If you’re a fan of Knight Rider, you’ve got to check out this Raspberry Pi-powered KITT replica created by maker Fred Arias. According to Arias, he’s been a lifelong fan of the series and always favored the interactive talking car. This project provided an opportunity to both tinker with the RP2040 and pay homage to his favorite TV character.
This project is one of several that Arias has created centered around the RP2040 microprocessor. A quick delve into his recent activity shows a few projects, including a bilingual magic 8 ball that uses a Pico with an MPU6050 gyroscope to answer questions in English or Chinese and a Pico-powered robot arm attached to a tank.
Today’s project is more than a prop, involving a more complicated design to make the end product interactive. Arias even went as far as to create a custom PCB just for the KITT project that better resembles the original LED soundbars, based on a design by David Such. The system also uses a microphone to listen for audio, triggering different audio files depending on the audio volume detected.
We reached out to Arias for more details about the project and confirmed the main RP2040 board used is a Waveshare RP2040-Plus with 4MB of flash. For sound, he’s using a DAC audio board along with an Adafruit PDM microphone module and a PAM8303 audio amplifier. An IR sensor is used for determining when a user is nearby to know when it’s time to listen with the microphone. Audio responses are met with accompanying LED flashes.
The software for this project was written in CircuitPython. Arias explains that the KITT project does not use voice recognition as it’s only powered by a microcontroller. In this case, he’s using the volume of the speaker's voice to determine what sort of audio file to play.
If you want to recreate this Raspberry Pi project or just get a closer look at it in action, check out the original thread shared on Reddit. Arias has confirmed plans to share a full tutorial and PCB designs in the near future under a new YouTube channel. Be sure to follow him for more updates and future RP2040-based projects.