The article discusses the construction of six best LED chaser circuits, which not only create beautiful running light effect but are also easy to build.
We also discuss how to modify these into a design popularly known as "knight rider" chaser circuit.
These primarily incorporate LEDs as well as mains operated bulbs through triacs. The proposed circuit is transformerless and is thus a lot compact and light weight.
What is a Light Chaser
Light chasers are decorative lights or LEDs arranged in different moving patterns which create a chasing light or running light kind of effect. These look very interesting and are surely eye catching and that’s why these types of lighting arrangement have gained immense popularity in today’s world.
Though the more complex lighting might need the incorporation of microcontroller ICs, simpler yet very interesting light effects can be generated through ordinary ICs like IC 4017 and IC 555 as shown below. This design requires very few components for the configuration.
- For learning the pinouts and datasheet of the IC 4017 please refer to this article
- For a detailed explanation regarding IC 555 astable, you can click on this article
As can be seen in this configuration, in response to the pulses from IC555, the IC 4017 generates a running or chasing light pattern across the connected 10 output LEDs. The chasing pattern goes on repeating itself from start to finish as long as the IC 555 keeps pulsing pin #14 of the IC 4017.
The lights connected are mostly LEDs, however it can be modified for using with mains operated lamps also.
Although the above design looks great, it is possible to create even more complex and interesting light effects using the same IC 4017 and IC 555 combination, through some minor modifications, as described below:
The first concept presented here is basically a running light effect generator circuit, quite resembling the effect produced over the popular "knight rider" car.
The circuit mainly comprises of IC 555 and the IC 4017 for implementing the required functions. The IC 555 is used to generate the clock pulses which is fed to the clock input of the IC 4017.
These clock pulses received from the IC555 is translated into a sequencing or chasing effect over the LEDs connected across the various outputs of the IC 4017.
In its normal mode the IC 4017 would have generated a simple start to end sequencing of the LEDs wherein the LEDs would have lit up and shut off one after the other in a sequencing pattern with a rate determined by the IC555 cock frequency, this would repeat continuously as long as the unit stays powered.
However in the proposed knight rider LED light chaser circuit, the output of the IC4017 is configured in a special way using a group of diodes which enable the output sequencing to produce a to and fro chasing of the connected LEDs, albiet through 6 LEDs only in contrast to 10 LEDs as in the normal mode.
How it Works
As can be seen in the first circuit diagram, the design produces a reverse forward moving effect of the LEDs in response to the clocks generated by the IC555 which is basically wired as an astable.
The frequency of this astable can be varied by adjusting the associated 500k pot which in turn influences the LED sequencing speed.
The entire circuit is powered via a compact transformerless power supply circuit thus avoiding the need of bulky transformers or costly SMPS.
This circuit can be also modified for illuminating mains operated bulbs by incorporating a few triacs in conjunction with the LEDs present at the outputs.
The second figure shows the complete arrangement where we can see 6 triacs being rigged across the output LED ends via 1 K resistors.
Again, this mains operated knight rider light chaser does not depend on bulky power supply stages rather employs a simple capacitive power supply for implementing the proposed running light or chasing LeD effect.
WARNING: THE CIRCUIT IS NOT ISOLATED FROM MAINS AC SUPPLY, THEREFORE IS EXTREMELY DANGEROUS TO TOUCH IN POWERED AND UNCOVERED CONDITION.
Knight Rider Circuit using 220V Mains Lamps
Knight Rider Chaser using 12V Bulbs
The above circuit can be also as effectively used for car installation by doing the following modifications to the above circuit. The circuit shows how the design can be used for illuminating 12V car automotive lamps.
2) Knight Rider LED Scanner Circuit Mustang Type
In next idea is also knight rider chaser circuit which produces a LED scanner type illusion through the various sequencing illumination modes over the attached LED arrays. The idea was requested by Mr. Danely Sooknanan.
Hi, I need your help.i want to build the new Knight rider mustang light for my car scoop.What i have read is. It's made up out of 480 distinct LEDs, arranged in three rows of 80 in each row, then divided up into two sides.
