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WLED Project (wled.ge)
232 points by tambourine_man 37 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 82 comments



If you really want to get serious with WLED, check out the new Quinled-Dig-Octa boards. Super affordable and hands down the easiest way to get thousands of lights setup. 50-100A of LEDs, no problem! You’ll spend more on the power supply than you will on Quindor’s top notch boards.

https://quinled.info

(Not affiliated in any way except being a very happy customer)


Not sure how it compares, but I've been using the Evil Genius Labs breakout boards for Wemos D1 and ESP32. They do level shifting and provide very convenient access for attaching multiple LED strips and using them with FastLED or WLED.

Currently running the Christmas lights from one of these, and I've had another one banging around for a couple of years running a LED strip that goes around the kids' bicycle trailer, surviving frost and rain and salt spray, just powered off a USB powerbank.


+1000, we built a large scale art installation using Quinn's DigQuad. they were easily the single most significant and prudent technical decision made for our project. amazing community, documentation, and high quality product.


Any chance of a link or photo or something?


I'm curious -- why something small like a DigQuad and not something beefier like a Falcon/Kulp?

(I guess I'm not sure what you mean by "large scale" -- but WLED/ESP32 doesn't really tick the large box for me)


> but WLED/ESP32 doesn't really tick the large box for me

Sure, you can only run about 2,000 pixels off a single ESP32 running WLED, but there’s no reason you can’t run a bunch of them. I have seven ESP32s driving just shy of 10k pixels myself and I’d personally consider that a large display. I dunno about you, but 3,300 watts of light is definitely not “small scale”.


For a home Christmas light display or something similar - I guess 10k can count as large. (I’m running ~14k, about 1100 of them from WLED). For commercial/art installations - I don’t think that’s “large” though.

Something like a f16v4 can run 33k pixels. But maybe you want more points of control remotely distributed?


Ah, I see what you mean, yes, commercial displays could easily be much larger. But more often than not, they are driven from a video signal. I looked into the commercial grade LED matrix panels from China. Price wasn’t bad itself considering how many LEDs, but shipping would’ve been $1500/panel and then you also need to buy all the hardware too (as they aren’t WS28xx or similar compatible).


> I’m running ~14k, about 1100 of them from WLED

What are you using for the rest? Another controller or at they static? My ~10k is all individually addressable ws28xx lights (mostly 5V LEDs, but I buck convert immediately before the strips and run back at 24V.

I’ve definitely seen way bigger than both of our setups,


I’ve got a pair of these: https://pixelcontroller.com/store/products/70-f16v4.html on either side of the house - local to where the bulk of the pixels are (2 x megatrees and a matrix). And a couple of recievers out from there to other points.


Thanks for sharing. I'm about to build a 20-30m long installation of LEDs and I've been working out the power distribution needs and such. This site is a perfect resource.


Newbie question: how is this different than using an Arduino + power injection?


Reliability and convenience. Sure, I could easily buy an Arduino, TTL shifters, resisters, fuses, etc etc, or I could buy a DigQuad at $25 or a DigOcta bundle for around $60 and know that all the safeguards were thought of already. In life, there’s only so much time, so you pick how you want to spend it!


I've been toying a lot with this recently.

A tip for anyone that's interested, you can order a compatible LED strip from Ali Express for much cheaper than Amazon, though you're going to wait several weeks. For example, do a search for WS2815 LED Strips and compare.

BTW, if you're doing just single color check out COB LED strips, they're pretty cool with the uniform lighting over the strip. Get them in 24v to avoid voltage drop.

LED Strips are lots of fun to play with and pretty easy to chop up, power and control.


Or look at the SK6812 LED strips. You'll get RGBW, which is perfect for cool looking task lighting


I was just looking at these today - there are three variants with different degrees of white, so might need to check which you are ordering. If they are going to be outside you probably need the IP65 or IP67 rated variants. If you look around on aliexpress you can find both black and white colored strips.

