Practical PIC Projects


UFO round LED Chaser with speed control
for PIC16F628A (#433K)



This is an updated version of the UFO LED Chaser project, revised to use the PWM LED Chaser code version 3.0.0 with support for variable chase speed.   The basic LED chaser 'engine' firmware is the same as that used with the 481/483 LED chaser projects also on this site. The only difference is the sequence data used to create the programmer ready .HEX file. This has been modified to include chase effects that suit the circular arrangement of LEDs.

Unlike many simple LED chaser projects the design presented here provides 8 LEDs directly driven from the PIC along with a single mode control switch and speed adjust control.  The firmware elsewhere on this page drives the LEDs with a 5 bit PWM signal providing each of the 8 LED channels with four levels of intensity; off, dim, mid and bright.  A number of sequences are programmed into the firmware to provide some interesting visual effects and chase sequences.

The software has sequential, random and manual sequence run modes and manual advance to the next sequence in any mode.  The selected sequence and mode are also saved to non-volatile memory so it will always restart in the selected mode.  

The design is deliberately simple with each LED being directly driven from a PIC I/O pin.  You can use it with different sized LEDs and mixed colours.  While it works well as a simple LED chaser, thinking outside the box it can be used to add effects to toys and models and even accessorize fancy dress costumes.  See FAQ

A solder pad jumper on the PCB selects between fixed speed chaser using internal timing or variable chase speed adjustable using the on-board variable resistor.  The adjustable chase speed option makes it ideal for use in a wide range of applications.  The kit 433K includes all parts needed to build the variable speed chaser.

The firmware pre-programmed into the PIC16F628A supplied with the kit includes over 34 chase effects and sequences.   If you're interested in PIC micros and programming and want to modify the sequences or create new ones, the source code and programmer ready HEX file is provided at the bottom of this page. 


Download schematic in PDF

Circuit Description

The heart of the LED chaser is the PIC 16F628A microcontroller, IC1. The program that runs on this chip controls the LEDs attached to the output port pins.  Resistors R1 thru R8 limit the current through LED1 - LED8 to a safe level that won't damage the PICs I/O ports or LEDs.  Resistor R9 provides a pull-up for the input connected to switch S1.  R10 holds the PICs MCLR reset signal high.

The variable resistor PR1 along with C4 are used to create a software oscillator.  C4 is charged and discharged via PR1 from port B0 output.  The input on Port A7 is monitored by the firmware, when the input goes high port B0 is driven low to discharge C4. When Port A7 goes low, port B0 is driven high to charge C4.  An important requirement is the use of a Schmitt trigger input buffer on Port A7 input pin which provides the necessary hysteresis to make the software oscillator work.  This oscillator is then used to provide the clock for the chaser timing and since the speed is controlled by the rate C4 charges through PR1 the chaser speed can be controlled by adjusting PR1. A 1K0 resistor, R11 is placed in series with PR1 to set the maximum chase speed when PR1 is adjusted to minimum resistance.

Capacitor C1 is used to decouple the 5 volt power supply to the PIC.  If you're building the circuit on a breadboard or stripboard you should ensure it is located close to the PICs Vdd connection (pin 14 ).

Power is supplied to the circuit via the +/- solder points.  The voltage regulator, IC2 is a LM2931-5.0, low-drop-out regulator and will maintain regulation with an input voltage down to 5.8 volts.  Input voltage for the LED chaser should be between 6 volts and 14 volts to ensure power dissipation remains within limits.  The LM2931-5.0 regulator is designed for battery powered and automotive applications and includes internal current limiting, thermal shutdown, as well as reverse battery connection without damage to itself or the circuit behind it.  Capacitor C3 is important and must be fitted to prevent instability of the regulator output

Typical current drawn by the circuit with all LEDs on is only around 80mA; with all LEDs off it is under 5mA. 


  • The latest high brightness LEDs are very bright even with 330R current limiting resistors. However, if you do need to change these resistors for some reason take into account the maximum current that the on-board voltage regulator can deliver is 100mA.
  • EXT solder bridge jumper.

    When left open the chaser runs at a fixed speed using the internal sequence timing data.

    When closed (bridged with solder on the PCB) the chaser uses the software controlled oscillator for timing, the frequency is adjusted using PR1 which in turn controls the chase speed.

