Overview

LED Riser Pads for Skateboards / Longboards

In this project, we'll 3D print a custom skate truck riser pad and embed NeoPixel LEDs to make headlights! The best part is they're bluetooth connected, so you can change the colors, brightness and even trigger animations all through your smart phone.

Prerequisite Guides

If your new to electronics and the Adafruit Feather Bluefruit, I suggest you walk through the following guides to get basics of wiring and soldering. The Adafruit Feather Bluefruit guide will walk you through setting up Arduino IDE and bluefruit libraries. 

Truck Riser Pads

Truck risers are commonly used on longboards. These provide extra elevation and prevents wheel bite. They're also great for sliding, as they lower a riders center of gravity.

From Wikipedia

Riser pads increase the distance between the wheels on a longboard and the deck in order to prevent wheel bite (when the deck scrapes the wheels, causing the wheels to stop turning). They also reduce the strain on the deck from the trucks being directly in contact with it and the vibration caused through riding. Riser pads are normally made of plastic. Shock pads, which are more rubbery than riser pads, serve the same function only with more emphasis on reducing strain and less on increasing the distance between the wheels and deck. Riser pads also come angled which can make the board turn more or less. Angled risers are usually used by LDP's(Long Distance Pumper) to help aid the rider in pumping (propelling the board with turns)

Integrated NeoPixel LEDs

You can actually get truck risers with built-in LEDs from online retailers. However, they're pretty basic LEDs and come in single colors. The ones I've seen use coin cell batteries and don't offer much functionality. This project uses NeoPixel LEDs which can be programmed to be any color and can even display animations. Combined with an Adafruit Feather Bluefruit, you can change the colors and brightness on the fly using the Adafruit Bluefruit Connect app for iOS/Android

3D Printing

I designed a truck riser pad into an enclosure that houses the electronics using machine screws to minimize vibrations. The part features mounting holes for modern skate trucks.

  • 5.5mm size mounting holes
  • 63.5mm x 41.27mm distance between holes.

The 3D printed parts are printed in strong and durable material like abs, petg, nylon and polycarbonate. The cover and pads can be printed in flexible filament like semiflex ninjaflex (TPU 98A) that will reduce strain and absorb vibrations.

Electronics

For this project, we're using the Adafruit Feather Bluefruit which is an Arduino compatible that has a bluetooth module. It also has built-in USB power charging circuit. A 500mAh lipo battery for power and an on/off switch. For the headlights, we're using an high-density Adafruit 8x NeoPixel LED stick.

1 x Adafruit Feather nRF52 Bluefruit LE - nRF52832
Bluetooth connected microcontroller
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1 x NeoPixel Stick
8 x 5050 RGB LED with Integrated Drivers
1 x 500mAh Battery
Lithium Ion Polymer Battery - 3.7v 500mAh
1 x Slide Switch
Breadboard-friendly SPDT Slide Switch

Tools & Supplies

To put together the electronics, we just need a few tools like a soldering iron and some wire cutters. But using a panavise and helping third just makes things easier. I like using silicone covered wires but you can use whatever you have on hand.

1 x Panavise Jr.
Helps hold onto components while soldering
1 x Solder Iron
Heat pen used for melting solder wire
1 x Helping Third Hand
Helps hold onto wires while soldering
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1 x 30AWG Wire
Silicone cover stranded wire
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1 x Flush Cutters
Hakko Precision Flat Pliers
1 x Wire Strippers
Hakko Professsional Quality 20-30 AWG Wire Strippers

Hardware Screws

We'll need some machine screws to secure the components to the 3D printed part. This helps minimize vibrations caused from riding. We'll also need to replace the stock hardware for mounting the skate trucks to the board.

Authors Notes:

There's almost no vibrations because all of the components are secured with screws. The battery is set in place using mounting tack, so it works great for absorbing vibrations. There's access to the USB port to reprogram the Adafruit Feather and recharge the battery. It's not water proof so just have to avoid large puddles and rain. The riser pads can be printed in ABS material for a strong and durable part.

Last updated on 2017-05-29 at 04.19.44 PM Published on 2017-05-17 at 09.02.47 AM