Making addressable LED like the WS2812 (aka NeoPixel) using only discrete transistors #NeoPixel

Tim’s Blog asks what would it take to build an addressable LED like the WS2812 (aka NeoPixel) using only discrete transistors? Time for a small “1960 style logic meets modern application” technology fusion project.

What exactly do we want to build? The diagram above shows how a system with our design would be set up. We have a microcontroller with a single data output line. Each “Pixel” module has a data input and a data output than can be used to connect many devices together by “daisy chaining”.

This is basically how the WS2812 works. To simplify things a bit, I had to make some concessions compared to the original WS2812:

  • Each Pixel controls only a single LED that can be either turned on or off instead using pulse width modulation to allow greyscale (This can be implemented on the controller)
  • Since only one bit of information is needed to turn the LED on or off, each LED will only accept a single bit of data.
  • The LED will be immediately updated upon receipt of data, instead of latching only during “reset”.
  • We don’t implement signal retiming of the data output. The data input will be buffered and directly forwarded to the output. This will lead to degradation of the signal timing after a while, but it is sufficient to control a few LEDs in cascade.

Read more on the blog post here

Learn more about NeoPixels on Adafruit here.

As 2022 starts, let’s take some time to share our goals for CircuitPython in 2022. Just like past years (full summary 2019, 2020, and 2021), we’d like everyone in the CircuitPython community to contribute by posting their thoughts to some public place on the Internet. Here are a few ways to post: a video on YouTub, a post on the CircuitPython forum, a blog post on your site, a series of Tweets, a Gist on GitHub. We want to hear from you. When you post, please add #CircuitPython2022 and email to let us know about your post so we can blog it up here.

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, 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.

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