My question is how you build it. The size i want to work with is 12 inches in length by 1/2 inch in width. How many rows of leds will i get by that dimension. What kind of led to use ?What can i use for the diffuser case? What to use for the control box.
In the actual knight rider LED scanner unit as shown in the video, there are as many as 29 number of functions to be precise, implementing those is virtually impossible using discrete components and without employing MCUs, however here we'll see how a few of these could be possibly made using just a handful of components.The main two functions of the proposed Mustang LED scanner circuit may be assessed as given in the following description:
1) LEDs light up in a bar mode fashion from the two ends of the strip and meet up at the center, illuminating the whole module brightly.
In the next sequence the LEDs begin shutting off in the same sequence as above from the outer extreme ends until all the LEDs are switched OFF.
The rate or the speed of the above procedures are adjustable through a pot as per individual preferences.
2) The second scanning sequence is similar to the above, except the shutting off procedure which is done for all the LEDs at once instead of one at a time.
The above two functions can be easily implemented using a couple of 74LS164 ICs and a 555 IC oscillator as shown in the following circuit diagram:
Using IC 74LS164 as the Controller
In the shown mustang scanner LED light circuit, a couple of 8-bit parallel-out shift register ICs 74LS164 are employed, driven by the IC555 configured as the clock oscillator.
The circuit may be understood by considering the following two modes in the design:
As may be seen in the above circuit diagram, a 3 pole, 9 throw switch is used as the changeover switch for imitating the 2 functions explained in the previous section above.
In mode1 S1 is connected as shown in the circuit diagram, in this position the LEDs illuminate in an sequencing LED bar like fashion with every rising edge of the clocks from the IC555 until all the LED light up and the final "high" reaches pin16, when T1 momentarily resets both the ICs producing in instant shutting off of all the LEDs at once.In the actual prototype the LEDs from Q9----Q16 must be arranged such that Q16 faces Q8, while Q9 faces the outer end of the relevant strip.
As soon as the above happens, a new cycle initiates afresh and the cycle repeats for so long as the S1 position isn't changed.
In mode 2 let's consider the switch S1 connected with the positive supply, thus S1a gets connected with the +5V line, S1b gets hooked up with the collector of T1 while S1c with R5.Also the reset pin9 of IC1 and IC2 get connected with the collector of T1 whose base can be seen configured with the last output Q16 of IC2.
On power switch ON, the LEDs begin illuminating in a BAR like mode as before from Q1 to Q8 and from Q9 towards Q16 in response to each clock pulses supplied by the astable IC 555 at pin8 of the two 74LS164 ICs.Now as soon as the high across the shifting outputs reach pin 16, T1 instantly inverts and renders a low to the serial pins1,2 of the ICs so that now the LEDs begin shutting off one by one across the arrays in the same sequence as it illuminated in response to every clock from IC555.
The LED Sequence Keeps Recycling
The procedure keeps repeating as long the switch S1 position is not changed from its existing position.The above two functions are pretty easily implemented and we have our LEDs scan the whole array quite in the manner the actual Mustang scanner is supposed to do, however with the above two functions the features look much limited and we would want to insert a few more of the features as may be witnessed in the original video.
I'll keep the article updated with the new added features, but in the meantime let's learn how the LEDs could configured to the above scanner design as per the request made by Mr. Dannel.For ease of calculation and configuration we incorporate 32 + 32 LEDs on each left and right strips.
The arrangement and the connection details may be verified through the following diagram:
Enabling Rapid Up/Down Sequence
Another interesting scanner function that could be easily added to the above circuit with a feature producing rapid to and fro sequencing over the two strips in groups of four.
This could be easily done by toggling an arrangement wherein T1 would freeze once all the LEDs switch ON in bar like style.
Now in this position a 4017 with its own oscillator would come into the scene with its outputs switching OFF the lit LEDs rapidly in a reverse forward manner. The switching could be done using BJTs which would ground the relevant anodes of the LEDs in the process.
So now we have three interesting scanning sequences toggled in our very own homemade mustang LED scanner circuit, any more possible solutions are welcome from the readers.
Cascaded 16 Strip LED Sequential Switch ON Lights using 74LS164
The following figure show how a 16 LED strips or power LEDs can be illuminated using a 2 cascaded 74LS164 ICs, and by using IC 555 as the driver oscilltor.
