Control Your NeoPixel LEDs with WLED and XIAO ESP32 MCUs

Exciting news! 3 of our XIAO ESP32 microcontrollers (XIAO ESP32C3, XIAO ESP32S3 and XIAO ESP32S3 Sense) are now compatible with WLED, the popular open-source software for controlling NeoPixel LED strips (WS2812B, WS2811, WS2813, SK6812).

If you’re a DIY enthusiast or a professional developer looking to enhance your LED lighting projects, there’s some exciting news for you! Our Application Engineer Team just confirmed that 3 of our XIAO ESP32 microcontrollers (XIAO ESP32C3, XIAO ESP32S3 and XIAO ESP32S3 Sense) are now compatible with WLED, the popular open-source software for controlling LED strips. This update opens up a plethora of possibilities for creators and innovators looking to combine efficient control with compact hardware solutions.

What is WLED?

Before we dive into the specifics of the new support, let’s discuss what WLED is and why it’s a game-changer in the world of LED lighting. WLED stands for Web Light Emitting Diode, and it’s an advanced, open-source software application designed for controlling NeoPixel LED strips and matrices (WS2812B, WS2811, WS2813, SK6812)) and SPI chipsets (WS2801 and APA102) through ESP8266/ESP32 microcontroller units-powered web servers. 

It offers a rich set of features including over 100 special effects and 50 color palettes through its integration with the WS2812FX library and FastLED. Users can manage settings via either a mobile app or a web interface, and configure different segments to display varied effects and colors. WLED supports multiple control interfaces such as MQTT, Blynk IoT, JSON and HTTP APIs, and is compatible with voice commands through Alexa and synchronization with smart lights. It caters up to 250 user presets for easy customization and includes a nightlight function and full OTA software updates. Moreover, it also features native integration with Home Assistant, enhancing smart home automation by allowing users to seamlessly control their lighting setups alongside other smart devices.

Why XIAO ESP32?

The XIAO ESP32 is a compact yet powerful microcontroller unit (MCU), known for its thumb-size, affordability, and versatility. It has built-in WiFi and Bluetooth capabilities, making it an ideal choice for projects that require wireless communication. By supporting WLED, the 3 XIAO ESP32 MCUs leverage their capabilities to offer a more compact and cost-effective solution for smart lighting projects while maintaining high performance and reliability.

Here is a demo video that our team created to showcase how easy it could be to control and design the patterns, and colors of the Grove RGB Ring (WS2813).

Please make sure to use Google Chrome Browser when flashing WLED to XIAO ESP32 MCUs.

Getting Started with WLED on XIAO ESP32

To get you started with using WLED on your XIAO ESP32, here I’m sharing some cool projects from the community. Feel free to refer to them for inspiration and your next blinking builts!!

This project involves flashing the WLED software onto a XIAO ESP32-C3 microcontroller to control both digital and analog LED strips. The process includes connecting the XIAO to a computer, using an online installer to load WLED, configuring Wi-Fi settings, and setting up the hardware as per a provided wiring diagram, followed by testing with the WLED mobile app. Click here to view the step-by-step tutorial on Hackster.

In this project, Gokux repairs and enhances a malfunctioning ring light by rebuilding its control circuit and integrating a wireless control function using a XIAO ESP32C3 microcontroller and WLED software. The process includes diagnostics, LED replacement, designing and 3D printing a custom enclosure, and configuring the system for remote brightness and color temperature adjustments via a mobile app. Read Gokux’s tutorial here.

Last but not least. A big shout-out to maker Gokux for offering valuable support during our testing with WLED on XIAO ESP32 MCUs. 

Open source is love.💚

Notes at the end.

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