Updated: October 12, 2005





Programming Software !

Testing & Operation


Note: All pictures that follow are "clickable".  Clicking on them will show you an enlargement!
Be sure to also check out the new "MINI-FLASH" Programmable LED Flasher/Sequencer !

A lil' history ...
    A while back when I was messing with Parallax Basic Stamps (i.e. programmable microcontrollers), I often tinkered with the having microcontrollers perform simple and mundane tasks such as having them flash lights (i.e. LEDs)  in certain sequences.  My dad had many R/C boats and often thought about outfitting one with a realistic, scale-like lighting system.  One boat in particular is a 4-1/2 foot long Saito Destroyer called the "DDK 16 Minegumo".  This scale looking destroyer, with all it's immaculate exterior detail, is actually powered by a real scale Saito Steam Engine.  Included is a custom propane burner, boiler, twin pistons and a gear drive reduction that powers two 2" diameter brass screws.  As with almost all steam engines, this one also has a small steam whistle!  This was one of many steam-powered boats my dad had built years ago and when he decided to sell them a few years back, this one in particular had to stay in the family, hence, I now own it!    Now all I had to do is design a slick lighting system for it.

This project, called "Pro-Flash", is a programmable LED Sequencer/Flasher that is based around the PICAXE 18X microcontroller.  This neat controller is programmable in a BASIC-like language very similar to the "Basic Stamp" manufactured by Parallax Inc.  The 18 pin PICAXE 18X  provides 8 outputs and 5 inputs (3 of the inputs have analogue capabilities).  This project also includes the ability to reprogram the LED sequencer using a PC-based (i.e. Windows) program that includes a unique and intuitive Graphical User Interface.  This program also allows the user to "test" the LED sequence they develop by use of software-based graphical representations of the 8 LED channels.  The sequence speed can also be programmed by the user.  Each sequence contains 100 events and each of the 8 LED channels can be either ON or OFF for every events.  If the user wants to develop a sequence with fewer events, this can also easily be programmed.  As if these are not enough features, the "Pro-Flash" also includes a control for each of the 8 channels that allows the user to use an R/C servo output (from a R/C receiver) as a "switch" control.  This feature allows the user to control (active or inactive) each of the 8 channels in regards to the position of the servo control input.  If the user uses a stick/slider as the servo input, the user will be able to define one of 16 "Zone" settings for each LED channel.  These zones are based upon the servo position, that consisting of 4 unique "Zones".  The zones are 0->1/4, 1/4->1/2, 1/2->3/4, and 3/4 ->Full (with full being the full deflection of the switch/slider).  But how do you get to choose 1 of 16 zones?  Well, you are also allowed to select one of the 16 possible "binary" combinations of these zones.  For instance, you could program a LED channel to be active only when the stick is in the first zone (0->1/4) OR in the forth zone (3/4->Full).  This binary interpretation would be "1001".  All 16 zone combinations are available to the user.  The servo pulse position determines the binary "mask" applied to each LED's sequence set by the user.  A mask of "*-*-" (as selected in the programming software) would mean the sequence would only be active when the servo is in zone 1 (0->1/4) or in zone 3 (1/2->3/4).  As another last example, a mask of "***-" would mean the LED sequence would be active for zones 1 thru 3, except for zone 4 (3/4->Full).  If the servo output used for the control is a toggle switch instead of a variable slider/joystick, you would then obviously have only two zones (on or off, or, 0->1/4 and 3/4->Full).

..more coming soon


This PC design allows the user to even program the PICAXE PIC (small DIP switch selects either LED Sequence Download or PIC download).  This design is an 8-channel LED flasher/sequencer and has 16 outputs (2 each channel, side-by-side).  This is more of a development system for someone looking to write their own Picaxe LED sequencer code.


Below is a smaller version I made for a buddy of mine that use to use a Curtek system.  This has 4 LED channels (other 4 can be soldered onto board after removing heat shrink but does not have output transistors).  For each of the four channels, there are two connectors (side by each), for a total of 8 LEDs which can be connected.

This one shown below uses smaller, lighter .1" pitch pin header connectors.



FULL 8-CHANNEL - PRO-FLASH !!  (Final Version !)

Below is yet another version just completed and tested.  This final model includes 8 separate output transistors for each of the 8 LED channels.  Although a little bigger (1" x 1.7"), the weight increase is minimal (+1 gram).  This model also uses ultra-light machine pin header connectors shown in a few pictures below.  This will most likely be the final production version due to its ultimate versatility.  Also included by request are a few pictures of the completed LEDs with connectors.  Unlike other navigation LED systems, these LED connectors allow you to swap/replace LEDs, that being upgrading to brighter LEDS or simply changing colors.  This design also allows for easier installations.  These LED leads are fabricated from 30+ gauge enamel-coated magnet wire I had lying around (twists per inch is around 8-10).  Completed LEDs weigh roughly over a 1 gram each, due to the light wire and light machine pin headers used.

*Note 1: The SMD version is in the works!,... well, at least the PCB.  I will build a couple once I can get my hands on a few SMD-version Picaxes! ...  :)
Any one in the UK willing to snail-mail me a few for a few stipends?    Email me!

**Note 2:  Unlike the original 8-channnel prototype version shown above, this version does not allow for the PIC to be reprogrammed since it has no input switch as in the original prototype.  Defeating this feature made the board a bit easier to route and in fact, a bit smaller and lighter.



Some LED Calculator Links:

http://linear1.org/ckts/led.php (simple LED resistor calculator)

http://led.linear1.org/led.wiz (another LED calculator for multiple LED in series or parallel)

http://www.besthongkong.com/clrc.htm (a neat calculator hosted by a big LED distributor in Hong Kong)


Some Interesting Visual Basic coding information (Picaxe to/from PC serial port)

http://www.rentron.com/VisualBasic.htm (Reynolds Electronics)


Design Criteria Summary:

1) ...more coming soon


Parts & Tools List ...

1) ...more coming soon

Building Instructions...

...more coming soon


Programming Software...

Pre-programmed Picaxe chips will be made available shortly....
Please email with any interests!

SOFTWARE !!! (beta2)

*** CLICK HERE ***

Screen shots of the Pro-Flash programming software.... pretty slick !
Main Screen
File Menu Screen
Setup Screen
 Download Screen
 Comm Error Screen
 LED Channel Menu
 LED Channel Copy Menu
 Testing Screen
 LED Color Selection Menu
 LED Servo Command Menu
 About Menu
 Help/About Screen
 Help/How-to Screen
Exit Screen





















Testing and Operation Instructions...

1. TBD

2. TBD

Additional Notes...

Please email me regarding product availability before sending money....

Click Here to visit the


"PICAXE is a trademark of Revolution Education Ltd (www.picaxe.co.uk)"


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