LED Strip with built-in lightshows, controllable via wired photon

I’m looking to build a project with an LED strip that I can control via a photon. I don’t want to write the lightshow code itself, and I’d prefer to use a strip/controller that has premade lightshows, like the ones on Amazon that come with a remote control.

I could use exactly those strips and simulate the remote with an IR emitter to pulse the remote codes. But, even better would be a controller that has some kind of wired input that I can connect directly into the photon (USB, some kind of serial protocol…something like that). Using the IR emitter seems kind of hacky.

In other words, what I want is a connection that allows me to send a signal for “turn on”, “play lightshow 1”, “play lightshow 2”, and so forth. This is in contrast to controlling the individual LEDs and writing the lightshows myself.

Does this make sense? Any suggestions on LED strips and controllers that allow this?

Maybe I’m just thinking about it wrong and the correct approach is to find a Processing library that has a bunch of pre-built shows that I can just call.

If that’s the new route, check out the FastLED library. There’s also a website with documentation for it.

1 Like

@micahwedemeyer @ninjatill has suggested FastLED library, however, you said you did not want to get into coding the lightshow sequences and wanted to interface to the LED controller. Your idea of emulating the IR codes from the remote isn’t a bad one but it depends upon how complicated the IR coding is and which coding is used - this could take you a while to figure out. There are libraries for IR - https://build.particle.io/libs/IRremote/0.0.3.

In the case of opening the controller box and hard wiring - without the schematic for the controller PCB this will be difficult and I would guess you will find a microcontroller in the LED strip control box.

Something simpler might be to build your own but use the neopixel library https://build.particle.io/libs/neopixel/0.0.13.

I put together a quick solution using Blynk https://build.particle.io/libs/blynk/0.5.0 whilst helping a friend’s son for his Design & Technology A Level project. This allows you to control the LED strip from an app (Blynk) on your phone and the project tutorial (I can’t find reference at this time but try search on Hackster) includes some predefined sequences - colour fades and transitions. He then decided that was too complicated and bought a philips hue LED strip and controller! I hope you don’t get put off.

Thanks for the suggestions. I’ve done some more research and found:

I’m leaning more and more toward the ALA/FastLED approach where I import a library and use the pre-made shows in it. That approach gives me the flexibility to add my own shows if I want, plus it’s roughly the same amount of work. Instead of “play lightshow 1” being sent to the remote receiver via IR, it’s “play lightshow 1” being sent to the Arduino library.

Note: I may need to do some fancy wiring depending on how many LEDs I’m driving from the Arduino(ish) microcontroller, due to power draw requirements.

And, if the do-it-via-Arduino route doesn’t work for some reason, I can handle it with the IR emitter and remote codes.