    If you leave the 'EXT' jumper open, you can omit PR1, R11 and C4.  The circuit and firmware will operate correctly using the internal timing data.
  • The jumpers marked 'SJ1' and 'MODE' are not currently used.  Do not bridge them with solder.

PCB Layout


The PCB measures 48mm across the flat faces

Four mounting holes are 3mm diameter (use M3 screw)

Artwork for this board is not available since the double sided layout isn't really suitable for home production.


Component List

Although we're no longer selling the kit for this project we still have stock of the PCB433 available.

Cost is 10 for 10 PCBs + postage (we ship world wide)

email if you're interested in buying.

Kit Component list

Label Description Qty
R1-R8 330R 5%, 0.125 watt carbon film 8
R9, R10 10K 5%, 0.125 watt carbon film 2
R11 1K0 5%, 0.125 watt carbon film 1
PR1 20K preset 1
C1,C2 100nF multilayer ceramic (2.5mm) 2
C3 47uF radial electrolytic 1
C4 2.2uF radial electrolytic 1
IC1 PIC16F628A (pre-programmed with firmware) 1
IC2 LM2931-5.0 LDO regulator 1
SW1 Tactile switch (like Omron B3F-31xx) 1
SW2 sub-minature slide switch 1
C1 battery connector + 150mm leads 1
SKT1 18 pin DIP socket 1
PCB433 Double sided FR4, thru-plated, with solder mask, top overlay and OSP finish. 1
  • Kit #433K does not include the LEDs, these can be bought separately or sourced independently.
  • Kit #433KBL includes 8 x 5mm high brightness blue LEDs
  • The PCB is available to buy on its own if you want to source the parts and program the PIC yourself.  (programmer ready HEX file is free to download here)

Kit 433K

PCB Only (433P)


Construction notes:

  • Follow these instructions carefully. 
  • The PCB is double sided, thru-plated which makes removal of incorrectly installed components difficult without damaging the component and/or the PCB.
  • Pay attention to the assembly instructions and make sure each component is fitted the right way round and in the right position.  
  • Some components need to be fitted the correct way round and others look similar but have different values so must be identified and fitted in the correct position.
  • Check twice, solder once :-)

click on the photo's for 1024x768 large version.


Fig .2

Fig. 3

Fig 1.  Start by bridging the solder jumper marked 'EXT' with a blob of solder

Next fit the resistors.  There are 11 in total: 8 x 330R resistors, 2 x 10K resistors and 1 x 1K resistor. 

The colour bands only indicate the resistance value.  Since resistors are not electrically directional components it doesn't matter which way round the resistor is fitted.

The resistors used here are 1/8 (0.125) watt parts which are about half the size of standard 1/4 (0.25) watt resistors so the colour bands are not so easy to see. If you buy the PCB only and are supplying your own parts make sure to get 1/8 watt resistors as the 1/4 watt ones are too big to fit on the PCB.

In Fig 2.  Fit the single 1K0 resistor to position R11


In Fig 3.  Next fit the two 10K resistors to positions R9 and R10





Fig 4. Finally fit the eight 330R resistors to positions R1 to R8


Resistor colour codes explained

Fig 5.  Next fit the two 100nF capacitors C1 and C2.  These are marked '104' on one side (see photo right)

The package on these is blue, it has no significance and may be any colour.

Fig 6.  Fit the 18 pin DIL socket to position IC1. You will see a small notch in one end.  It should be fitted so the notch is at the same end as the small semi-circle marking on the PCB overlay. Do not install the PIC16F628A into the socket at this stage.




Fig 7. Next fit IC2 (LM2931 LDO voltage regulator).  This has three leads and must be fitted the correct way round.  The body has a 'D' shaped profile when viewed from above and it should be fitted so it matches the marking on the PCB overlay

Fig 8. The two electrolytic capacitors look very similar but have different capacitance values so you will need to inspect them to identify which one is which:

  • C3 is marked 47F
  • C4 is marked 2.2F

Fig 9. Capacitors C3 and C4 must be fitted the correct way round.  You will see that one of the leads is shorter.  This is the negative terminal of the capacitor.  It must be located so the short lead is in the hole towards the bottom edge of the PCB as shown Fig 9. photo.

It is important that the correct value capacitor is fitted in each location or the circuit will not operate correctly.