I got started down the rabbit hole when I saw ads for permanent light fixtures for housing. The idea is you install the lights once and then you can use the color changing ability to create appropriate displays for different holidays throughout the year.


I got RGBCCT lights that give me a bunch of control over the white temperature, they're quite nice!


I used WLED to make an RGB LED effect-laden scarf for my wife, and then decided to add the same setup to a Santa hat. Now, as long as one ESP32 can access the other (either over the built-in access point or any shared WiFi network) the effects she chooses on her scarf sync to the brim of my Santa hat :)

I love WLED so hard.


If the ESP32 chips will always be close to each other, you can use ESP-NOW to have them talk to each other without the need for an access point or wifi network.


do you have pictures or a write up about this? sounds very neat!


Any one new to LEDs and trying to learn some basics, Here's 'Secret life of components' by Tim Hunkin[1].

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yvcITqw5iDY


I have a long term project of room lighting that reacts to music. I've gotten my feet wet working with the LED strips already, but hadn't heard of WLED - sounds extremely promising!

Does somebody have an idea whether "real-time" music <-> light sync is feasible with WLED? I plan to have the audio processing happening outside the ESP32, but then I'm still concerned about the bandwidth requirements (driving ~300 NeoPixels), because ideally I don't want to just trigger "discrete" effects but retain full control. I just wonder whether WLED puts any significant overhead in there that I wouldn't run into with something hand-rolled...


WLED has sound reactive plugins for built-in effects. Looks like there's some new stuff in .14 for this as well -- but I haven't followed closely.

Or if you wanted to externalise it completely - it supports DDP/E1.31 -- you could generate the required effect externally - and just send the commands over the network. That should do 40 updates per second for 300 pixels. Ideally send it over ethernet - but you could probably pull it off over a good wifi network.


Thanks for the pointers! After digging a bit more, I found https://github.com/scottlawsonbc/audio-reactive-led-strip which looks like an excellent end-to-end setup that's also easy to explore further from. Can't wait to sink lots of hours into it :D


Have a look at https://www.tindie.com/products/lixielabs/sensory-bridge-an-..., which uses the ESP32-S2, but not WLED as far as I know. I'm a happy customer.


Thanks for the pointer! My own project is primarily about not just visualizing a plain FFT, because it is so far removed from actual music perception, especially as soon as you have more than a single voice/instrument. So while I've grown quite a distaste for the exact thing Sensory Bridge seems to do, I appreciate people hacking in this space, and maybe someone else finds your comment who does enjoy the product :)


Been using WLED for a few years now, it's really a great project. You can take the default build, flash it to an ESP device and get started directly, or integrate it easily into other automation systems and devices easily.

The amount of both features and general professionalism in the interface is really incredible for an ESP-based project.


This is an amazing project and if you like WLED you’ll also like Pixelblaze which is full-stack including a coding interface: https://electromage.com/pixelblaze


I keep intending to reinvent my own controller with an RP2040, but life gets in the way, so for the second year in a row, I’m using a Pixelblaze to control the 950 LEDs on my Christmas tree. It’s a continuous string (well, 19 strands of 50 lights connected), put on the tree in a zigzag pattern and manually mapped to a vaguely triangular 2-D shape. The patterns are mostly as downloaded from the Pixelblaze repository.

I’d highly recommend Pixelblaze for getting a fairly complex setup working quickly.

https://youtu.be/hu-RQx_NpAY


I wish there was a way to flash this to existing hardware. I’ve already got my LEDs running on ESP32s and I’d love to play with it, but I don’t want to have to wait for/pay for international shipping for essentially the same hardware.

Seems like a super cool project though! The effects look really cool and more “organic” than the WLED effects (to me at least), but I think I’ll just need to live vicariously through YouTubers on this one haha


I've used Pixelblaze for five different projects now and I'm extremely happy with it. My projects are all 3D-mapped LED sculptures and Pixelblaze is extremely easy to work with compared to some other controllers which only handle the data for you but leave the signal/pattern generation up to you to solve.


