Physical computing – RGB LED strip tutorial

Programmable APA102C RGB LED strip with FastLED

Learn how to make an Aurora Borealis effect. Northern Lights. How to realise timed animations with APA102C or NeoPixel RGB LED strips using the FastLED Arduino library and gradient palettes.

Length 00:06:26

This tutorial explains how to set up a programmable RGB LED strip for an effect with independent colour and brightness transition by coding; the example is a very slow aurora borealis lighting effect, depending on a gradient palette you can specify yourself or grab online via palette knife. A solution that can be changed to simulate light passing through clouds or any other very subtle natural looking light modulation by simply specifying another gradient palette and changing the timings.

While the electronic circuit is usually very straightforward, the “magic” in physical computing projects happens always in the code. So, please see the GitHub link to the BOM, the schematic, and extensively commented code that you can easily adapt and recycle in your own projects. Often, there’s a useful code concept or code snippet that you can use for an entirely different design, because it’s a fundamental principle.

If you want to learn about good soldering, this seven minute vintage video is still the best of them all.