Fig 10. You now need to fit the switch S1 and speed control resistor PR1.  For the construction notes I've mounted them both on the component side, however these can be fitted to either the component side or the solder side of the PCB.  Which side you fit the switch and resistor will depend on how you are going to use the LED chaser and mount the assembled board.  The photo in Fig 10. illustrates the different ways they can be fitted. 

The leads on the switch are a tight fit.  Position the ends of the leads into the holes in the PCB, then push with even pressure using the tips of your thumbs on either side of the switch body. It should then snap into place. Don't try and push it into place using the button. 

Fig 11.
 This photo shows the assembled board from four different views.  Your board should now have all the components shown here assembled onto the board.

Fig 12.  The switch in-line with the battery connector is used as a power on/off switch.

Take the battery lead and the slide switch.  Cut the red wire about half way along its length.   Strip back about 7mm  of insulation from each end.  Insert the bare wire ends half way through the hole in the switch terminal and bend back 180o.  Now solder to the terminal as shown in the photo. 

The switch is a DPDT (double-pole, double-throw) type with 6 terminals. Only two are connected for the on/off switch function. 




Fig 13. 
 Solder the battery connection lead to the solder points as shown.   There is a hole in the PCB; pass the leads through this hole then insert into the solder points (red to +, black to -).  This hole provides strain relief for the wires.

Fig 14.  [You don't have to do this step if you don't have access to a voltmeter, but it's worth doing if you can]

Check the underside of the board to make sure the solder joints are good and there are no shorts or solder bridges, resolder any suspect joints and clean off the underside.

Apply power to the board; the input voltage (at the battery terminals) should be between 6 and 14 volts DC. A 9 volt PP3 battery is ideal for this.

Measure the voltage between pins 5 and 14 of the IC1 socket.  IC2 regulates the input voltage to a nominal 5 volts so it should measure between 4.8 and 5.2 volts.  If it doesn't investigate why and correct the problem before continuing with assembly.

Fig 15.  You can now solder the LEDs into position.
 The LEDs must be installed the correct way round.  Each LED has two leads and one lead will be shorter than the other.  The short lead normally indicates the LED Cathode terminal and it must be fitted into the hole toward the arrow point on the PCB overlay.

I have yet to see an LED where the short lead is not the Cathode, however with so many suppliers of cheap LEDs from China and South East Asia it is worth checking an LED out-of-circuit before assembling them onto the PCB.

The basic 433K kit is supplied without LEDs so you will need to supply these yourself, or you can buy them from the picprojects eShop.  Kit 433KBL, also available from the eShop includes 8 x 5mm high brightness blue LEDs.




Fig 16. When soldering the LEDs to the PCB solder only one lead of each LED to start with.  Once all the LEDs are fitted, adjust their position so they are correctly aligned and pointing in the direction required.  Then solder the remaining leads to fix the LED and complete the electrical connection.

If you solder both leads of each LED and then try and move it you risk damage to the PCB and/or LED.

Fig 17.  This photo show the completed LED chaser.  The LEDs have been bent at a right angle to change the visual effect of the chaser. The LEDs can also be mounted vertically or even using short flexible wire fly-leads if you are building it into a custom application.

Fig 18.  Finally you can fit IC1, the PIC 16F628A microcontroller.  The PIC has a notch in one end of the device and assuming you have fitted the socket correctly, the PIC should be inserted into the socket with the notch in the PIC at the same end.  Referring back to Fig 18. the notch should be at the right hand end as seen in the photo.

Make sure the pins of IC1 go into the socket and don't get bent underneath or down the outside of the socket.


With all parts assembled, check the underside of the board to make sure the solder joints are good and there are not shorts or solder bridges.   If the inspection is okay, you can now connect the assembled board to a battery or power supply.

The input voltage to the board should be between 6 volts and 14 volts DC.

Power Supply

The board can be powered from a 9 volt battery such as a PP3, or a 12 volt battery including connection to a car electrical system.  Alternatively it can be connected to a suitable DC power supply rated between 6 and 14 volts and able to supply at least 150mA. 

In the UK you can buy a suitable power adapter from Rapid Electronics.  You'll also find similar power adapters available from retail stores and e-Bay.

Rapid Electronics   5W SWITCH MODE PLUGTOP PSU 9V 550MA RC Part # 85-2926

If wiring to an alternative power source (not using the battery terminal clip supplied in the kit) make sure the polarity of the power supply is correct; at the PCB the positive supply to the '+' and negative to the '-' connection points.

