Build Your Own Animated Turn Signals

Automotive lighting used to be strictly controlled, particularly in the United States — anyone remember sealed beam headlamps? These days, pretty much anything goes. You can even have an animated turn signal, because a simple flash isn’t fancy enough these days. You can get a scanning-LED turn signal on your new model Audi, among others. [Shravan] wanted this on their Mazda and set about building an animated turn signal and daytime running lights setup for their car.

It’s not a complicated build by any means; an off-the-shelf WS2812B strip provides the blinkums, an Arduino Nano the smarts. Using a modified library to drive the LEDs allowed [Shravan] to get things running with a minimum of fuss. We’d love to see a little more of the gritty reality of this build — how the Nano is getting directional signals from the car, and how it’s all wired up and bolted on. When you’re installing custom hardware onto a vehicle, the devil really is in the details. It’s supremely difficult to create something that looks tidy and functions well.

It’s amazing to think about how far we’ve come. When high-brightness LEDs first came on to the market in the 1990s, you would have been on the hook for wiring your own loom to connect the 20+ LEDs, building your own driver circuitry, and likely etching a custom PCB — all the while you programmed a PIC in assembly as it dangled off a parallel-port programmer. But then again, our cave-dwelling ancestors didn’t even have matches. Time marches on. Use today’s technology to build the very best things you can.

We love seeing car mods, particularly those that are well executed. Check out [Dave]’s interior lighting mods to the Nissan Juke — a car this writer has weighty opinions about. Video after the break.

79 thoughts on “Build Your Own Animated Turn Signals

  1. These regulations are falling apart. There were reasons for the strict regulations and one of those reasons was that color blind people have to see indicators as well.

    I can’t see one type of the new indicators and I had a number of near misses with people turning across a 100km/h highway. I fitted a huge bull-bar so I will be fine when the inevitable happens but I drive what you call a pickup truck. If I hit someone in a small car at 100km/h then they will be dead.

    I am not going to give up driving because people have no consideration for color blind people. 10% of the population has my vision impairment.

    Keep this in mind if you want to modify your car lights. You could end up dead because of something *you* can’t see.

      1. When the turn indicators are too close to DRLs or the standard low beam, it makes distinction difficult as it is. Any mod that doesn’t help distinquish these lights shouldn’t be visible. Then again, I have a greater issue with OEs using directional, high power LEDs for brake lights that quite literally block the rest of your vision when they engage. I can’t see a damn thing in front of me when they go on, let alone the fact that depth perception is lost…

          1. You’re not. Especially when the LEDs are not diffused and pointing right at driver’s eye level.
            Makes oncoming traffic so hard to see when passing, even at low speeds.

    1. I know that these fancy animated turn signals are only allowed when they are “stock”, according to local law here. (Dutch)

      Personally, I hate them as well. I have very good vision, but they are a distraction because they are out of the ordinary. I do not expect this movement, so I have to pay extra attention to them, which could distract me from something that else that needs my attention more.

        1. Not in this case. Standard blinkers have been used for so long that you instinctively react to them, you don’t even have to think about it, it’s just automatic. Having these “animated” blinkers makes your brain focus on them longer than necessary. I noticed this myself when I first saw them, I kept looking at them because they looked cool instead of paying more attention to the rest of traffic. Humans are still stupid animals that can be easily distracted unfortunately.

          1. But if you regard everything that looks cool as a dangerous distraction, what’s with fancy sports cars, attractive drivers in other cars and flashy billboards along the way? I guess you can’t simply rule out any potential distraction.

        2. Hazard yes, indicator no.

          Hazard = Warning warning! Pay attention to me.
          Indicator = I am going to do X.

          If you are a hazard when taking a turn you shouldn’t be on the road.

          (Blinking bicycle lights are also quite common here, and not legal, but nobody cares. They have the problem that you have to put more focus on it to estimate distance and speed. Which is quite important for bicycles here)

          1. For me the benefit of bicycle lights blinking is that you know it’s a bicycle. Similar to having a yellow flashing light to warn that a larger vehicle is slow moving.

          2. When it’s dark and all you see is a fairly dim (or at the other end retina burning bright) cycle light flashing you can’t tell at all distance or speed or worse you pay more attention to them and missing something else instead.

