Beautiful Christmas tree Lighting this year

Cheap RGB lighting

Just a quick one but I thought this was worth sharing. I just bought some new “external use” RGB LED STRIP from AliExpress. Not your usual 5450 strip and not the popular copper wire strip with VERY THIN coated copper wire and very small LEDS – no, this seems to be a good compromise – the LEDs as you’ll see in the video are fully programmable – you can buy in varying legths and with varying number of LEDs per metre.

See the image and video to get an idea of the flexibility and thickness of the wiring. No adhesive on this strip but then the adhesive on tandard LED strip is all but useless anyway. Look for installations whwre people haven’t realised this (Newcastle Airport in the UK is an example – last time I looked) for otherwise neat, hidden wall edge displays with pieces falling away.

3 insulated wires – needing 5vDC and a port signal in – I control the LEDs here with the free and excellent WLED software which can be put onto an ESP8266 or ESP32 easily using their WEB Installer. Given a USB-powered ESP12 board of which there are many (AliExpress has lots – no need here for the more powerful and slightly more expensive ESP32 boards), go to the WLED Web Installer and press INSTALL.

WLED INSTALLER

At this point you do not have your ESP board plugged into your PC’s USB… so it’s PORT will not show up. Plug in the board to any of your PC’s available USB connectors and a new port should appear. If not, there are instructions on that web page to take you further.

Select the port and run INSTALL. You can run WLED there and then or give it the name and password of your WiFi and from then on you can plug the board into a more powerful external USB hub or USB power supply (the board takes next to no power but a load of LEDS WILL). I’m running a strip of 192 LEDs (remember these are RGB so there are 3 times that number of actual outputs) from a modern 3 AMP USB supply. My 5m long strip (2.5cm spacing) cost ā‚¬14.18 all-in. The same at 1.5cm spacing would have cost under ā‚¬20 etc. You can of course buy different lengths – and being serial LEDs you can cut at any point along the wire (carefully).

WLED running on new flexible RGB LED strip

FAR more info is available on the WLED site. In summary: on the WLED setup page, you tell it which port bit you are connected to (one option is D4 i.e. GPIO2) and how many LEDS (192 in my case) in your strip. Then under EFFECTS you can choose from MANY different effects and the LEDs should now start running your desired effect – all on a easy-to-use menu. THAT’s IT. The initial install is best done on a PC but once you know the IP address your board is sitting at, a phone web browser will do to play with effects, brilliance, speed and much more.

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8 thoughts on “Beautiful Christmas tree Lighting this year

  1. I read you have a 5m strip with 2.5 cm spacing. In the video it seems you power the strip from the ESP/NodeMCU? Is that correct?

    1. That was quick, Rogan, I’m only just finishing the article as we speak!

      Yes they do seem similar – and yes you could use an ESP32 if you have one handy – way overkill in my example as the ESP8266 works a treat but for anyone buying a board now the price difference is minimal and possibly if I go for a much longer string, the ESP32 could be beneficial. My lights are WS2811 – not totally sure of the difference… anyway I know both work with WLED and of course it has FAR more mode control than those IR controllers.

      Ok I checked – yes – Amazon.es for example
      https://amzn.to/46N9PaK

      My AliExpress purchase was 5m (16ft) but 192 LEDs…

      Not suer why in your ad they only show the CYAN colour – I’m not sure which of the options you went for…. it SEEMS like the full colour 200 LED version is $33 ??

      Feel free to expand on that… šŸ™‚

      1. The Brizlabs strings have been available for a few years already, guess it is nice to see that there are more options using the same style, although Iā€™d love to see them on more flexible wire. These are almost inevitably going to get twisted and kinked, and damaged, unless you are very careful how you roll and unroll them!

        Fwiw, 20m is an almost perfect length for my Christmas tree, which stands 2.5m tall!

        Oh, something to point out is the setting in WLED to limit total power consumption based on the rating of your power supply. Nice when you only have a 1A usb supply handy.

        1. And the version of the Brizlabs lights that I got was around $22 for a 20m string of fully RGB lights. I’m not sure why they show a solid colour when they are fully capable of individual colours. Obviously a fully addressable string CAN be a solid colour, but the reverse is not always true. Just silly marketing, IMO.

        2. Yes, for anyone looking in a WLED for the first time (I’ve been using it for ages and as of last week have a 64*8 2D array showing “Merry Christmas Ho Ho Ho!”) – it’s as well to check out the LED settings properly – maximum overall current, default brilliance etc…there’s a lot in there and though LEDs are generally marketed as POWER SAVING – not it you have hundreds of them šŸ™‚

          I’m currently my first set using a USB hub which can put out 3A per outlet. Indeed as a general principle, some time ago I binned my old 0.5A, 1A etc USB plug-in-the-walls and generally think of 2.5A as normal – with QC and PD USB for our phones…. but that’s a whole other conversation šŸ™‚

          Right that’s it, I’m off to get another set… when the weather starts to go off in November you can’t beat lots of pretty coloured lights to improve the mood… šŸ™‚

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