There are several commercial and non-commercial options available to control LED displays. These range from small portable displays running on a dedicated microcontroller to large commercial ones that are controlled by custom applications running on a dedicated computer and multiple controllers. WLED is a non-comercial (open source) program and is the probably the best available for portable displays as it supports a wide variety of animations/colour palettes and can be controlled by your cell phone over WiFi. In order to make your own WLED displays, you will need a laptop/desktop and:
- A WeMOS Mini D1 microcontroller board.
- A WS2812B addressable LED strip.
- Optional 3 pin JST male and female connectors (may come with the LED’s).
- A Micro USB programming/power cable.
- An optional USB powerbank.
- To download the WLED software and upload it to your board.
- To solder the wires to the controller board (5V, Gnd and D4).
Alternatively, commercially available products for small displays include:
- Pixelblaze from Ben Hencke (soldering required).
- Alitove from Amazon (have not tried this).
- Lunsy from Amazon (have not tried this).
- SP108E WiFi controller plus WS2812’s.
- SP105E Bluetooth controller plus WS2812’s.
- SP107E Bluetooth controller with music reactivity plus WS2812’s.
- Others (just keep searching).
There are also various products available on www.aliexpress.com, with key search words being ‘WS2812B’, ‘addressable LED’, ‘WS2812B with controller’. Some may work with Infra Red remote, RF remotes and more. You can also buy controllers that are separate from the LED strips, but you may need to do some soldering.
Excellent guides to addressable LED’s, aka NeoPixels and WS2812’s include:
Do not buy inexpensive RGB controllers or LED strips because, although the strip can change colours, ALL the LED’s will be the same colour, and not on a per LED basis as with WS2812 based addressable LED’s.
Andrew writes animations, creates demonstration and instructional videos, and offers LED/lantern related workshops in the Vancouver area for organizations upon request. He does not currently sell his pieces or other LED related products.
Andrew has published several demonstration videos and slides on YouTube, a Wiki as well as Slideshare. Most of his videos include animations and source code that were written for the Arduino Nano and the WeMOS D1 Mini using an Arduino ‘library’ called FastLED. Some of those animations have been incorporated into WLED. He hopes to develop sound reactive capability and animations for WLED.
Feel free to contact Andrew at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have the occasional question. In addition, Andrew is also available for programming, configuring, building, training at a negotiable rate + materials .
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