The PicoBuck LED Driver is an economical and easy to use driver that will allow you to control and blend three different LEDs on three different channels. By default, each channel is driven at 330mA; that current can be reduced by either presenting an analog voltage or a PWM signal to the board. Version 12 of the board adds a solderable jumper that can be closed to increase the maximum current to 660mA. The new voltage regulator also increased the voltage rating on the various components on the board, allowing it to be used up to the full 36V rating of the AL8805 part.
Three signal inputs are provided for dimming control. You can use the PWM signal from an Arduino or your favorite microcontroller to dim each channel individually, or you can tie them all to the same PWM for simultaneous dimming. Dimming can be done by an analog voltage (20%-100% of max current by varying voltage from .5V-2.5V) or by PWM (so long as PWM minimum voltage is less than .4V and maximum voltage is more than 2.4V) for a full 0-100% range. A small jumper is provided for each channel to allow you to increase the drive strength from 330mA to 660mA. Two mounting holes for 4-40 or M3 screws are provided on either side of the board. They are perforated so they can be easily snapped off with a pair of pliers, if a smaller footprint is desired.
Note: If you're going to use screw terminals, this board uses two different sizes. Check the related products for both sizes you'll need.
Note: The PicoBuck LED Driver was made in collaboration with Ethan Zonca. A portion of each sale is given back to him.
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Skill Level: Rookie - The number of pins increases, and you will have to determine polarity of components and some of the components might be a bit trickier or close together. You might need solder wick or flux.
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Skill Level: Noob - Programming will be limited to basic drag and drop interfaces like ModKit or Scratch. You won't be writing code, but you will still need to understand some basics of interfacing with hardware. If you?re just using a sensor, it's output is analog.
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If it requires power, you need to know how much, what all the pins do, and how to hook it up. You may need to reference datasheets, schematics, and know the ins and outs of electronics.
Skill Level: Rookie - You may be required to know a bit more about the component, such as orientation, or how to hook it up, in addition to power requirements. You will need to understand polarized components.
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Based on 11 ratings:
I take old outdoor lighting that ran on AC and convert it to solar powered decorative yard/garden lights. I have a big project and the PicoBuck LED Driver is what I need to control the lighting.
Works well, as advertised. I wish they made the pins spaced by 0.1" instead, it'd be a lot easier to fit in 0.1" protoboards.
These things are just peachy! I am building custom dimmable LED lighting for my bedroom, using the COM-13104 3W LED's. SO - first, I bridged the jumpers for the full 660 ma current out, and I tried using just a 10K pot on the input for dimming. It was just OK. Not good control at low levels. So I grabbed a pro-mini (DEV-11113) to do PWM modulation of the input. I even programmed it to give my linear pot a logarithmic taper to give me greater control at the low levels. Much better, but you get definite stepping of intensity as it goes from zero (off) to 1 to 2, etc. Not bad, just a little "steppy". At full intensity, it's like having a handful of small suns. Truly impressive. And surprisingly the LEDs dont get that hot at full power. I used thermally conductive tape (PRT-09771) to fasten the LEDs to an aluminum square tube, and they stay nice and cool.
Very clean way to drive those high power LEDs (3W). Even when limited to 330mA they are bright enough. Great Application Specific device! A bit pricey though, it really adds up when you use more than a few. Also I think it would be nice to have all the same size screw terminals, since the super small footprint is not needed for my application. Don't get me wrong these are great devices and a perfect solution - the hook-up couldn't be easier.
I've got this thing driving strings of LEDs I salvaged from a TV backlight. It just works. Watch out, though. The inductors crack on the top with less crushing force than you might expect. I had two of the three break, not sure how it happened. A little bit of super glue got them back together (mostly affects magnetic shielding, I suspect).
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I thought I was being extremely careful connecting the picobuck to a Cree XPE2 - RGB High Power LED. Initially I was using an under powered power supply and attempted to use the analog inputs to dim the LEDs to accommodate the 9v battery I was powering it with. The only think I can figure is while trouble shooting I must have input more that 2.5v to the analog dimming input. All three LEDs were fried. While trouble shooting it with different leds one of the chips on the picobuck went up in smoke (with no dimming signal). I gave it two stars because I am sure I am at least partially to blame and I found the Sparkfun user community extremely helpful. Hopefully I will have better luck next time.
Everything about this is great. The documentation covers 99% of everything that you could ever need to know about the unit, and Sparkfun's technical support does its best to address any additional questions regarding the unit.
The only thing that would make this even better is if there was a 1A version commercially available. I understand that you can replace the resistor, but not everyone has that sort of soldering finesse. Soldering a jumper is easy, replacing the resistor is...a bit more of a challenge. I'd even be willing to pay a bit of a premium for that sort of unit.
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Bought this to drive 8 Cree XP-G 5W LEDs; 4 per channel. Started with the default ~300ma drive current and the picco buck could not handle it. It started to heat and burn up. On top of that, one of the channels was deal. I used a 12V 120W power supply, plenty to drive the LEDs. My testing was done with just a single LED and it burned the PiccoBuck. After talking to tech support, they said it will not work with my LED.
What?!?!?! Thanks for the advanced notice, what a useless driver. Got it refunded but lost my shipping charges which account for 30% of the cost.
This saved me a lot of time and trouble. I was set to build my own drivers that would not have been as good.
These have done great work in several projects, I hope they keep making these for a long time. Never had one fail or burn out, but I'm careful :)
I only wish the pads/through holes were all on 2.5mm spacing so these could be integrated into larger boards with standard headers more easily.