            I mean you know it’s a bicycle as the lights are mounted usually on the handlebars/head or the backback/underseat/wheel strut.

      1. Agreed, “ROB” sounds like a typical self-centered-make-room-for-ME! d-bag driver we see on the highways everyday. Also dimwitted – if he can’t tell a large object in front of him has/is slowing down (irrespective of any flashing lights on it), that tells me he’s a hazard to other people.

        FYI, in CONUS/USA, all vehicle lighting must meet DOT/state mandated regulations for color and placement on the vehicle. Law enforcement will gladly ticket/and in some egregious cases – impound said vehicle.

        1. Your exactly the egotistical low IQ person that I expect will be hanging off my bull bar!

          I have not had a car accident to over 50 years and in the last accident I was child sitting in the back.

          But you, on your high horse, seem so ready to put me down because of a biological condition that I cannot correct.

          FAIL! Your an asshole though and through.

          1. Is your colour blindness so bad that you can’t see a light that is flashing on one side of the vehicle but not the other?

            And what about people who don’t set indicators at all? Do you just ram them with your highly unneccessary vehicle?

          2. i dont know but that sounds like a threat to me. afterall if someone is “hanging off my bull bar!” doesn’t that mean that you hit a pedestrian? because typically other cars wont hang on to bull bars, thats just how vehicle crash dynamics work.

            You keep commenting that you have the bull bars to hit people and then calling other people assholes.. it sounds to me like you got those bull bars in order to intentionally hit people.

            If you were really concerned about your saftey, you would have gone with a full rollcage, nomex fire suit and undies, 6 pt harness and Properly rated helmet with Hans Device.

            Right now you are projecting your self as nothing more than another douche in a large truck that thinks he is safer because of the mass of the vehicle.

            I am not saying any of that is actually the case, its just how you are coming across.

            Plus weight does not make a car safer, Vehicle dynamics are incredibly complicated and include hundreds of variables (if not thousands) of which weight is one but not the end all be all of vehicle safety. Whats the rating of your truck in a roll over condition? how about an offset impact?

            If you realy wanted a discussion you could have asked questions about how the creator felt about his creations effect on the colour blind, or stated that you thought it wasnt a good idea. Instead you whine about regulations being relaxed (even though this may very well be against regulation) and you tell a story about how you added something to your vehicle that would allow you to hit other people on the road.. thats pretty douchy

          3. @[Phrewfuf]

            Quote: “Is your colour blindness so bad that you can’t see a light that is flashing”

            No, No not at all. It’s called color blindness because it’s a defect with my left tow. That was a well thought out question!

            An example: Newer indicators in some case are mounted as a strip of LEDs in the upper section of the front headlight assembly. During the day the sunlight enters the assembly and reflects back out. You see this as white at a brightness of 9 (an arbitrary figure for this scenario) but to me it’s just a brightness of 9.

            Now the LEDs flash ON but there was already so much light coming from the assembly that the brightness doesn’t change much. You see this as yellow with a brightness of 9.00001 and I see it as a brightness of 9.00001 and I am unable to distinguish between the indicator being on or off.

          4. @[Mike]

            I am not going to comment specifically too your comments because they are simply not worth a response.

            You are simply presenting a deficit model where I must be to blame because I am the one who is color blind.

            Put simply, your car has indicators, you probably uses them and the reason you probably use is to improve your safety and the safety of any passengers. That last point is completely mute if you have indicators that can’t be seen by 10% of drivers.

            You can fix your indicators and colorblind people cannot fix their sight, which means it’s *you* that is placing other road users and your passengers at an unnecessary risk because you feel that you can simply blame shift to someone else. This is beyond stubborn.

      2. Your response is fairly typical. A quick google and a link or two and all of a sudden you have *all* the answers.

        Now lets evaluate this. I have been color blind for about … well … all of my life really. I mean seriously, did you think you might catch colorblindness from that shady sexual partner in earlier life? It’s biological at birth and likely prior.

        So I am going to be quite bold here and say I might possibly, sort of, maybe, have a complete and absolute understanding of what being color blind actually entails.

        Now the next thing that distinguishes us … What do you actually know about color? Probably SFA because you have never had to understand color more than just saying – “looks orange to me”. You see (pun intended), people who aren’t color blind don’t ever bother to study color. People who *are* color blind are more or less forced to study color to deal with the world we live in.

