The Paper Project

G’day. A new path has opened in front of me. I am stopped waiting for parts to complete the crane project so I started messing about with the laser cutting coloured paper and putting the images in front of coloured leds. 3.34 min

If you got through that and saw the box at the other end you may notice it has room to put leds front and rear.
Which brings me to the reason for this post. I believe that WS2812B addressable leds will be my best option to use in this project. Ultimately I would like to use the 30 LEDs m tape and would need about 1 metre front and rear. So some questions.
Will an arduino control two sets of 30 WS2812B leds?
Can I set up a system, possibly Putty, where I could type in the values for each of 60 leds?
Of course there are more questions but I really need to know the first two answers before I can proceed.
Thanks for your interest.


Hi Doonie,

Welcome back to the forum :slight_smile:

Those light boxes are looking great!

WS2812B lights are great because all you need is one digital output pin to drive more LEDs that you would ever need. The tricky part is typically providing enough power for all the LEDs.

The best guide I’ve seen so far for WS2812B LEDs is Adafruit’s NeoPixel Uberguide (NeoPixel and GlowBits are trade names for very similar LEDs)

There is a library available for just about any microcontroller you would want to use the LEDs with.

Controlling the LEDs remotely via Putty is a bit trickier, some libraries like WLED are designed around remote operation but not all will support it.
We have a guide to using WLED on the ESP microcontrollers.

EDIT: NeoPixels and Glowbits aren’t ways exactly the same chips and may have slightly different voltage ranges, some NeoPixel products may also be similar WS2811 chips.


Awesome information. I will check out both of those tutorials on the morrow. I have a couple of esp32 here so I should be able to get right into it.
Thanks heaps.


Welp. I am done and dusted. I cannot get my esp32 to respond to or connect with the wled app. The app says it has found the esp32 but nothing happens between them. There are two seperate green lights showing on my test strip of 12. I have another esp 32 but it won’t connect to the internet.

You can check this thread: ESP32 loads properly, but WLED-AP does not transfer to WiFi - #18 by mjg1088 - Issues - WLED
You can also raise your issue here: Issues · Aircoookie/WLED · GitHub

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Thanks. I persisted and started all over again. Am now successfully hooked up to two esp 32s and the project is rolling again.


Yep, rolling, to a stop. Do the esp32s need to be connected to a computer full time? I would have thought that once the info was loaded onto the ESP and had connected to WLED, any further information would be delivered by wifi from WLED. I have built a box with the two ESPs mounted there in, a continuous 5 v supply connected. I have a capacitor at the point mounted between 5v and gnd, the right way round. Each esp is powered from the 5v in and the two signals wires have a resister soldered into the line. Then there are to power and two grounds out with the signals, connected to the lights. The lights are on but WLED can’t find them.


Are you sure you have nominated the correct GPIO port in the Config\LED Preferences\Led Output setting? There is no need to have the ESP connected to the computer after the program is loaded and running. If you have two ESP then you will have a URL or each one, and I presume an instance of WLED for each one (I haven’t tried that). Note that if you reboot the ESP then WLED needs to be restarted, as it thinks that the connection has been dropped. For my setup WLED runs equally well from the desktop or the tablet, but I note that there is a comment re doing the configuration from the desktop as the preferred option.


G’day Jeff, good to hear from you again. I will try that. Are you interested in a zoom thing so that you can see what is going on, if my attempts fail?

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I have tested WLED with two ESPs (12e and NodeMCU) and two sets of LEDS (32x1 and 5x5) and it works like I expected. The two ESPs configure to different URLs and each URL can be accessed and configured separately. Neither ESP is connected to the PC. I have tried it with both controlled from the PC and with one controlled from the PC and the other from the tablet. There is some oddity with selecting a pattern - both devices respond to one of the URL addresses while the other is separate. The result is that changes have to be made in a particular order.

I still think that the problem is likely to be with the GPIO selection. Note that WLED talks entirely in terms of GPIO number whereas the ESP can be labelled differently. For instance, the 12E used ‘GPIO14’ for the ESP and WLED, while NodeMCU was ‘D4/TXD1’ on the board and ‘GPIO2’ in WLED.


Thanks Jeff. I have to revisit this problem but my immediate solution is to simplify that which I am trying to achieve.

Previously I wanted everything, now I will be temporarily satisfied with choosing one colour and the brightness thereof. With the picture above, I did that by pasting a cut out of a whale onto white paper and then lighting it from behind. It took me a while to figure out how to do that but the result is pretty good. Now what I need is a cheap method of controlling colour and brightness on individual projects. I am using (at the moment) a push button infra red thingy with a $24 chinese controller. It is fraught with problems and not the way I want to go. I would prefer wifi and using an app on my phone but cannot as yet find a cheap simple way to do that. I have about twenty of these things at various stages of progress and wish to hold an exhibition at my local art gallery eventually. I am building each box with a 12 volt inlet connected to a 12 volt outlet on the other side so that I can use one 240 v powered source by connecting one picture to another. I then draw power off the incoming side to feed whatever is going on in the box. I am desperate to find cheap wifi controllers that can all be controlled by one device. Any ideas?

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Hi Geoffrey,

Looks great!
Were you still using WS281x LEDs or have you shifted to analog LEDs?

There won’t be very many customisable off-the-shelf products that can control 20* 3 channels of LEDs (20 frames * 3 channels, RGB = 60 total IO)

How often will you have to change the brightness and colour? And is using WiFi essential?

In terms of price, ease of setup and time spent making sure everything works the $24 controllers are most likely the best option.

If you were looking to DIY something I’d check out the Pico W/ESP32 and use MOSFET’s to control the brightness(if you are using analog strips).

  • Each Pico has 8 PWM controllers with 2 channels, giving 5 ‘RGB controllers’ per Pico - so you’ll need at least 4 Pico’s and all of the artworks will have to be relatively close as to reduce voltage drop
  • Some extra hardware will be required, each Pico will have to be hooked up to 15 FETs and supporting resistors, to keep everything robust I’d suggest grabbing a cheap router to connect everything to
  • I’ve dabbled in getting a webpage displaying from a single Pico though haven’t connected a range of them together, this might result in having to communicate to each ‘set’ of artworks to control their RGB channels (5 at a time)

If you’re keen on the Pico, I’d check out Homestation, with some modification it lets you connect to a webpage and set the RGB value of a WS2812 strip, I’d be happy reworking a bit of the software to change to PWM though I don’t have access to 5 analog strips

Here’s a guide on how to wire everything together: Usage | RGB LED Strips | Adafruit Learning System
And use PWM on the Pico:

I am using SMD 5050 RGB 60 leds per metre. I only need to be able to select a colour and brightness at this stage of my progress.

Picher.pdf (8.5 KB

I dunno if you can see this. Each box is powered from the previous box with a 240v supply giving 12v at 2300 ma Each box has it’s own lights and gizmo. Probably no more than 25 leds perbox. Total ten boxes so 250 leds or 4 metres of leds. Should be able to handle that. Once each box is set there should be no need to change anything. S I just need inexpensive led controllers, preferably wifi because the infra red thingy is behind the picture.

Any of the ESP8266 or ESP32 devices will work. If you get a type that doesn’t have built-in USB, such as ESP01, then you need to buy (or make) a programmer, but each one will be very inexpensive. Then set them up with OTA, and connect each one over WiFi. Re-program as required using OTA and Arduino IDE, and control them from the phone or tablet or desktop. Each one is controlled via its own web page, which is a bit messy, but you can create a series of shortcuts in a folder (or apps page on the phone) so that you can select them by name or number - quite effective if you aren’t making frequent changes.

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