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For my college course we currently have to carry out a project of our own choice. I chose to make a Tail light system, with strobing indicators, fog-light and brake-light.

The lighting uses Neopixel strips and rings, with the indicator sections consisting of 2 neopixel strip 6 (in parallel); the fog light using a neopixel jewel; and the brake light using a neopixel ring 16.

The indicators need to strobe outward from the centre of the device (in the desired direction, left/right) based on a button input. The fog-light should turn on when the device is activated by switch, and the brake-light will turn on when receiving an input from another button.

I've only ever coded using Python during GCSE and can't wrap my head around Arduino code. Currently using tinkercad for creating this as I don't have any arduino kit, and don't want to spend out the money on unneeded components.

Any help is appreciated, and if a link to the tinkercad circuit would be useful let me know.

  • If you want to program your project in Python you should add the Python tag to your question. – Duncan C May 6 at 12:17
  • I don't want to code in python, just stating what prior coding knowledge I have. I know python is probably not the best coding tool for this. – Tay Swain May 17 at 20:39
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Break down your project into steps, both hardware and software, and tackle a step at a time.

First do a block diagram of the system, showing the different components, the layout of the control buttons, etc.

Then map out the desired behavior, perhaps using a flowchart. What should it do when you first turn it on? How will it respond to different button inputs? Will it continue to flash in the current pattern indefinitely until there's another input? Will there be a cancel button?

Then read up on how to power and control NeoPixel LEDs. I believe they use I2C? Are there any NeoPixel libraries you can use?

You might then try using a circuit simulator to create a virtual prototype of your circuit. Figure out how big a battery & voltage regulator you're going to need. (If you're running off of batteries you should use a switching or "buck" type voltage regulator rather than a linear voltage regulator since they are much more efficient. Just make sure you pick a regulator that can provide enough current for all your LEDs plus your Arduino, with a little extra left over.))

Once you get a virtual circuit working, it's time to use real hardware.

For a bike tail-light, you should think about how to make it weather-proof. are there waterproof enclosures you can use? What about waterproof NeoPixels? If there are no waterproof NeoPixels, what about waterproof enclosures with clear covers?

Buy the Arduino you're going to use, and at least a few of your NeoPixels. Work out how to control and flash a single LED. Then gradually add complexity to your project until you get it working.

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