Add a flashing, tricolor UFO to your
roller skates. By Dan Bassak
Skatetown is our local roller rink in Bloomsburg, Pa.
For years, it’s also been my artistic LED experiment
laboratory. I started by taping single-color LEDs to
skates. They were so popular that one session on
the floor looked like a swarm of fireflies.
Photography by Brent Eckart
My latest LED invention is the UFO Toe Stop. It
uses a disk-shaped “flying saucer” unit that contains a red, green, and blue (RGB) LED. I wanted to
blend the colors in interesting ways, so I wired it to
a PIC-controlled RGB microcontroller that comes
with programmed routines such as fixed colors,
fast-changing rainbows, or dazzling strobe effects.
I also used some translucent jam plugs (small
bolt covers used in skate dancing) that I bought in
the rink’s pro shop as light diffusers.
1. Unscrew the boot and the old toe stop (or jam
plug) from the skate plate (Figure A, following page).
Place the skate plate on the
1" plastic sheet
(Figure B). Mark the 4 boot holes on the sheet and
drill them to the same size as the boot screws.
2. Temporarily bolt the skate plate to the plastic
sheet with 1" screws. Trace the outline of the plate
using a sharp point and then tap the skate plate
with a mallet to leave marks where the plate’s
protruding rivets are located. (In Step 4, you’ll drill
holes through these marks to allow clearance for
3. Mark the center of the toe stop, looking down
through its threaded hole. This will be the center of
your LED. Because most toe stops are at an angle,
center the hole slightly toward the front of the skate.
This slight angle will give higher light output from
your LED toe stop.