Truck Box Light

A couple years ago my truck was broken into: window smashed, stereo ripped out (joke’s on them, it was broken). It made me realize how often I stow thousands of dollars worth of climbing, biking or camping gear in the cab vulnerable to an opportunist thief or a curious bear attracted by an overlooked gel packet. I needed a better solution.

I spent far more time researching than necessary and eventually, convinced by excellent reviews and a couple cheesy youtube videos, purchased the WeatherGuard. The box is excellent but when dark out – I invariably pull into my campsite well past midnight – it is impossible to see into even with a headlamp. After a more cursory search online for lighting solutions, I decided to build my own and, of course, to have a little fun with it.


Parts List

  1. Arduino UNO. I meant to do this using the Pro Micro but while soldering I accidentally melted it a little.
  2. 1 Sealed non-addressable 1 meter long RGB LED strip with 60 5060 LEDs per meter. Enclosed by a flexible silicon jacket with an IP65 waterproof rating to protect the LEDs, and multicolor to boot!
  3. 3 Fairchild FQP30N06L MOSFETs
  4. Arduino enclosure and 3D printed insert to hold a button (sorry, no part number, it was something found in my toolbox).

The electronics are wired like so:

TruckBoxLight fritzing

As you can see, I’ve wired the control lines into the PWM slots of the Arduino, as I’ll explain later this is so we can have some fun.

The LEDs require 12V and fortunately the Arduino can handle that internally so we don’t need separately regulated supplies. Most vehicles have ample 12VDC sources – I found a place to splice in the radio circuit. This source is hot only in ACC mode so I can’t accidentally burn the truck’s battery by leaving the light on while the box is closed. I ran two wires from here back through the truck frame to the truck box, secured using many zip ties.

The LED strip comes with an adhesive back, simply stick it to the lid of the truck box angled down into the box when the lid is fully open. Some two sided tape on the enclosure and a couple zip ties to secure the 12V wires made quick work of installation.


I could have made a white light shine into the box without using an Arduino, MOSFETs, or really anything other than a simple switch and the 12V source. It would have been cheaper but it would not have been as fun or as functional.

First of all I want a red light for night time use in addition to white. Second, simply turning the light on and off is too jarring so I will use the Arduino’s PWM pins to quickly fade the light on and off. Here I’ve programmed a quick button press for white light and an extended button press to turn on the red light:

CODE HERE (I’m really sorry, I have temporarily lost the code and only have the compiled version. I’m looking for where it has gone)

Next, we need to take advantage of this strip’s ability to be any color at all: Keep holding the button for 3 seconds to enter DiscoBrett(tm) mode. This is just the first revision, eventually I want to augment this code to blink instead of simply change, wire it into the speakers and have it adjust brightness based on volume, or maybe something more.

CODE HERE (I’m really sorry, I have temporarily lost the code and only have the compiled version. I’m looking for where it has gone)


TruckBoxLight from Brett Heliker on Vimeo.


As long as I have an Arduino in my truck, what else can I do? Some initial ideas:
– Bluetooth to my phone for control
– Temperature, humidity, environment detection
– Accelerometer to record shocks while driving/offroading
– Light detection and lid opening detection so the light automatically turns on

That’s all for now. Have any ideas for me? Send me a message.