User Operation Guide

The chaser has three modes of operation.

  1. Manual mode will run the same sequence continually. When the switch is pressed it will skip to the next sequence in program memory.
  2. In auto-sequential mode, the program runs through each sequence in program memory until it reaches the end of all defined sequences at which point it restarts from the first one.
  3. In random mode the program selects sequences randomly.

When the chaser is running in any mode, a short press of the switch will make the controller skip to the next sequence. 

To enter setup mode, press and hold the switch.  Once it enters setup mode one of three LEDs will light indicating the current run mode.  A short press of the switch cycles through the three modes. When the desired run mode has been selected, press and hold the switch to exit setup and return to run mode.

The current mode and selected sequence are automatically saved to the PICs internal non-volatile EEPROM memory 10 seconds after the last switch press.  When the LED chaser is next powered up it will load and start running using the saved mode and sequence.

Adjusting the chase speed.

The chaser speed can be adjusted by rotating PR1 as shown

+ increase the speed
- decrease the speed

Description of Sequence Data

The data used to create the sequences is held in a separate include file.  You can add, remove or edit this data to create your own chaser sequences.

To make the creation of the data file easier a set of macros have been defined which are used to create the sequence data.  This is described in the Sequence data flowchart  (also available as a JPEG image right)

If you download the source code and look at the file named you can see the data used in this project.  You might want to edit this file as a starting point to create some sequences of your own.


  • In manual mode, when the repeat count reaches zero it restarts the same sequence, to advance to the next sequence press the switch.
  • In Random mode it will select a random sequence number to run. If the Mirror flag is true for that sequence it will also randomly choose to mirror the data or not.
  • In auto-sequential mode if the Mirror flag is true it will run the sequence and then repeat it with the data mirrored.


The PIC supplied in the kit is pre-programmed with the firmware below so you don't need to do anything if you bought the kit.

Should you need to reprogram the supplied PIC with the original code supplied, use the HEX file below.

The HEX file is ready to program straight into the PIC chip. 

The Source code will allow you to create your own sequences and then reassemble the code to use them with the Round PWM LED Chaser kit #433K.  Quick guide to reassembling firmware using MPLAB

If you need a PIC Programmer I strongly recommend the Microchip PICKit 2, this is available from suppliers world wide or direct from Microchip.  It's reasonably cheap to buy and reliable. 

Not got a programmer?  Buy a pre-programmed PIC from the On-line store

Description Filename Download link
Source code for 16F628A
HEX file ready to program into the PIC.
Use with 16F628A only
V3.0.1  21/02/2021
This firmware uses the same pro481 v3.0.1 PWM LED Chaser 'engine' code as the 481/483 PWM LED Chaser projects.  The HEX file here has been assembled using different chase sequence data that contains alternative sequences to suit the circular LED layout of this project.


Can you or how can I make it it run more than 8 LEDs?

This is probably the most frequent of the frequently asked questions :-)

The project is an 8 LED Chaser and the firmware was written to work as an 8 LED chaser.

There is no quick and easy change to make it a 9, 12 or some other number of LED chaser.  If you need a chaser with more LEDs then this project is not suitable for your needs.

I want to put more than one LED on each output channel, how can I do this?

Check out the Power MOSFET PWM LED Chaser projects (483)

Will it work with 3mm LEDs?

Yes, 3mm LEDs will work as will 8mm and 10mm LEDs.  3mm LEDs can be mounted on the PCB, 8mm and 10mm LEDs would need to be connected by flying leads.

Can I use less than 8 LEDs?

Yes, since the sequences are user definable you can create sequences that use less than 8 LEDs.

I only want it to run one sequence, can it do that?

Since the current mode and selected sequence are saved to NVRAM, it always powers up in the last mode and running the last sequence.  Therefore if you select manual mode and the sequence required, it will run only that sequence until you change it.

Do the LEDs have to be the same colour?

No they don't.  If you want you can mix different coloured LEDs.  You can also mix 3mm/5mm/8mm/10mm LEDs if you want too.

Can it run from a 12volt car battery?

Yes, should work fine from a car battery.  We suggest you include an in-line fuse of 250mA in series with the power lead to the board.

Can you modify the code to run on a PIC type xyz?

The code has been written to run on three of the most popular PICs available.  If you want to modify the source code it could be made to run on other PIC types, however we won't modify the code.



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