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ELECTRONICS - [Knight Rider Light Computer]

Knight Rider Light computer

I have created a light computer that generates an effect like the scanner of the car KITT in the TV series Knight Rider. You can see a visualization of the effect in the image below:

The Knight Rider Light Effect

Schematic design with the PIC16F84A microcontroller

Many circuits on the Internet are built with a CD4017 counter IC. I myself chose to use a microcontroller for this job: the PIC16F84A. A microcontroller increases the complexity but it allows you to build a very flexible light computer. The circuit can be kept very small, this was a requirement for this circuit.

Schematic diagram of the Knight Rider lightcomputer

The circuit can be powered by a DC voltage between 7 ... 12 V. I used a 7805 regulator to create a stable 5 VDC voltage. It you want to keep the circuit very small you could use a zenerdiode for the stabilization.

The microcontroller is oscillated by an external RC oscillator. The capacitor was left away. This can be done but it decreases the stability of the frequency. The resistor has a value of 10k.

The microcontroller drives LEDs through output ports RB0 ... RB7.. During the execution of a knightrider effect there are always 2 LEDs active at a time.

I did some measurements on the circuit and the LEDs are active for a period of 0.14 seconds. To change the speed you can simply change the value of resistor R1. You could also add a capacitor between OSC1 and the GND.

Software Design

Over time I wrote two different versions of the software for this light computer.

Why should I use a microcontroller?

A question you might ask yourself is why this circuit should be made with a PIC microcontroller. You get a 555 and a 4017 counter IC for less money. With them the same effect can be achieved.

I have to admit the microcontroller is overkill for this kind of application. But one big advantage about microcontrollers is they are very flexible: the complete light effect can be changed without having to change the electronic circuit. To demonstrate this I have written the extended version of the software (see previous topic - extended version with PWM control).

I also designed a second hardware version of this circuit, with the PIC12F629. This is a DIL-8 microcontroller that uses very little place. You don't need any external parts other than LEDs and resistors.

Pictures of the circuit

the complete knight rider circuit knightrider Sample Circuit
knightrider Sample Circuit

Copyright ©1998-2022 Vanderhaegen Bart - last modified: August 24, 2013