Jan 012021
 

I’ve not done much on our plotter Xmas tree this week because, well… if you follow me on Twitter, it’s likely you’ve seen me ramble on about these crazy new Christmas Tree lights we got for our tree (first tree ever!). I wasn’t able to find appropriate “Christmas Tree” light forms of the WS2812 lights, but Carlyn did! And they were even better than normal Xmas light styles. These were “fairy lights” with small beads of light connected by solid enamel-coated wire that almost disappear visually. The LED string appeared to maybe be WS2812 / Neopixel compatible and yup, they were! But the weird thing was, as I learned was discovered back in November, these LEDs remember their address when cut out of the strand. If you’re familiar with WS2812-style LEDs, this is bonkers. Normally these LEDs have four pins: +5V, Gnd, DataIn, and DataOut. To make an LED strip, the LEDs are wired in a chain, one LED’s DataOut going to next LED’s DataIn. This is great! It means you just have one wire to control hundreds of LEDs!

What’s going on with these LEDs? You cut them up, wire them in parallel (there’s no data “in” and “out”, just “data”) and they still know where they should be in the data stream, only picking the data for them. I’m still researching this with the help of some friends who can navigate Shenzhen better than me, but it’s looking like these LEDs have their address set OTP (one-time programmable) at the factory. No LED part number yet. If you’d like to get some to try yourself, here’s the 100-LED exact Amazon ASIN I bought as well as the 200-LED ASIN Carlyn originally found (both affil links).

Here’s some pics showing the box and how I took it apart to test on an Arduino Micro clone.

  One Response to “WS2812-compatible “fairy light” LEDs that know their address”

  1. omg, thank you, I was just about to cut some of these apart to use in a strand w/ regular ws281x. Will have to experiment… guessing they will appear as “previous strand’s final LED + N” to the software… but what if you stack more vanilla ws281x after the fairy lights? duplicated values? Eeee

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