These LED strips are fun and glowy. There are 32 RGB LEDs per meter, and you can control each LED individually! Yes, that's right, this is the digitally-addressable type of LED strip. You can set the color of each LED's red, green and blue component with 7-bit PWM precision (so 21-bit color per pixel). The LEDs are controlled by shift-registers that are chained up down the strip so you can shorten or lengthen the strip. Only 2 digital output pins are required to send data down. The PWM is built into each chip so once you set the color you can stop talking to the strip and it will continue to PWM all the LEDs for you.
We used to carry the HL1606 chipset LED strip - this is the most common strip you'll find being made. The good news about the HL1606 is that it is low cost and well understood. The bad news is that the HL1606 doesn't have PWM which means you can only set the LEDs on or off. If you want any more colors than that you have to write to the strip by hand to PWM it - a big pain and requires a lot of CPU and doesn't look as good as it ought to! We wanted to upgrade the strip so we had the factory make us an upgraded version using the LPD8806. This chip has built in 1.2 MHz high speed 7-bit PWM for each channel - that means it can do 21-bit color per LED (way more than the eye can easily discern). Once you set the brightness level for the LEDs, your microcontroller can go off and do other things, no need to continuously update it, or clock it. The best part is that compared to the WS2801 which can only run one LED at a time, this chip can drive 2 RGB LEDs which means the price stays the same as the older HL1606 strip, nice!
The strip is made of flexible PCB material, and comes with a weatherproof sheathing. You can cut this stuff pretty easily with wire cutters, there are cut-lines every 2.5"/6.2cm (2 LEDs each). Solder to the 0.1" copper pads and you're good to go. Of course, you can also connect strips together to make them longer, just watch how much current you need! We have a 5V/2A supply that should be able to drive 1 or more meters (depending on use) and a 5V/10A supply that can drive 5 meters (or more, if you are not lighting up all the LEDs at once) You must use a 5V DC power supply to power these strips, do not use higher than 6V or you will destroy the entire strip
They come in 5 meter reels with a 4-pin JST SM connector on each end. These strips are sold by the meter! If you buy 5m at a time, you'll get full reels with two connectors. If you buy less than 5m, you'll get a single strip, but it will be a cut piece from a reel which may or may not have a connector on it.
To wire up these strips we suggest picking up some JST SM plug and receptacle cables. If you want to connect to the input of a 5 meter cable (to wire it to power and a microcontroller) please use the plug connector. If you want to connect to the output, use the receptacle cable. If you are getting a less-than-5 meter strip, you'll probably want one plug and receptacle set to make it easy to connect and disconnect.
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