The diagram was contributed by Mr. Norman Kelly:
3) LED Chaser Circuit with Slow Adjustable Fading Effect
The third circuit below discusses a cool chasing LED light circuit that features a timed delay fading slow transition effect across the whole illuminated sequencing LEDs. The idea was requested by Mr. Tamam
I want to design a circuit consisting equal no. of Red, Green, Blue, Yellow, Violet, Orange and White LEDs. I want to have these LEDs in a continuous and smooth transition effect like
At first, Red branch of LEDs lit for a preset time then slowly fade out and then Green branch of LEDs fade in and fade out then next branch fade in and so on.....
I would like to have control on transition time delay, light timing, fade in or out timing if possible. And I don't want to use any Programmable IC for this. So please please let me know if it possible without any programmable IC. It is okay even if I need several ICs to accomplish the job. You just show me the way !!
Thank you very much once again for your valuable time and for a quick reply! I am looking forward to you response!!
ABU TOHA MOHAMMAD TAMAM
The proposed chasing, fading LEd light circuit may be understood with the help of the above schematic and the following description:
The upper circuit is a standard LED chaser design comprising of a decade counter IC 4017 and a clock oscillator using IC 555 astable configuration.
This IC 4017 generates a sequencing high logic (equal to supply voltage) across its entire output pins in response to the clocks at its pin14 from the IC 555.
If we connect LED directly across the 4017 outputs and ground, the LEDs would illuminate in a dot mode fashion from the first pinout upto the last in a sequencing pattern resembling a chasing effect.
This effect is pretty ordinary and we all probably have come across and built such light chasers circuits quite often.
However as per the request the effect needs to be enhanced by adding a slow transition over the LED illumination as it sequences across the entire channel. This fading transition on the sequencing LEds is expected to generate an interesting group LED chasing effect instead of an illuminated dot like appearance.
The above intriguing show could be easily implemented by connecting the LEDs to an intermediate BJT delay generator circuit.
This BJT circuit becomes responsible of generating the intended transition delay over the LED illumination and can be witnessed in the lower design.
This stage needs to be repeated across all the selected outputs of the 4017 outputs for achieving the desired chasing, fading slow transition over the LEDs.
As requested the rate of the above fading slow transition could be controlled by adjusting the given pot.
The circuit is basically a simple delay timer which sustains the illumination on the sequencing LEDs for a few moments depending upon the set value of the pot. The stored charge on the capacitor produces this timed delay effect on the LEDs which could be predetermined as per ones own choice.
The speed of the sequencing could be also altered by tweaking the 555 IC 100k pot as per individual choice which this could in turn interfere with the delay transition effect and thus is a matter of some trial and error until the most attractive set up is determined.
For Improved Fading effect
For an improved fading response the LED could be connected across the emitter and ground of the circuit, as indicated the below given diagram:
4) 18 LED Light Chaser Circuit Using Two IC 4017
The next fourth design explains how to build an 18 LED chaser circuit through a simple cascading of two 4017 ICs, and some passive electronic components.
Here we are discussing how to make a simple LED running light which can be built by any newcomer in the field albeit the individual has some knowledge of soldering and regarding the commonly used electronic components.
The concept of a light chaser discussed here utilizes the popular Johnson’s decade counter IC 4017 for getting the desired light chasing effect. IC 4049 is used as the Oscillator
Another IC 4049 provides the clock signals to the counter ICs. We all have probably seen how the IC 4017 can be configured for creating the light chasing effect using LEDs, however the number of maximum LEDs supported by this IC is not more than ten. In this article we’ll learn how to make an eighteen LED light
chaser by cascading two of these ICs.
Cascading two IC 4017 Johnsons Counter for the 18 LED Effect
Looking at the above light chaser circuit diagram we see how the two ICs are configured so that the “chasing” or "running"of the LEDs at its outputs are carried on for 18 LEDs. The diodes included in the circuit especially are responsible for switching the ICs into a cascading action.
The diodes make sure the IC outputs are carried forward from one IC to another, so that the “chasing” effect is pulled for the entire 18 LEDs in the array.
