For those of Adafruit who are maybe a little tired of rainbows, Adafruit now have 'smart LEDs' in monochrome! Make your own smart Warm White LED arrangement with the same integrated LED driver that is used in Adafruit's new fancy DotStar strips. Unlit, the color resembles an egg yolk. Lit up these are insanely bright (like ow my eye hurts) and can be controlled with 24 bit high-frequency PWM. The phosphor helps diffuse the 3 white dies inside together for a very bright but consistant light, compared to what you get by trying to mix RGB to make white (which never quite looks right)
This tiny 5050 (5mm x 5mm) SMD LED is fairly easy to solder and is the most compact way possible to integrate multiple bright LEDs to a design. If you want to prototype with these, Adafruit recommend Adafruit's 5050-size LED breakout PCBs, solder them on for a breadboard-friendly package
They're also a great upgrade for people who have loved and used NeoPixels for a few years but want to use the same kind of technology for monochromatic lighting. DotStar LEDs use generic 2-wire SPI, so you can push data much faster than with the NeoPixel 800 KHz protocol and there's no specific timing required. They also have much higher PWM refresh rates, so you can do Persistence-of-Vision (POV) and have less flickering, particularly at low brightness levels.
Like NeoPixels, DotStar LEDs are 5050-sized LEDs with an embedded microcontroller inside the LED. You can set the brightness of each of 3 individual cool white dies epoxied into the case. Each LED acts like a shift register, reading incoming data on the input pins, and then shifting the previous data out on the output pin. By sending a long string of data, you can control an infinite number of LEDs, just tack on more or disconnect unwanted LEDs at the end. The PWM is built into each LED-chip so once you set the brightness you can stop talking to the strip and it will continue to PWM all the LEDs for you.
Another nice thing about DotStars is their high PWM rate. You only have to set the brightness data for each pixel LED once, and then the LED+built-in-chip will handle the PWMing. On NeoPixels, this PWM rate happens 400 Hz, which works well but is noticably at lower brightnesses and if the strip is moving in any way. DotStars have a 20 KHz PWM rate, so even when moving the LED around, you won't see the pixelation, the blending is very smooth.
Comes in a package with 10 individual LEDs.
Adafruit have a tutorial showing wiring, power usage calculations, example code for usage, etc. for DotStars Please check it out! Please note that the tutorial and code talk about RGB, but of course, this LED is just WWW, three individual white LEDs instead.
The manufacturer of the APA102C smart LED used in this strip used to be GRB order, and has changed in 2015 to have BRG color order. This means if you are using Adafruit's DotStar library, you'll need to change the initialization to tell it which you are using. Check the tutorial for details on how to do this! The LED colors are otherwise identical, you just have to pipe the data to it in a slightly different order.
- Single LED: 5mm x 5mm / 0.2" x 0.2"
- Adafruit don't have any more specifics about this particular LED other than it is ~3000K color temp and seems to have 3 white LEDs in place of the normal Red/Green/Blue
Documentation and Resources:
- What Are DotStar LEDs?
So in case you haven’t heard yet, digital LEDs are the go-to solution for any project that uses RGB LEDs and you want to avoid the rat's nest that ensures when using multiple RGB LEDs, each colour requiring its own connection. Digitally address...
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