An upcoming “Ugly Christmas Sweater” party was the perfect opportunity to build my first real Arduino project using NeoPixels, the RGB LED strips from Adafruit. I learned a lot on this simple project that I thought might help other beginners.
The Arduino sketch code is broken up into multiple files and is object-oriented to make it easier to understand and extend. I used sketch tabs, .cpp, and .h files
I used the FastLED library instead of the Adafruit NeoPixel library for more variety in light patterns and better control over the color palette. It also supports other kinds of LED strips, so experience with this will help with other lighting projects in the future.
I used a coding pattern that supports multitasking the Arduino, and combining multiple light patterns with each other.
I moved the project from breadboard to “ProtoShield” and learned about using protoboards and perfboards to permanently connect components.
Note: Also, I made several decisions that I later regretted and I’ve put those in italics. Avoid my mistakes and make your own.
Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.
Have an amazing project to share? The Electronics Show and Tell is every Wednesday at 7pm ET! To join, head over to YouTube and check out the show’s live chat – we’ll post the link there.