Andruino Nano 33 BLE as LED controller

Hi everybody,

I’m a reasonably experienced software developer but this is my first adventure into hardware. The last time I touched a soldering iron was in high school and I spent most of my time making solder balls on the workbench.

My partner is wanting to build a handheld motion-controlled light (think shake to turn on and change brightness/color) in something the size of a 250ml drink can or thereabouts. I’ve had Andruino suggested as the control board and based on some light review of the options the Nano 33 BLE seems like a good option as it has an IMU built-in.

Next, I was looking at LED options something RGB(W), addressable and low/no solder is needed.
Given the size constraints, a NeoPixel Stick seems like a good option but I’m not sure the Arduino Nano 33 BLE can power it directly?

Lastly, power is something that I’m having a lot of trouble with my initial thought was to just use a little USB battery and run the Nano off that and the LEDs off the Nano? If I can’t manage that I’m guessing I’ll need separate power for both or can they share a battery either in series or parallel?

Thanks in advance for any advice, nothing above is set in stone if there’s a simpler solution that can fit the brief I’m happy to explore it.



There should be no need for 2 supplies: The LEDS can be driven from the same supply as the MCU. If it’s a 5V supply then you drive the Nano BLE from the USB port… You then use use a logic level shifter between the Nano and a 5v LED module, although a simple resistor divider would work just as well. If you use a 3.3V supply then you would drive the Nano BLE through VIN and connect direct to a 3.3V LED module. In either case, if you are not using modules for the LEDs you can use a dropping resistor. Your power supply can be either a module with battery, charger and regulator, or you can use a battery with separate regulator and expose the battery connections for use with an external charger.


Hi Steve,

LED options something RGB(W), addressable and low/no solder is needed.

Check out our GlowBit sticks:

They have new WS2812v5s that are more efficient than older WS2812s, so they are better in battery-powered projects.

You’ll need to solder 3 connections total between your microcontroller and strip, but that should be it.

If you’re looking to avoid soldering entirely, our piicodev line-up uses polarised connectors that don’t require soldering and help prevent wiring errors:

Another added bonus is that it features a LiPo charger in the expansion board, so you could use that for portable power, though you may have trouble with idle power consumption.

You may also want to look into vibration sensors if you wanna simplify things a bit:

Let us know if this gives you more questions :slight_smile:


Thanks, Jeff and James.
I’d looked at the GlowBit briefly but gathered it wasn’t out-of-the-box compatible with the Nano 33 but I may have misinterpreted the description.
The Rasberry Pi Pico looks like a really good option when paired with the accelerometer breakout and led module or glowbit module.

What battery would you recommend Jeff? Overall run time doesn’t need to be huge as it’s more of a prototype project but it does need to sit with the LEDs off but the controller and accelerometer running to detect being picked up.


There are any number of different batteries that will suit, depending on how much capacity you need. The actual design question is the recharging and regulating. If you go the pico route then it’s all done for you in one add-on module:

A similar option for any 5V MCU and removable rechargeable AA batteries:

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This is probably a good starting point.
It takes you through most of the hardware and software to get it working.
Highly recommend the RPi Pico, easy to use and program using Thonny and Python.

Mounting the Pico on this allows easy connection of a LiPo battery and connection to an I2C device.
It has a built in charge IC for the LiPo.
The Glowbit would be connected to the LiPo for power.

This device can be used to detect shaking etc. I2C interface. (cheapest that will do the job)

Just a few ideas. Highly recommend the tutorial as a start.