        So now I will address your comments so hold on the the seat of your pants because you have offended me. In any case I will keep this as polite as I can.

        The glasses, yep magic they are! You put them on and they release bio-nanobots that travel into the eyes and correct the genetic problems that have been there from birth. Magic stuff really. If you seriously believe that them take one show off and inside that shoe you will find your IQ written!

        So tell how is that going to help someone who sees by contrast because they biologically can’t see color the same way?

        So now I will move further into your (apparently) personal attack on me.

        You believe that I am not “responsible” because of what? Because I have failed to take some magic pill that can correct color blindness for me and the other 10% of the population that has the same condition. That I have failed to correct my biological *deficiency* with technology that doesn’t exist today?

        Of course, if I not only fail to correct my biological birth condition and according you “place other drivers at risk” then I must have some insinuated “other” condition on the pretense of your whole post and that is … you are right by your own determination and I am wrong by your own determination.

        Now some realities that you cannot see and have never seen.

        Even here, I technology site, there is a history of inclusiveness for color blind people. The E12 and E24 color codes on resistors was made so that they are readable by color blind people by being on a contrast scale as well as a color scale.

        Have you ever wondered why traffic lights are always in the same order? Do you perhaps think it may be so that color blind people can see them to.

        So even though you are not aware of it because *you can’t see* like a color blind person, there is a very long history of us (10% of the population) being included by way of regulations which is now changing.

        And lastly, in response to, “Should 90% of people adapt to you or should you adapt to the 90% seems like a pretty obvious answer.”

        Well the answer to this is as obvious to me as it is to you! They are however different.

        Your answer is that 10% of the population shouldn’t drive anymore even though there is no legislation to enact that belief because, quite frankly, not even legislators would be so chalice as you.

        As a member of that 10%, I have a different answer, as mentioned in the last post! My answer is a bull-bar on a 1.5 tonne truck! Lets see how your (assumed) rights and chalices go against that.

        And finally, I *am* being proactive by inviting discussion about this.

        1. > You believe that I am not “responsible” because of what?

          Because you know you have a certain condition that puts you in a position where you need to care way more about traffic than basically anyone else. You need to pay attention to not only the lights that turn on but also to the behaviour of the other drivers.

          But instead you just assume that everyone’s going to be considerate of you and your condition. And you just continue driving like…well, anyone else. You even modified your car so if someone happens to have the wrong kind of indicator (which the driver can’t do shit about), he’s going to get hurt.

          You, sir, are the definition of a self-centered, egoistic ass that always puts himself in the victim role.

          1. I know I have a condition that 10% of the population (and 10% of drivers) has. I should take care!!! Tell me how long I have to focus on taking care before I feel my eyes starting to correct my vision. There is NOTHING AT ALL THAT I CAN DO ABOUT THIS except perhaps running around fixing indicators to prevent the problem.

            They’re your god damned indicators not mine *you* get off your fat ass and take some “care” yourself or suffer the consequences.

          2. @RÖB:

            > They’re your god damned indicators not mine *you* get off your fat ass and take some “care” yourself or suffer the consequences.

            Let’s put it this way: Audi installs those fancy animated indicators for quite a while now. Which you see as something bad. So far so good. But then you go on and install a bigass bull-bar on your truck, because you’re willing to hurt someone who happens to drive an Audi with those animated indicators. So essentially you’re willing to hurt someone who can’t even do anything about the issue *you* are having. The vehicle has been homologated with those animated indicators, so if the owner decides to change them, because he is aware of the problem *you* have, he is altering the vehicle which in turn makes the car lose it’s homologation. Which in turn makes the car illegal to be driven.

            And i hope you do aggree up to this point.
            So if you do: Why the fuck should the end customer suffer the consequences of something the manufacturer has done, potentially with his life?

            Because that’s what you’re saying. And that’s why you’re viewed as a massive dickhead by pretty much anyone in this articles comment section.

          3. @[Phrewfuf]

            I stopped reading your response at “a condition you have”

            There is no such thing a color blindness. It is NOT a *binary* thing. Is a bell-curve we we all fit under. About 2% of the population has perfect color vision so guess what – by your own definition your own vision is defective.

            So sure blame me, go right ahead. Now you have the rest of the 10% or road users to go. Good luck with that.

