Over 16 Million Unique Colors
Addressable RGB LEDs gives engineers over 16 million color choices to create virtually any light display imaginable
Individually Programmable LEDs
Each LED is individually programmed, giving engineers unlimited flexibility to choose color and timing of LED firing
Ultimate Control Over LED Display
Fully customizable LED units mean engineers can control every aspect of their LED display
How Addressable LEDs are Different
A commonly used form of LED lights is the 3 channel LED strip, which has three different ground circuits and a shared voltage. Each unique ground channel controls a different color of light, either red, green, or blue. By changing the resistance on those channels, engineers can adjust the color and brightness to display their desired colors. However, since 3 channel LEDs share a common set of data, the entire strip of LEDs will display the same color at the same time.
On the other hand, individually addressable LEDs contain data on the LED level instead of the strip level. Each LED light can be individually programmed to show a different color, which is accomplished by adjusting each LED’s individual brightness. The color can vary on every LED that shares a strip. Each LED contains a microcontroller chip that allows the user to directly control the color and timing of the individual LED.
When to Use Addressable RGB LEDs
3 channel LED strips remain a great option for product developers who don’t require LEDs on the same strip to display different colors, or who are on a limited budget. Those who are looking for a high-tech, multi-colored, and interactive solution should consider individually addressable RGB LEDs in their product.
How Addressable RGB LEDs Work
Each LED contains a microchip with a positive voltage wire, a ground, and a data wire. On the strip, LEDs are labeled as LED0, LED1, LED2, and so on. Each LED needs to have specific instructions about what to do and when.
Developers create a program through the microcontroller’s PMW signal (pulse, width, modification) that instructs the LEDs on what color to display and when, following a DO (data input pin) structure. LED0 reads and follows the instructions programmed for LED0, and then passes the data onto LED1, which reads and follows the instructions for LED1, and then passes on the data to LED2, and so on, until each LED has received specific instructions. This creates a light display of multiple colors concurrently.
Creating Color with Addressable RGB LEDs
The RGB method uses a combination of red, green, and blue light to create color. Addressable LEDs can display over 16 million unique colors through a blend of their red, green, and blue components at 255 different levels of brightness. Outputs are combined from red, green, and blue to create the desired color. While most colors are possible using this method, it’s important to note that some fall out of the scope of RGB capabilities.
A new innovation has been brought to the RGB LED method, called WRGB (or RGB +W), which is a standard RGB LED with an added white (W) LED, which adds an additional chip to the LED strip. While a WRGB LED allows more color flexibility than an RGB LED, it also comes at a higher cost. For basic RGB colors with no requirement for a proper white, a standard RGB LED strip is generally more cost-effective.
An additional difference between WRGB and RGB LEDs is the controller. The WRGB controller has five outputs, one for each color (red, green, blue, and white) and one for power. The RGB controller only requires four outputs. It also requires a different PMW signal to control the white in an RGB LED.
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