Notes about microcontrollers like the esp8266.
- https://blog.squix.org/2016/07/esp8266-based-plane-spotter-how-to.html: esp8266 with rtl-sdr for plane spotting.
- https://youtu.be/WlkMbNnIECM: ping pong ball lamps with neopixels.
- https://kno.wled.ge: WLED, by FAR the easiest way to use neopixels.
- https://docs.micropython.org/en/latest/esp8266/quickref.html: Micropython on the esp8266.
- https://learn.adafruit.com: There is SO MUCH awesome creativity with microcontrollers in here.
- https://diyi0t.com/esp8266-nodemcu-tutorial: Good info on the esp8266. There are some conflicting forum posts out there, and the spec table here was useful for me.
- https://youtu.be/udo8mv5oarg / https://github.com/bertrandom/snowball-thrower: Playing Zelda Breath of the Wild Bowling minigame using Teensy
- https://tasmota.github.io: General purpose ESP firmware for connecting to and automating various snesors and devices.
- https://www.withdiode.com: Modern circuit simulator. "Build, program, and simulate hardware in the browser."
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 smile.amazon links, not affiliate links.
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.
- 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.