          1. Not sure if the commenter is referring to curb weight or payload capacity. Many trucks are rated by tow weight and payload capacity. My youngest brother used to drive a deuce and half… a 2.5 ton truck… Mind you, it was a 6 wheeled monstrosity that weighed in at 14000 pounds, (7 tons curb weight). The 2.5 ton rating is it’s payload rate. It can carry 2.5 tons on it’s bed. If he’s going on that measurement, then a 1.5 ton is indeed an impressive truck! If he just means a 3000 pound truck, then that seems rather small… That’s why I think he’s referring to tow capacity vs curb weight.

            BTW… My brother sold it for a 5 ton. LOL :P
            You might have guessed my brother is both a truck driver and former military!

            As for color blindness… It’s not that color blind people are self centered. They are just people. It’s just you have to get defensive when NO ONE AROUND YOU has a lick of consideration, and forces you to always be on the defensive. Just because you can’t see their disability, doesn’t make it okay for you to be a dick about it. Do you belittle people who park in handicap stalls for taking all the good spots? Do you tell them “why should we accommodate you? you’re the odd one out. You should just crawl into a corner and not take up space.” Jeez… Would you actually say that, cause THAT’S WHAT YOU ARE SAYING to this guy! Basically, deal with it or get off the road.

            You’d rather be an offensive prick, a self centered tool, who would rather dismantle established safety regulations that accommodate those with diminished color differentiation, just you you can have some flashy distracting LEDs.

        2. I am also color impaired. (mild deutan, weak red-green sort of) I can easily distinguish solid colors on say a classic rainbow (and they DO look like distinct colors, I’m not guessing like many assume), but I have trouble with shades. Just think of it like a color resolution problem… like I have 4 bit green detection where most have say 10 bit. Traffic lights are absolutely no problem, no more than for anyone else.

          When I was in China last year, I tried to get a driver’s license. In Guangzhou at least, theoretically you can’t get a license if you’re colorblind. There’s only one checkbox for “colorblind”, too… no differentiating types. So, the hospital doing the test had to check it and then they wrote in a bit around it to try to mitigate the impact. (“can see all colors”, I think it said)

          I was told that if I “shop around” at various police stations someone would probably eventually let me get a license with that result, but it may take a while.

          I ended up changing plans and leaving China. (Not because of that, but it didn’t help)

        3. The color rings on the resistors are very often (worst at 4 ring metal film on quite dark, e.g. blue background) hard to distinguish even with normal vision. I can not imagine how they could be readable with color blindness.

          1. Newer resistors abandoned the gray scale coding they had for color blind people. Older resistors were perfect and just as easy if not easier for a color blind person to read.

            Cable color coding of wires is still make for color blind people as well but they use lengths of the dashes or thickness of the stripes as shading is too hard when the background color alternates.

    2. I want to know what magical part of the world you live in because I rarely see anyone use a turn signal anywhere I travel. If they do use one, it’s only after they’ve started turning. I love all your cranky, hate fueled comments. Shit makes me laugh.

    3. Once I saw a turn signal on a very new car, which was barely visible even without being colour blind:
      Think of a very bright xenon/LED headlight and an indicator light which ran as a millimeter thin line directly below the headlight. It was flashing orange, but mostly overpowered by the bright headlight. From little distance it looked just like a subtle change in color temperature of the headlight.
      “Nice” but useless design. There should be some space between the lamps so you could clearly distinguish them by position. Even without being color blind you have less color sensitivity in the peripheral vision and I prefer to see such things easy and quick.

    4. hey, i think you need to chill.

      I am glad that you have outfitted your self with a vehicle you deem to be safe for you. but griping about silly lights because someone almost got into an accident with you that would have been entirely their fault is a bit obnoxious. after all regardless of what they are signaling or even what their actual intent is, generally people traveling on the faster road have the right of way, especially when they are not expected to stop and the people entering the roads are expected to. Colour blindness has nothing to do with that scenario. it is simply the other driver being a D-bag and putting your life in danger.

      Your not being able to see other peoples blinkers has absolutely nothing to do with road safety actually, given that in most places it is the responsibility of the driver changing his direction to do so in a safe manor. that means if you are traveling in a straight line and in your lane then as long as you don’t hit someone slowing in the same lane as you, you will never be at fault.

