LED for a Friend

This is more a photo essay than anything else. A colleague of mine wanted to play with some programmable features of an LED strip, but hadn't ever soldered before. This ended up being their secret Santa present.

Like a lot of tech, it's not that intimidating when you break it down into steps. What I love about projects like this is that they involve physical creation, coding, and you get a system & solution that's greater than the sum of the parts.

The parts list is this:
  • ESP32 Controller (Wemos/Lolin are my go-to)
  • WS2812B LED strip
  • A 5v power supply (USB is fine)
  • An 10kOhm resistor (more deets later)
  • Some color-coded wire
  • Shrink-wrap
  • Data-capable mini-usb cable

Step one, Google what the color codes on your resistors are and find the right one!

Inventory ready to go.

It's always nice to have something like quad hands to help when it's time to solder up! Solder the pin array to the Wemos.

Get that resistor wired up.

Protect it with some shrink-wrap.

Solder up the pins to prep for connection to the Wemos.

Test plug!

Remember to take a break!

There are some great tutorials out there to do this completely, so please forgive my brevity! Your red and black wires are positive and negative. The green is the signal wire (comms between the Wemos and LEDs, each of which has a chip!). In the next photo you see the other end of those three wires + two more. The red and black are joined by two which will come from your external power source.

Now, for a low quantity of LEDs (say, 20 or less) you can power everything through the Wemos board, but beyond that it's too much power. That's where this external supply comes in and the need for the resistor on the signal wire. 

Here comes the fun part - soldering onto your strip. You'll see these strips can be cut between any LED at the prescribed location. One thing that is very important, is the direction indicated on the LED strip (ask me how I know). See that little arrow inside the clear flexi cover? Yep -- power in this way.

Ideally you'll have a bit of room and can then push your soldered, wrapped connection inside for some additional protection.

Next step is getting fancy and putting a sheath over the whole thing to make it look cool when the LEDs come on.

Next comes the programming ... head over to https://kno.wled.ge (real website!) and follow the instructions to blast the WLED firmware onto the Wemos. All you need is that quality mini usb cable and you'll be creating patterns all over.

No, no I don't have a final product pic. :( I do have some pics sent back to me from my colleague, but can't find them for the life of me! If you have any questions, you'll find a few sites out there with complete details, or feel free to hit me up.

You could call this code-free, and in a way it is, however it's no less complex. I enjoy designing, building and improving systems that are crafted from what I call the highest level of abstraction. 

Have fun!


Popular Posts