The whole circuit can be built over a general purpose PCB, and connected together by soldering with the help of the shown diagram.
The circuit can be operated in between 6 volts to 12 volts.
HAVE FURTHER DOUBTS? PLEASE FEEL FREE TO COMMENT!
R1, R3, R4 = 2k7,
R5 = 100k,
C1 = 10 uF/25V,
N1, N2, N3, N4, N5, N6 = IC 4049,
IC1,2 = 4017,
All diodes are = 1N4148,
PCB = General purpose
LED = as per choice.
The above 18 LED cascaded chaser circuit can be also conveniently built using a 555 astable circuit, as shown below:
Video Clip of the above circuit in operational mode:
5) "Predator" Type LED Light Chaser Circuit
The next car tail circuit was requested by Mr. Danley Sooknanan, it's regarding the designing of a customized car tail light consisting of "running" or chasing LEDs arranged in Yautja language, as viewed in the movie "Predator", over the wrist of the "Alien" being. Let's learn more.....
I want to try the above chasing tail lights in my car .
But I want to add something to the design I need your help. The turn indicator i want to make it as a predator count down timer.
Let me explain the design in the predator count down timer their is a bunch of sequential lighting. Now what i want to do is have the indicator led move from one point to the other with the predator pattern of the the count down timer.
I would be grateful if you can help me .The other project I am thinking about is a Audio Spectrum Analyzer how i want to do this is place it on the led on the grille .
When the music plays the led moves upwards and downwards when the different frequency is played
Can you help me with the diagram n listing of the parts I need. It is been for years I have wanted to do this project but I dont know who to ask for the help on the circuit design .
Now i am greatful for the effort n time u help others with .
Thanks a million....
before i forget the predator turn signal the sequential count down mus be a little faster than the video i send you move from one point to the other then all the led will flash n light and the the sequential count down starts again
Please provide me with the exact pattern of the LEDs in lit position for the different sequences. you may send me the drawing of it so that I can understand how the LEDs should be laid down.
Once again Thanks for the reply . I am really excited of this project .Looking foward to your reply.
I think I have understood your requirement, the sequence will keep only one block illuminated at a time while sequencing.
After the five sequences are over, all the blocks with the relevant patterns will illuminate together and flash.
I hope this is what is required by you.2 by 13 inches will be enough for the design, however the display will not be understandable from a certain distance may be from 30 feet away.
I'll inform you when it's posted.
Good point " the display will not be understandable from a certain distance may be from 30 feet away."
U know i was thinking about that before i read the email.Here is what we can do to tweak this. After the five sequences are over the chasing
light patterns comes on the indicator. then the five sequence.............
With this tweak the driver behind can see that the indicator is on .
Thanks a million looking foward to the post .
Here is the mazda 323 tail light .
I tried my hand on a photo editing software
Now this is the concept .In the above After the five sequences are over the chasing light pattern starts then the five sequence ...................
I would have have showed u each of the sequence predator pattern photo but that would take five more pics to do that .I think u understand the concept
If the LED PCB is put over the indicator area, it will block the actual bulb indicator lights of the car because the PCB will be opaque by nature.
How the Sequencing Needs to be Like
About the sequencing: when the blocks light up one by one (the previous block shutting-of as the sequence proceeds), the various lines (signs) present on each block will not make any action, the illuminated pattern will remain fixed on each block as the sequence proceeds....is it that way???
I googled n got information about retro fitting the taillight .My tail light has bulbs.The idea is to convert the whole tail light to led (LED PCB)
Now this project is all new to me I just have the ideas.What i want to do I want the chasing light feature as your diagram
Now all we are tweaking is the indicator .The indicator part will be converted to the LED PCB
Now this is the concept .In the above After the five sequences are over the chasing light pattern starts then the five sequence pattern...................
I just have ideas what do u think is the best way to display this on the tail light
The predator countdown has an awesome display.here are the examples....
I was thinking of the indicator do u think it would be better on the red part of the tail light.Your input would be highly appreciated ............ Now everything is clear, ......one last question though, I couldn't follow this statement of yours:"
After the five sequences are over the chasing light pattern starts then the five sequence pattern..................."