      Now the real questions, is with your health issues that you claim to have, can you tell when the car in front of you has applied their brakes when their brake lights? I am guessing not if you have not has an accident in the time you have been behind the wheel. so what is your real beef?

      Regulations? well i hat to break it to you or regulations have to change as technology changes. If it didn’t then we would still be using sealed beams and other things such as airbags and seat belts would not be as prevalent a safety device as it is today.

      You cant see blinkers? well FFS im glad people around you use their blinkers because around where i live you wont see one except every once in a blue moon (this is also why most laws are written in such a manor that the vehicle leaving their lane is responsible for doing so in a safe manor.

      No I think the problem you have is with other drivers in general. It has nothing to do with lights or your colour blindness even if you want to believe so. The problem is that so very few people know any of the laws governing a persons conduct on the road and that in most places aside from the first set of testing, no one is ever retested.

      Finally most of the times bull bars will do absolutely nothing in a 100km/h crash, neither will your 1.5 tonne truck. Sure it might do a little bit in a head on colision with a stationary target at 40 km/h but in any other senario of dynamic vehicle colision you have a larger chance of rolling your vehicle (especially in ofset crashes where your vehicle does not impact through the COG of the other vehicle) and trucks are generally not the greatest in roll over conditions. So your vehicle is not as safe as you would believe.

      finally to address your last statement. it doesn’t matter if you modify your lights or not, you can die from something you cant see at any point during your travels on public roads. That is why driving instructors are supposed to teach defensive driving, most probably do but over time people forget and that leads to fatalities.

      So take a chill pill and relax, you want an argument not a discussion and your posts are loaded with the type of language that would ensure so. I hope you realize that your attitude is the exact same as the people who modify their lights.

      Keep this in mind if you want to modify your car lights. You could end up dead because of something *you* can’t see.

  2. Seen those on Audis. I suspect they may be dangerous. The animation causes me to transfix on the indicator instead of what’s going on around me. Better just the on/off pattern for me.

  3. “Is that a malfunction or is that a twat with stupid indicator lights?” Is what more and more drivers will have running through their minds as more idiots bring more odd flashing lights to the roads.

    I hate the fact that here in the UK it’s perfectly legal for cyclists to have their only front & back lights flashing, At night on dimly lit and completely dark roads it’s bloody difficult to judge the distance of a cyclist who only has flashing lights on their bike.
    When I ride at night my front light is very bright and doesn’t blink, and I have two back lights; one is steady and the other is blinking, this allows drivers to see I’m a cyclist and how far away I am.

    1. Exactly!

      This is why persistence of vision gadgets like clocks work. Our eyes detect the peak light intensity rather than the average.

      We have the same ability with hearing where sound intensity is logarithmic rather than linear. This allow us to hear an exceptionally lager dynamic range of sound intensities.

      In the case of vision it allow us to have a very large rang of contrast sensitivity. The problem is that the detector – our eyes – adjust for contrast by using aperture (pupal dilation) so when we see high peek intensity flashing light our eyes cannot adjust quick enough to then return dilation so that we can see the more faint images.

      TL;DR; The flash period of these lights is faster than pupal dilatation so the peek intensity effectively blinds us so we can’t see darker objects as we would if the flashing light were not present.

      1. Do you have any references to any papers/analysis for this?
        Having had the same experience as Haku with cyclists, I’ve been trying to find something to back it up. I’ve also noticed something similar with some car brake lights which are stroked (albeit at high frequency) where they seem to ‘float’ away from the car

      2. I also noticed I sometimes see fake brake lights somewhere where there is no car at all; that is when I have a car with these PWM strobed lights in front of me and then look to the lane to the left of him for instance. I hate all these strobed rear lights for that very reason, they scare the shit out of me sometimes when I drive late at night.

        1. Same here with the strobing brake lights, it can be distracting when you’re quickly looking left/right for a gap in traffic to move into and you catch a trail of large red dots from a car’s back lights.

          Really that shouldn’t be an issue considering how much it costs to buy a new car, manufacturers should’ve fixed that from the start.

  4. I’m not sure they are legal in the UK. The laws change too fast for me to bother keeping up but for sure they are distracting for other drivers.

