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Description: This is the NeoPixel Stick from Adafruit, a small chainable board with eight 5050 WS2812 RGB LEDs. The WS2812s are each addressable as the driver chip is located inside the LED. Each NeoPixel Stick has ~18mA constant current drive so the color will be very consistent even if the voltage varies, and requires 5V.

Every stick is equipped with a single data line with a very timing-specific protocol requiring a real-time microconroller with a 8MHz or faster processor such as an AVR, Arduino, PIC, mbed, etc. There are solder pads on the back for connecting wires or breadboard pins and two mounting holes for securing this board to many different surfaces.

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  • A word of warning about this (I posted it on the Adafruit site, too): Be very careful with the wires that you solder onto it. I’ve been soldering for nigh on to 5 decades now, including a lot of SMT stuff. (I’ll admit I have trouble soldering anything smaller than an 0402 by hand, even with a good microscope.) Anyway, the wires I soldered onto the 8X stick (which I bought directly from Adafruit) have all pulled off their pads. I did not get them excessively hot or heated for an excessively long time. I was able to solder the wires onto the SMT parts on the “front side” and get the experiments done, and am OK with that. I soldered the V+ and GND to the bypass caps, and although I tried to get the Din wire onto the Din pin on LED1, I was unsuccessful, but did get it onto the Dout pin (more accessible), so was able to use the other 7 LEDs. (I’d already decided to use single Neopixels in my project, but since I had the 8x stick in-hand, I was able to “experiment” until I could get the singles.) I’ll also admit that sometimes a panel will “sneak through” production chains with minor problems that lead to poor adhesion, so mine may be an oddball.

    I’ve also suggested to Adafruit Engineering (SF Engineering: LISTEN UP!) to check with the PCB manufacturer and find out what the smallest via they support (without special handling charge) and put one (or more) at each end of any pad that you expect the user to solder to, unless it is a plated through-hole already. (Put a small pad on the other side, even if there’s nothing connected to it.) This approach greatly improves the strength of pads. (It’s also good for the solder pads under any connector that might have physical stress, e.g., a mini USB connector – especially on those ground connections.)

    Oh, yes: I also discovered (guess how!) that the melting point on the Neopixel LEDs is lower than that on a normal IC, so be careful with that soldering iron.


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