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open-source lightsaber controller

Unlike the V1 TeensySaber electronics, the Proffieboard is not something I recommend that most people build themselves. All the instructions for doing so are available here, but most people should just continue reading to find out how to use the board. What you will need:

Arduino pin numbers in parenthesis.

  • BATT+ - 2.6 to 4.5 volt input, drives everything except the LEDs
  • BATT- - negative pad for LEDs, needs to be at same level as GND when both are connected. Note that there are two of them, which can be useful when driving many powerful LEDs.
  • GND - ground for electronics except LEDs. Note that the two GND pads are interchangable and connected through the board.
  • Speaker +/- - hooks up to speaker
  • Button 1/2/3 - Hook up to closing buttons, or potentially touch buttons.
  • Data 1 / ID - Normally used to measure the blade ID restor, and if it's a neopixel blade, feed out neopixel data. For a fixed non-neopixel saber, it could be repurposed.
  • Data 2-5 - additional neopixel data outputs, or free for other purposes.
  • LED 1-6 - Hooks up to negative side of LED (positive side of LED hooks up directly to battery.) These pads can handle up to 30 volts.
  • SDA, SCL - these pins are used to communicate with the gyro and accelerometer chip.
  • 5v - generated by the proffieboard, normally it's only on when sound is playing.
  • 3.3v - generated by the proffieboard.
  • SWDIO, SWDCLK - can be hooked up to a ST-LINK device and lets you debug programs running on the proffieboard.

Wire gauges
Most pads on the proffieboard will not need to carry any significant amount of power and can use 30 awg (very thin) wire if you choose. However, Battery- will carry the combined power of all your LEDs, which is a fair amount of power. It is recommended to use thicker wires, for these wires. There is no absolute rules for what wire guages are required, but here is a helpful chart. (See the "chassis wiring" column.) Keeping the high-power wires short helps as well.

Select your configuration below. Note that while this tool can show many different configurations for the Proffieboard, there are many many more possible configurations.

Blades / LEDs Buttons Other
OLED Display / PLI
image/svg+xml + 3.7 volt li-ion -
Config file, cut-and-paste this into a new file called my_saber1.h, then follow the instructions on the software page.

Most of the time, programming the Proffieboard is as easy as hookin up the USB cable to a computer and pressing the "upload" button in the Arduino IDE. However, an interrupted upload or a crashing program can sometimes stop that from working. If that happens, hold the boot button, then press and release the reset button. This will put the Proffieboard in bootloader mode, and pressing "upload" should now work.

Touch Buttons
Any of the buttons can replaced with a touch button. To wire a touch button, simply hook up the corresponding wire to a metal surface. Note that in spite of the name, you don't actually want anybody to actuall touch the touch buttons. The metal surface needs to be insulated, both from the rest of the hilt, and from the fingers that will be "touching" it. In my case, I used a circuit-board clamp card in a Graflex lightsaber, then I covered it up with tape to insulate it from everything else. More details here.

Choosing Resistors
Calculating resistor values is fairly easy. Just look up how many amps the LED can handle and at what voltage it expects to achive that current. Then the resitor value we want is (BatteryVoltage - LedVoltage) / LedAmps. And the resistor needs to handle (BatteryVoltage - LedVoltage) * LedAmps watts. Example, if the LED wants 1A @ 3.2 volts, the resistor would be (3.7 - 3.2)/1 = 0.5 ohms, (3.7 - 3.2) * 1 = 0.5 watts.

Note that I use 3.7 volts for the battery in these calculations, while li-ion batteries tends to top out at 4.2 volts. Proffieboard can compensate for this by using PWM to reduce the total amount of power and heat generated by the LED when the voltage is higher than what it is rated for. This mode is efficient and seems to work well, but it is possible that it will reduce the life of the LEDs. If you are not comfortable with this, you should use 4.1 or 4.2 volts in the calculations above.

Multi-battery setup
The FETs on the proffieboard can handle voltages up to 30v, so it's possible to do multi-cell setups. However, "Battery+" cannnot handle more than ~4.5 volts. So you would need a separate battery to power the CPU. Another possibility would be to do two batteries in series, but only use one of them to power the CPU. Since the batteries would be discharged unevently, they would have to be charged separately. In the future, I hope to make "Battery+" handle a wider range of voltages, which would make multi-cell configurations a lot simpler.

Using Data 1, 2, 3 and 5 (not 4) for PWM
Data 1, 2, 3 and 5 can be used to drive LEDs instead of neopixels. However, a single timer is used to drive these pins. For PWM, the timer is usually set to 800Hz, however, when neopixels are used, this timer is set to 800kHz. This basically means that if you use any neopixels, all of these pins become unsuitable for driving LEDs. So, if you select a 6-segment blade + flash string in the configurator above, you cannot use the other data pins to drive nepixels unfortunately.

If you're having problems, check out the troubleshooting page.

Problems? Questions? Suggestions? Check out the The Rebel Armory or fx-sabers online forum.
This page has been accessed 457 times since July 22nd, 2018.
Last modified: August 9th, 2018 - Design by Monica & Fredrik Hübinette