    I have a real problem judging distance for bicycles that have bright flashing white lights on. For sure that was illegal, I don’t know if the law has changed or if the “fund raise force” just don’t bother on the grounds that they think (<< not sure they do) that if they are on a bike they are poor.

    1. Unfortunately, at the same time as the regs updated to allow for LED lights (i.e. some years ago), they also allowed for only having flashing lights (because at the time, it was the best way to keep LEDs running all night and be bright).

      One of the parts of the regulations I can’t remember about was that, originally (pre-LED), I thought there was something about lights must be capable of lasting 8 hours (might have just been a restriction to getting the kite mark).

  5. European here, we are sadly more strictly managed, so animated turn signals would be a no no. EU states yellow between 60 and 120 HZ 50% duty cycle 25W incandescent. You could possible get away with playing with fading in and out. I’m simply using DIY amber leds which switch on and off instantly, which increases visibility. So far the same turn signal leds are in their third car. they just last forever.

    1. I hope you are allowed to use LED break lights. Incandescent lights take time to heat to visible emission, a long time! If there were only one place for LED technology in car lighting then break lights would be that place.

    2. LEDs have been in use for the 3rd brake light (which btw has been mandatory for quite some time now) for years. The main brake lights are slowly joining along with turn signals and slowly becoming more common, even here in EU.
      The only place LEDs keep loosing to traditional light sources are the headlights, but that is mostly due to technical and economical reasons, not regulatory.

    3. To sum this up as another one pointed out, only if factory installed. However I retrofitted leds everywhere except on my main headlight bulbs. I’ve tried some 25$ Chinese head LED light bulbs but they were around 12W a piece instead of the advertised 25W and only worked with Lo/HI after extensive soldering, so too dim except as DRL. Been through MOT numerous times with LEDs, never mentioned.

  6. One of the most frustrating things for color blindness must be those single LED color changing indicator lights.

    The problem with capturing (saturation) LED’s of multi color is making this example look worse.

    1. So much this… The number of times I’ve had to get my wife to peer at the single red/green debug LED on my DIY electric motorbike’s motor controller… Darned thing blinks out morse-style error codes in red or green blinks, often so short that I’m stuck wondering if I saw what I *think* I saw.

      As a general request, if you’re designing something with the single-blinking-led debug model and decide to go multi colour for higher fidelity (a good idea, really) then please pick colours part of high-contrast triples on the colour wheel – it’ll look damn cool to get a red/blue (or blue/yellow, or red/yellow, etc.) LED on your box (for example), and *everyone* will be able to read it :)

  7. Not all of those laws are falling apart. At least not in Minnesota and North Dakota. I believe the laws here still state that lights ahead of the front wheel must be amber or white and lights to the rear must be red or white. Common sense really, as this easily establishes direction of the vehicle.

    My son suffers from a color deficiency, but is not fully colorblind. To those above that are callous towards colorblind people, you really need to understand that this is not a choice for them. There is nothing that can currently be done to correct for this condition.

  8. I watched additional purple signal light below your car headlights in the video. It is enthralling and this is a good signal light. I will try this in my vehicle. Thanks for this wonderful blog and video to showcase

  9. Those animated indicators on new Audi’s are a real PITA as they are not as obvious as traditional completely on/off.

    First couple of times I encountered them I had a near miss or two and I’m not colour blind either!

  10. I don’t see how colorblindness is an issue here, flashing lights are directional/hazard lights, solid ones are side/DRL or tail/brake lights. Plenty of cars have amber DRLs and directionals in the front and plenty of cars have red tail/brake and directionals in the rear. If you can’t determine the difference between a flashing light and a solid one then you shouldn’t be driving regardless of what color they are or you perceive them to be.

    Also keep in mind that in this example these are supplementary lights and he still has stock directionals that work exactly like you’d expect. A switchback solution probably would have been more refined that way the supplementary directional wouldn’t get lost in the DRL but since it isn’t the main directional I doubt it matters.

    Also for everyone that has an issue with animated lights being more distracting because they are out of the norm, how do you handle any other aspect that is out of the norm when driving, if you are that easily distracted to the point you think it becomes unsafe to be on the road you probably shouldn’t be driving in the first place, driving is full of distractions.

