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Notes about microcontrollers like the esp8266.

My personal projects

These are all components I've used. They may not be the best or even the most suitable, but I've had success with all of the things listed below.

N.B.: There are some amazon links in here. They are all links, not affiliate links.

LED projects


As of January 2022 I've only used the HiLetgo NodeMCU ESP8266 (CP2102 ESP-12E). The NodeMCU ESP8266 has a built in voltage regulator on its voltage-in pin (Vin) that tolerates over 12v input, which means you can use a single 12v power supply to power both the device and one or more 12v LED strands or strips. Here's a wiring diagram of how I used to do it. I've iterated on the wiring since I first made this diagram, but logically the circuit itself is identical to this.

LED strands

  • Alitove WS2811 12v strand requires 12v power input.
  • Alitove WS2811 5v strand is identical to the previous, but because it's 5v it can run off usb power to the microcontroller, which is relayed over the vin port. See this wiring diagram. Because you can run the microcontroller and lights off usb power, this is a portable setup that would be good for bikes, cosplay, etc..
  • Alitove 5v strip is electrically the same as the above 5v strand, but in a different form factor. This is good for making lamps, accent lighting at home, etc..


For software I've been using the led focused firmware WLED which has a bunch of pre-built animations and stuff. This doesn't let you easily do things like control individual LEDs, so if you want those features should look at using something else like circuitpython or micropython.

Another firmware that may be worth checking out is Tasmota. I haven't used this, but it purportedly lets you animate LEDs and also connect a variety of other sensors and devices, and is more smart-home focused.

Additional hardware

  • Breadboard jumpers are great for avoiding having to solder things together.
  • Lever nuts also help avoid soldering.
  • A high-wattage power supply is good regardless of whether you're going with 12v or 5v. If you don't have enough amps, your LEDs will not go as bright as they potentially could.