50 Diy Pinewood Derby Timer

Pinewood Derby Timer
Pinewood Derby Timer from www.miscjunk.org


Are you ready to take your Pinewood Derby experience to the next level? Look no further than a DIY Pinewood Derby timer! In this article, we will guide you through the process of building your very own timer for this classic racing event. Whether you are a parent looking to add some excitement to your child's race or a Pinewood Derby enthusiast yourself, this project is sure to impress. So, let's get started!

Materials Needed

Arduino Uno

The Arduino Uno is a microcontroller board that will serve as the brain of your Pinewood Derby timer. It is readily available online or at your local electronics store.

LED Display

An LED display will provide the visual countdown for your timer. You can choose between different sizes and styles based on your preferences.

Push Button

A push button will be used to start and stop the timer. Make sure to get a high-quality button that can withstand repeated use.

Resistors and Capacitors

You will need a few resistors and capacitors to ensure the proper functioning of your timer. Consult the Arduino Uno documentation to determine the specific values required.

Jumper Wires

Jumper wires will be used to connect the various components of your timer. It is best to have a variety of lengths and colors to keep your circuit organized.


A breadboard will serve as a temporary platform for prototyping and testing your circuit. It allows for easy rearrangement of components without the need for soldering.

Power Supply

Your timer will require a power supply to operate. This can be a USB cable connected to a computer or a dedicated power adapter.

Enclosure (Optional)

If you want to give your timer a professional look and protect the components, consider getting an enclosure. There are many options available, from 3D-printed cases to off-the-shelf project boxes.

Building the Circuit

Step 1: Set Up the Breadboard

Start by placing the Arduino Uno and the LED display on the breadboard. Connect the necessary power and ground pins of the Arduino to the corresponding rails on the breadboard.

Step 2: Connect the LED Display

Refer to the datasheet of your specific LED display to determine the pin connections. Use jumper wires to connect the display to the Arduino Uno. Ensure that the pins are properly aligned and securely attached.

Step 3: Add the Push Button

Connect the push button to the breadboard, making sure to connect one leg to a digital input pin on the Arduino and the other leg to ground. Use a pull-up resistor to ensure that the pin reads a HIGH state when the button is not pressed.

Step 4: Insert the Resistors and Capacitors

Add the required resistors and capacitors to the circuit as per the Arduino Uno documentation. These components help stabilize the voltage and protect the microcontroller.

Step 5: Double-Check Connections

Before powering up the circuit, double-check all the connections to ensure they are correct and secure. This will prevent any potential issues or damage when the timer is in use.

Writing the Code

Step 1: Install the Arduino IDE

If you haven't already, download and install the Arduino IDE (Integrated Development Environment) from the official website. This software allows you to write and upload code to your Arduino board.

Step 2: Open a New Sketch

Launch the Arduino IDE and open a new sketch. This is where you will write the code for your Pinewood Derby timer.

Step 3: Define Variables

In the beginning of your code, define the necessary variables such as the pins for the LED display and the push button. This will make it easier to modify and troubleshoot your timer in the future.

Step 4: Set Up the Timer Functionality

Write the code for the timer functionality, including the countdown and the start/stop mechanism. Utilize the Arduino's built-in functions and libraries to simplify the process.

Step 5: Test and Debug

Upload the code to your Arduino Uno and test the functionality of your timer. Use the Serial Monitor in the Arduino IDE to debug any issues and make necessary adjustments.

Assembling the Timer

Step 1: Mount the Components

If you opted for an enclosure, mount the Arduino Uno, LED display, and push button inside it. Ensure that the components are securely fastened and properly aligned.

Step 2: Connect the Power Supply

Connect the power supply to the Arduino Uno, either through a USB cable or a dedicated power adapter. Make sure the voltage and polarity are correct to avoid damaging the components.

Step 3: Final Test

Perform a final test of your Pinewood Derby timer to ensure everything is functioning as expected. Start a countdown, press the button to stop the timer, and verify that the display updates accordingly.


Congratulations! You have successfully built your very own DIY Pinewood Derby timer. Now, you can add an extra element of excitement and fairness to your races. Whether you are hosting a local derby or competing in a larger event, this timer is sure to impress. So gather your materials, follow the steps outlined in this article, and get ready for some high-speed Pinewood Derby action!