  11. I’m seeing all kinds of online auction headlights on clapped-out kiddie cars these days, NONE of them legal without *federal* approval. The worst have to be the morons replacing their headlights with a “Chinesium” unit that lacks the reflector technology the OEM unit has (nothing on the optical lens either) which effectly makes a wonderful uncontrolled flood lamp for all angles to enjoy. These clowns should be caned in the town square and at least 5K in fines. Right on the packages online these things state “not for road use” or “not legal for street” use – but looking cool is apparently paramount to basic safety. So let’s slap on a charge of intent to commit as a side dish.
    These people are reproducing, folks. That’s the truly scary part.

  12. As far as colour blindness goes, does a true yellow (ie 580nm or so) LED look different from red + green together? Red and green together appear as yellow (to most people) but there’s no yellow light there, it’s a trick, a limitation of trichromatic vision.

    If it looks different, there could be trouble waiting in using RGB LEDs to produce illusory yellow, rather than real yellow.

    LED lighting in general is very different, LEDs are fairly narrow spectrum. Previously, incandescent light gave off a broad spectrum white, with filters giving whichever colour you wanted. In particular, cheap white LEDs, with a blue LED + yellow phosphor, can have crap colour reproduction. Even better ones miss out bits of the spectrum that an incandescent would provide. I can see this producing all sorts of SNAFUs in the future as incandescent dies out, and the death has been pretty sudden and widespread.

    1. There is no color, it’s all in your head! :o)

      Unfortunately that’s actually true. Color itself is a human (in this scope) perception that doesn’t actually exist. Green is NOT green to start with and nor is red or blue.

      So your question is totally dependent on the reference of observation.

      Human selection will cause the narrow bands chosen for colors of LEDs to be red, green and blue at frequencies that are most commonly recognized as red green and blue by people with normal color perception. ie the chosen frequencies will *hit* close to the average frequency sensitivities.

      Because the bands are so narrow there is far greater chance that they *miss* the frequency sensitivities that color blind people see.

      The key difference is that the yellow from LEDs is actually red+green in very narrow slots (additive color). However an incandescent bulb is (close to) white minus (everything except a wide band around yellow) or a subtractive color so it has a very wide band and therefore a far greater chance of being seen as the same color by people that have some form of color perception difference.

      So thank you [Greenaum] for adding some intelligence to this conversation. It’s a shame so much was lost with the “everyone blames color blind people” rant and I probably contributed to that – everyone has a bad day – myself included.

      Colorblindness is not a binary thing. We all fall under a bell curve of color perception.

  13. Whilst I’m here airing my grievances over the progression/evolution of lights at night there are two other areas that are steadily getting right on my wick:

    Car headlights have over the years been getting progressively brighter, making night driving unpleasant because you feel like you have to get brighter lights than the ‘other guy’ just so you can see the road when they’re coming towards you. And badly aligned lights blinding me in my rear view mirrors is unpleasant, too.

    But the latest thing I’m hating is the LED street lights that are slowly replacing traditional lights here in the UK. They’re more like spotlights than flood lights, some are positively dazzling when you’re driving up a hill because so much light is coming from such a small area and they don’t illuminate the same large area as the old lights, but lastly what absolute fucknut decided to make them cold white?? and not warm white?? Now, too often when pulling into a road or going down one which has bends I keep thinking the bright white light I see reflected on the road and/or on parked cars is another car coming towards me when in fact it’s one of those bloody LED streelights!

  14. > all the while you programmed a PIC in assembly as it dangled off a parallel-port programmer.
    > Use today’s technology to build the very best things you can.

    Are AVRs today’s technology? And is programming a sketchy sketch to a Arduino through a serial bootloader any better than programming an ASM program to a PIC by bit-banging the ISP interface?
    Using the ISP interface means you don’t have to use a pre-programmed chip. Parallel port bit-banging is slow, but you can speed up if you use another microcontroller to do it (PICkits and most programmers are nothing else than microcontrollers with some magic firmware). And using ASM means your code is faster than C++ with a thick HAL and digitalWrite()’s, at the cost of readability and learning curve.

  15. hi, old article, still fun to read! Did you do anything to the indicator relay? When power is going on and off all the time, does the Arduino boot that fast? I am looking into using a ATTINY for this, it seems these do not like to quick on off sequence that the indicator relay produces. Do you have experience with that? Thanls in advance!

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