If I wanted to make a programmable LED grid in the least DIY way possible (I know nothing about electronics), would Pixelblaze be a good option?


I think the short answer to your question is yes.

You still have to be able to hook up few wires and you'll need to be able to power your LEDs and understand your power needs there, but the live compilation in web based development platform (that's served by the device, no cloud) makes it really ideal for rapid prototyping and getting up and running quickly. No fussing with Arduino IDE or compile times. It's one of those things that "just works".

If you want to see it in action: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMKltz8ji0k


Yes.


Not sure why this is being promoted today (new release?), but I absolutely love this project. I use esp32 boards to power two strips in the house and another is currently powering my Christmas lights outside. The integration with Home Assistant is awesome. I just this week made the outside lights do a little dance (turn different colours and wave) when the doorbell rings.


Probably because of the release of 0.14 beta1. Here is the announcement from their Discord posted yesterday by Aircookie

~~~

After a way too long time, I am thrilled to finally share the new official beta, 0.14.0-b1, with you, just in time for Christmas! https://install.wled.me/

Don't let yourself be fooled by the beta moniker, this version offers so much more than 0.13

0.14 is such a huge step forward in comparison to 0.13 that there are way too many epic new features and improvements to even start listing here. The two most major additions are native support for 2D matrix panels and effects as well as audio reactivity via usermod!

A huge thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone who contributed to the project in the last year, especially @blazoncek , @softhack007 , @ewowi and the WLED-SR fork team, who together have contributed, if I had to approximate, 90% of the new 0.14 code!


I've been building a project from scratch. Creating closet lights using an ESP32 and W2812B strips. I'm mostly getting myself accustomed to Matter, as I'm more building something that I'll integrate with Google Home.

It's great that this is on HN, I otherwise wouldn't have known about it. Looks like it can take care of the lighting control, and then I can worry about exposing a Rainmaker interface.


Because same people let lights decorations for the last days before Xmas. And the Google search thing might have led them that path. Not that I’d know who said people are.


WLED can also be paired with OpenRGB to control many discrete devices over the network via E1.31. there is also an open source spatial napping plugin for OpenRGB which can be paired with an effects plugin supporting GLSL shaders and even GIF or video feeds. with this combination you can approach the capabilities of proprietary systems which cost easily 20x.


Since it’s Christmas I feel I should post my old addressable LEDs project.

https://youtu.be/Ic_MmhiT8qE


Related:

WLED Arduino WiFi LED Controller - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=29970819 - Jan 2022 (20 comments)


Made a mega comet across our living room window with 2x esp32 and 2x 300 RGBW strips. One in a star 5 points 10 segments. The other strip as a 2 pronged tail on the comet (2 segments) which becomes more wiggly (turbulent) with distance.

This project totally made my Christmas I could spend ages playing with the settings and mixing the right colours & speeds...

Setting the 2 to sync with each other or do their own thing is sooo easy, even my mother in law enjoyed controlling it.

Even a wee 24 rgb LED ring can have cool effects with this superb software


Care to share video?


Recently we built a LED sign for a bar named “Cinque a Zero” like a Campari based cocktail. We used a single Teensy 4.1 + a simple custom board that we designed to drive around 10K RGBW LEDs.

Twitter thread with some background:

https://twitter.com/andreasgysin/status/1472943758467645450?...


That’s such an incredible end result.

I’ve done dozens of WLED projects now for myself and clients, and it never ceases to amaze me the cool stuff people come up with.


So I had a stack of 12v pixel leds I picked up at an amazon returns bin store a while back for $10 for 10 sets of 50 leds. (Normally $120-150)

This was 6 strings (Only 5 visible), a D1 esp 8266 running wled and a 12v power supply. Worked quite well.

https://imgur.com/a/C8BbDVI


