This is all about controlling Fully Addressable LED Lights using any Espressif ESP32 or ESP8266 Development Board and your mobile phone all through WIFI! All possible by WLED Project.


Hey gang, Tim here at Core Electronics and we're setting up fully addressable LEDs, controllable through Wi-Fi and our phone, using an ESP32 development board. All possible by WLED. This app works with absolutely any ESP32 or ESP8622 Wi-Fi boards. Link in the description for an article comparing these two low-power, low-cost, power-cyclable Wi-Fi chips. And you can control many, many of these Wi-Fi boards simultaneously, all through this single open source application.

WLED can be found for free both in the Google Play Store or in the iOS App Store. So no matter your smartphone of choice, you can get in on the action. On the table is everything you need to get started with this. Any ESP32 or ESP8266 development board is going to work. There is an abundance of these boards that you can use. Here I have an ESP32 Thing Plus C. You're going to be controlling this either through a computer or via a smartphone. So you're going to want one of those as well. You're also going to want a USB cord so that way we can put power into the system and some fully addressable LEDs. Depending on how many LEDs you may want to use, you may want to have a secondary 5 volt power supply for the LED strip so that way there is enough current available to each of the LEDs.

So let's jump into a computer and get started. We're going to start by installing the software to our chosen little dev board. WLED has a website that will do all the hard work for us. You're going to need to use desktop Chrome or Edge as these are the only browsers currently supported. And type and enter directly into it the following, It will then open up to a page like so. At this point, let's connect our ESP32 board to the computer using any USB port. Make sure it's connected correctly and appears in the COM port list of devices. If it does not appear, check the troubleshooting section of the WLED website.

We have now completed the installation process for the ESP32. To begin, we clicked on the install button using the most up-to-date version and selected the correct COM port. The installation process took less than five minutes.

Next, we provided the ESP32 with local Wi-Fi details. We gave it a hard reset by pulling power from it and plugging it back in. Then we reconnected our phone or computer to the desired Wi-Fi. After a couple of seconds, we were able to see WLED as a device that had connected to the internet system.

When we opened the WLED app, it looked empty. We clicked on the plus symbol to open up the discovery page and pressed start discovery. This searched through all of our Wi-Fi for all the boards running WLED software. Once it said found WLED, we pressed the tick button on the top right. This brought us back to the homepage where we had a list of all the WLED boards on our network.

By clicking anywhere on the header, we were able to open up a phenomenal light setting section of the app. We were able to control the onboard addressable LED directly using this setup. As we changed the color selected by pressing on the color wheel, it changed the multi-status LED to match.

To control 30 LEDs, we had to connect the ESP32 to the addressable LEDs.

Like the schematic, the black wire is ground, the red wire is positive, and the green wire is the data pin. The easiest way to get this connection for this particular board was by soldering headers to the board and then adding DuPont connectors to the end of the strip. With power to the system, you should be getting light through your attached LEDs. If you haven't, jump into the app and double check by pressing the power button, turning up the brightness slider all the way, clicking on the config setting and double checking that your data pin is selected as number four. Also, while you're there, write down the amount of LEDs you have connected as it will make the effects look better.

Now that we have remotely activated, fully operational, fully addressable LEDs, we can explore what is on offer with the WLED software. The user interface has a simple power button that will turn the lights on or off, but not the ESP32 board. There is also a timer button so we can organize and schedule when we want to see the LEDs come on and off. The sync button means other lights in our network will have the same kind of light effects be occurring. There is an info button giving us details about the board and setup. Below this is a general brightness slider. There is also a color wheel, including a contrast and color tweak bars and the ability to select multiple different colors that is for use with the effects and segments.

Clicking on the effects button at the bottom will take you to a new deeper page with an awesome and long list of effects that can all be customized from speed, intensity and colors. Clicking on the segments button will open up a new deeper page, allowing you to decide exactly what parts of your LED strip are going to be affected by the effects.

Lighting up your projects has never been easier with WLED. With this amazing app, you can easily see which parts of your project are lit up and which parts are not. Exploring the expansive lighting options is the most fun part. As an example, I created a custom light show in less than a minute by adding two segments and choosing three custom colors for each of them, as well as two different effects. Creating this exact pattern would be significantly harder to code from first principles than it is to use this brilliant app.

Not only strips will work with WLED, any NeoPixel or Glowbit module is literally plug and play. As an example, I've set up an eight by eight Glowbit matrix by plugging in the ESP32 board and setting it up in the application to have eight unique segments. I then added a rainbow colors effect to each of them.

It's now up to you to experiment to your heart's content. If you need any help on any project, come pop our amazing team a message on our Core Electronics forum. We are full-time makers and here to help. Until next time, stay cool.



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