What I understood is, the predator signs would be displayed initially in the chasing pattern.....once this chasing gets over, all the sign-blocks would illuminate together and flash, may be twice and thrice.......what next?? what should be the function after this??
Using White LEDs instead of Red
I think the white section would produce better results.....under the red lens, the red LEDs would become too much responsive, and therefore difficult to distinguish.
I'm really glad that ur taking your time to understand and email me back .I'm am truly thankful.
What i meant in the quote after the five sequences are over chasing light pattern starts then the sequence pattern
It is like a cycle or loop?
Understanding the Chasing Pattern of the LEDs
The predator signs would be displayed initially in the chasing pattern.....once this chasing gets over, all the sign-blocks would illuminate together and flash, may be twice and thrice"
Then the predator sign chasing pattern would start all over again. after it it is over all the sign blocks would illuminate together and flash may be twice and thrice then the predator sign chasing pattern.
You understand now a loop Now we are using this circuit for the red part of the lens on the tailight
Thank you!This project is interesting, and the folks will love to read it when it gets published 🙂
We had discussed earlier, that the signs wouldn't be understandable from some distance and therefore after the initial sequences are over the background light should start flashing in order to make the light distinguishable to the distant vehicles.....
so I was actually referring to this operation, when should this happen? According to me after the sequencing and the flashing of the predator signs finish, the background lights should come into action.
If the predator sign sequences keep repeating, it will interfere with the actual flashing of the background lights. Since the operations are connected with signalling and safety issues, it needs to be taken care of seriously. This is what I was interested to know about, so it is the last part of the confusion.....:)
Okay good that you mention safety, lets do it with your method then ." According to me after the sequencing and the flashing of the predator signs finish, the background lights should come into action." so it is a loop cycle - predator signs-backround lights come into action - predator signs
This is just like a send u with the last email with all the pics
I'll do it soon, and inform you when it's published....Thanks! Great looking foward to the post .I have some great ideas for some other projects.like a spectrum analyser display for a car.
an antiteft device for a car
Designing the Predator LED Tail Light Circuit
As shown in the following circuit diagram, three numbers of IC 4017 have been used for implementing the required sequencing operations of the predator signs as well as the background LED indicator bars.
The different stages of the circuit operation may be understood with these points:
When the turn signal switch is turned ON, the 12V supply passes through the 7812 voltage regulated IC and powers the preceding electronic circuit stages.
N1 along with R1 and C1 forms the clock generator or the oscillator circuit which provides the necessary clocking to pin#14 of IC1 and IC2.
IC1 outputs immediately start sequencing in response to the above clocks.
The sequencing initiates from pin#3 of IC1 to pin#10 Since the predator LED patterns are connected with these outputs via transistor drivers, all of these signs become illuminated one after the other in the given sequence.
At pin#10 the last predator pattern illuminates. In the following sequences, pin#1, 5 6 and 9 of IC1 become high one after the other....however since these outputs are connected to the base of T1 (see next figure), T1 switches ON and it also switches ON T2.
T2 now starts providing 12V to all the driver transistors which are responsible for sequencing the predator signs, this action immediately switch ON all the predator signs together.
However the clocks (positive) reaching the base of T2 via D1 forces it to blink with every positive clock from N1.
Due to this operation T2 switches in a flashing mode and initiates a flashing response over all the predator which flash thrice until the sequence reaches pin#11 of IC1.
At this point the logic high from pin11 connects with pin 13 of IC1, locking its sequencing on the spot so that the IC now is unable to sequence any further and gets latched at this position.
But the above logic high prompt the output of N4 to go low, which immediately enables IC2 to begin its own sequencing shifts.
The outputs of IC2 now begins sequencing and illuminates the connected LEDs from pin#3 to pin#11.
This sequencing starts repeating, and in the process the logic high at pin#3 of IC2 clocks IC#3 pin#14.
IC3 responds to these clocks and in turn allows its outputs to sequence. When its output sequence reaches at pin#5, the entire system RESETs, because the logic high from pin#5 of IC3 hits pin#15 of IC1.
The entire process begins all over again.
The outputs of IC2 are arranged as small vertical bars using high bright RED LEDs and are put in between the predator sign-block gaps and ahead.