I recently started looking for something really close to this, and found this project.... but what I really want is a PoE controller, because my LEDs need power anyway, so why not control them with the same cable? Unfortunately I haven't found a WLED compatible PoE controller.

Anyone know of such a thing?


In case you weren't aware, a long LED strip with a high density of LEDs/m starts chewing up a lot of amps in a hurry depending on the effect. So much so that a lot of people will inject power into either end of the strip or even at multiple points along a length of interconnected strips. Otherwise the current draw causes a voltage drop that dims the LEDs and / or affects their color at the far end.

Lots of WLED people (myself included) run with pretty beefy dedicated 5V supplies and use decently heavy gauge wire to connect to the strips.

I'd recommend going the other way around. Connect to the ESP wirelessly and use a beefy dedicated supply to power both it and the LEDs.


To give an idea of what's possible, I built a "4K" display with addressable LEDs. It was 64 strips of 64 pixels each. There was no need to do any power injection (uniform intensity across the whole board). I did the same as you: beefy dedicated 5V supplies. Even then, I was a bit worried because lighting up the entire display at full power pulled over a kilowatt. The person I gave the LEDs to then reconnecting them into 1 long strip and had to do power injection,.


Thank you, I was aware of this for longer strips. My first project I want to do is my kitchen cabinets, using shorter length led strips. I have 8 cat6 cables running to my kitchen cabinets now for this project, which should be plenty of power for the short runs of LED strips I will be using.

A larger under the roof eaves display would be pretty cool though- will have to carefully look at the power for that if I ever do it.


can you recommend some specific power supplies? I’ve got a project that’s been stalled out for long time because I don’t know the right way to power it


For sure. You don't want to get some dicey supply that might burn your house down. I got a Mean Well LRS-200-5 Switching Power Supply from Mouser (200W at 5V = 40A !!!). Mean Well makes quality supplies at reasonable prices and are a popular brand with the WLED crowd. Be sure to buy the 25cent piece of plastic that snaps over top of the AC terminals so you don't electrocute yourself. And get some inline fuses while you are at it to be on the safe side (unless you are getting something like a QuinLED board that builds that in). You'll also want some terminal to barrel connectors to.

If you want some solid information, Quindor has you covered: https://quinled.info/2018/10/01/tools-and-equipment/


Each WS2812 draws 60mA at full brightness. I have a 32*32 array for 60A, but I only intend to run them at half brightness so I got a 40A supply.


The most you can pull off a PoE switch is usually under 30W. Given you’ll also lose efficiency stepping down the voltage, you might get say a single 5 meter strip powered at best off that PoE connection.


I use PoE adapters that have micro USB power-out plugs. The thing being powered uses either Ethernet or WiFi, depending on what it is.


There are a relatively limited number of PoE ESP32 options. The Olimax unit seems to be workable with WS2812 style strips, possibly with a little bit of hacking.


I got this neopixel ring in a kit and as a non-hardware person it perplexes me how I’m supposed to use it. There’s no mount points. Is the expectation that everyone can design and print parts?

I can wire it up and program it but goodness knows how I actually affix it to my Pololu Romi.


Depending on the placement you’re after you can quite literally hot glue it, or use 3M command tape, or fabricate a little bracket/housing using hobbyist plastics or wood. Hot glue is probably the most common method since if done tidily it’s a strong hold but can be cleanly removed if required.


If you're going down the rabbit hole of addressable LEDs, a great resource is this community-maintained spreadsheet that has a lot of addressable LED info on it called "Addressable LED Controllers, Drivers, and Related Products & Projects"

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/10pHG7_VIVltyqJK1Y0T5...


Funny, just 2 days ago I ordered two RGB LED strips and a power supply to play around with during the holidays. I will definitely check this out, seems to save me some programming :-)


Unfortunately "WLED" is already a term-of-art in the industry, and stands for "white LED", so I can see this causing a lot of confusion in the future. Random example: https://www.analog.com/en/products/max17105.html


