuit, give some thought to the arrangement of the ten LEDs. For example, to achieve different lighting effects, you can try the following: Put all the LEDs in a row, in sequence: The lights chase each other up (or down) over and over again. Put all the LEDs in a row, but alternate the sequence left and right: Wire the LEDs so that the sequence starts from the outside and works its way inside. Place the LEDs in a circle so that the LEDs sequence clockwise or counterclockwise: This light pattern looks like a roulette wheel. Arrange the LEDs in a heart shape: You can use this arrangement to make a unique Valentine’s Day present.



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