When the predator sign stops, these bars take their position and continue the sequencing so that the indications become prominently visible even to the distant vehicles at the rear.
The following figure shows the method in which the bars of the predator sign may be wired using 3mm high bright red LEDs.
As shown, each of the lines in the signs are made by aligning three 3mm LEDs in series. Once all the lines are aligned with the LEDs, the anodes of each string should be connected with individual current limiting resistors.
The ends of the resistors should be made into a common for different blocks and these points should be connected to the collectors of T3, T4, T5, T6, T7 respectively.
The cathodes of all the LEDs in the blocks should be made into a single common point and connected to ground.
R1 = 100 pot
R2 = 1M
R3....R12 = 1K
R13...R22 = 150 Ohms
R23....R31 = 1K
D1.....D5 = 1N4148
IC1,2,3 = 4017
IC4 = 7812
N1....N4 = 4093
T1 = BC547
T2 = BC557
T3....T7 = 8050
C1....C4 = 1uF/25V non polar
6) LED Chaser Circuit cum Blinker Using IC 4017
The sixth concept presented below is also another LED chaser circuit but includes a blinking effect to the design. The circuit was requested by Mr.Joe, one of the keen followers of this blog.
The circuit initially was intended to be used for generating LED strobe light effects and was asked to be modified such that it could be used as an LED sequencer as well as a blinker. The change over would be implemented via a toggle switch.
The IC 4017 is not new to us and we all know how versatile and competent this device is. Basically the IC a Johnson’s decade counter/divide by 10 IC, fundamentally used in applications where sequencing positive output signals are required or desired.
The sequencing or the orderly shifting of the outputs take place in response to a clock pulse that needs to be applied at the clock input pin #14 of the IC.
With every rising positive edge of the clock input, the IC responds and pushes its output’s positive from the existing pin out to the next pin out in the order.
Here a couple of NOT gates are used as a oscillator for providing the above clock pulses to the IC 4017. VR1 may be adjuted for determining or fixing the speed of the sequencing.
The outputs of the IC are connected to an array of LEDs in a specific order which makes the LEDs look like as if they are running or chasing during the operations.
If the circuit would be required only to produce the chasing effect, the diodes would not be required, however as per the present ask the diodes become important and allows the circuit to be used as a blinker also, depending upon the position of the switch S1.
When the switch S1 is positioned at A, the circuit behaves like a light chaser and produces the normal chasing effect over the LEDs which start illuminating in sequence from top to the bottom, repeating the operations as long as the circuit remains powered.
As soon as S1 is flicked toward B, the clock signals from the oscillator are shifted into the input of the transistor T1, which instantly stats to pulsate all the LEDs together in response to the received clocks from N1/N2 configuration.
Thus as per the requirement we have successfully modified an ordinary light chaser circuit with an additional feature through which the circuit now is also able to function as a LED flasher.
Do not forget to connect the inputs of the remaining unused gates from the IC 4049 either to the positive or the negative of the supply. The supply pins of the IC 4049 also need to be connected to the relevant supply rails of the circuit, kindly refer to the datasheet of the IC.
If all the ten outputs of the IC 4017 are required to be integrated with LED sequencing, just connect pin #15 of the IC to ground and use the left over outputs of the IC for the required sequencing of the LEDs in the order of: 3,2,4,7,10,1,5,6,9,11
The following parts will be needed for making this LED light chaser cum flasher circuit:
- R1, R2, R3 = 1K,
- R4 = 100k
- VR1 = 100K linear pot.
- All LED resistors are = 470 Ohms,
- All diodes are = 1N4148,
- All LEDs = RED, 5mm or as per choice,
- T1 = 2N2907, or 8550 or 187,
- C1 = 10uF/25V
- C2 = 0.1uF,
- IC1 = 4017,
- N1, N2 = IC4049
Guys, so these were 6 best looking LED chaser circuits for you all that could be built and applied as a decorative piece of lighting with a dazzling eye catching effect. You can use them anywhere you like, in your home, in your vehicles, garden, hall room, for parties, on caps/hats, apparels, during festivals etc.
Think have more such ideas, please share them here for the pleasure of the entire homemade circuit community.