Using ATMega328 Microcontroller Custom Tron Disc Mod

In this Instructable, I cover modding the store-bought Deluxe Identity Disc to an upgraded version with 64 leds, controlled by an AVR MCU. The upgraded version is costume-ready and would be an excellent addition to your Tron costume – it’ll also look great on your desk/dresser/etc.
My 7 year old daughter watched Tron:Legacy with me on Father’s day and decided instantly that she wanted to be Quorra for Halloween. I knew the costume would be a decent bit of work, and I don’t sew (although I will be getting assistance making the costume – hopefully a forthcoming instructable) – I decided to start with the Identity Disc.
I managed to find an identity disc at Target for $9 on clearance (they can be found on Amazon for $12 as of the writing of this article). However, when we brought the disc home, I was seriously disappointed at the lack lighting. So – like any good father would do – I set out to upgrade the disc.
Please note that this project does not preserve the original sound – I’d really like to include something, but didn’t find any AVR examples I really liked. If you have any suggestions for sound inclusion – please share!
Before I start the article – and before people say they can’t do this themselves – let me be clear about my qualifications. I’m a Software Developer (.Net). I’m not an electrical engineer, my soldering skills are sub-par, and even though I’m a developer – my AVR code is probably horrible. If I can do it, anybody with a lot of patience and time can as well.
And take it easy on me – this is my first Instructable!
When I started my research – I ran across this article: Tron-Disc-with-NET-Microframework. Fantastic implementation – all LEDs can be controlled individually, adjustable brightness. Then I noticed the huge board in the middle. And the expensive cost of the hardware, etc. I needed something that wouldn’t break the bank, and parts that I could fit in the disc.
But first – let me leave you with a little teaser video. This is what the device looks like with the V1 firmware.

LED Display Driver

• Tron Deluxe Identity Disc
• 3 x AAA alkaline batteries – any battery source between 4 and 5.5v would work, but you’re limited on space
• 64 LEDs (I bought a set of 100 blue on Ebay for $3.50 including shipping)
• ATMega328/168 or ATTiny45- I was able to get free samples from Atmel – warning – they’re much more difficult to obtain than Maxim
Any AVR chip that supports SPI/USI and has an additional 2 input pins would probably work as well
• Max7221 or Max7219 LED Display Driver – I was able to get free samples from Maxim – they provide samples fairly freely
I have not tested with the Max7219 – but from what I’ve seen online, these should be interchangeable
• 50+ feet of 30awg wire – seems like a lot – but you’ll need it
• RSet Resistor – I needed a 15k resistor – this helps the LED Driver determine what current/voltage to use
See this page for more information on values
• Solder (I suggest something small like 0.032)
• Perfboard – a small sheet is all you’ll need.
You’ll want the kind with the copper rings. Veroboard would probably work as well, but it’s more expensive
• 24 pin DIP IC Socket (Optional – used for the Max7221 – I don’t trust myself to not fry the IC)
• 28 pin DIP IC Socket
• Two pens with springs
• Hot Glue Sticks
• cyanoacrylate
• Magnetic Reed Switch – I used the glass kind
For the second disc, I used a COTO-20 I purchased from eBay. For the first disc, I harvested one from a broken child’s toy

Soldering Iron – I’m not using anything fancy – just an $8 iron from RadioShack
Soldering Helper – Not sure what it’s really called, but it comes with the RS Iron – it’s a thin tool that I used to help route wires, wrap wire, etc. It proved invaluable. This or a similar tool will come in handy.
Dremel, cut off disc and engraving tip (Optional, but highly suggested)
Wire cutters
Wire stripper (Optional – finger nails work very well on 30awg)
AVR Programmer – I use a $6 USBASP programmer I found on eBay
Silver Sharpie (Optional)
Hot Glue Gun
Pliers – ideally a small pair
For more Detail: Using ATMega328 Microcontroller Custom Tron Disc Mod

About The Author

Ibrar Ayyub

Ibrar Ayyub is an experienced technical writer with a Master's degree in computer science from BZU Multan University. He has written for various industries, mainly home automation, and engineering. He has a clear and simple writing style and is skilled in using infographics and diagrams. He is a great researcher and is able to present information in a well-organized and logical manner.

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