I really love this project. Very active developrer/ community and many new features over the years. Also a very helpfull documentation.


Very nice, I have some questions tho - did esp got better than it used to be? I mean - all esp devices i've used had MTBF between 1-2 weeks. And what about zigbee 3.0 - how does it compare to this (from all points of view)?


That definitely doesn't line up with what I've seen, failurewise. One of my ESP-32s has been running pretty much continuously for 3 years without any trouble. And in the past I've had no trouble running multiple for months at a time. The only failures I've had, across maybe 4 different manufacturers, happened when I did something dumb and unintentionally fried a board.


Thanks for a good news!


The only flaky ESP hardware I know of is the ESP-01, which was one of the first boards carrying the ESP8266. It's still available for about $1.50 shipped from AliExpress.

They're hard to program because each one seems to have a different opinion whether this or that GPIO needs to be grounded to start programming mode.

They also can be poorly manufactured. Either the antenna is so bad it works on your desk but not in the next room, or it's just DOA. Fortunately, these are neonatal problems; if it works for 5 minutes, it'll work forever. And when you can get 10 for $15 and toss the three that don't work, it's still a great deal.


Are you maybe overvolting your ESPs? I've had an ESP8266 outdoors (shielded from rain, poorly) for 4 years with no apparent issue.

Running one WLED device is much simpler than Zigbee. If you run more than one, they use UDP to sync over your Wi-Fi. If you have decent Wi-Fi, this will be much easier to set up than Zigbee; if we are talking a more industrial installation, it may not be a good fit.


I dunno if it was overvolted, all were done by someone else. And just realized it was eps8266, not esp32. Also timeline-wise it was about 5 years ago.

ad zigbee - I already have some devices and I strictly wanted to have a complete different network for these. wifi is not an option (for me, at this moment). Just looked up their website, they make an esp32-c6 (risc-v core, wifi+bt+zb), and esp32-h2 (the same but has no wifi).


I think there’s some common-mode failure source in your particular application.

I’ve had several dozen of them running some in vehicles, outside lightly shielded, in a basement, and on my desk. Some are running right off an 18650 with no boost/buck converter. No failures in several years , across low-end cheapest 8266 breakouts and 32s.


I've had my ESP-01 outside in the winter cold for about a week now and one inside running a lava lamp. Remember that it runs off 3.3v, not 5.


I've had really good uptime once I added a capacitor on the power rails. This was onto one of those WEMOS boards and a few others too.


ESP boards are Wifi, Zigbee is a completely different protocol with encryption and mesh capabilities and all that.


Anyone recommend a “beginners starter kit” to start exploring wled stuff? Ie. A board, pa, and smallish or various strip options? Thanks


Personally a fan of Adafruit's Feather boards, their ESP32 Feather can probably use the WLED code as-is, and there's expansions that include all the LEDs already soldered https://www.adafruit.com/product/2945


Can confirm that Huzzah32 runs WLED just fine. Really convenient to have that LiPo battery connector and charging circuit built in, too.


check out the boards made by Quindor. Very solid, very affordable. https://quinled.info

His videos and blog posts are super helpful too!


Check out the Athom box, available on Ali Express:

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005003776848515.html?spm=a2...

It's an all in one with WLED on it. You just need a strip, some wire and a power supply.


Also available from their site with much faster shipping than AliExpress’s Jan 20 (to the US, at least).

https://www.athom.tech/

Happily using this little guy to drive 100 fairy lights (from Adafruit), all from a USB plug.

https://www.athom.tech/blank-1/wled-2812b-led-strip-controll...


Search "ESP RGB" on AliExpress. There's a $2 breakout board for the ESP-01 that makes it really easy to run LED strips. All you have to do it power it with 5V and the board converts it for the ESP.


The 0.14 beta just released which adds support for 2d matrixes. Great bit of software for easily controlling RGB strips.


WLED got me back into programming micro-controller and soldering. Tons of fun to be had at a relatively low cost of entry.


Time to blow up a nodemcu.

Or two.




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