Stair Accent Lights Made From Cheap LED Strips

We really like [Geert’s] take on accent lighting for his stairs. He built his own LED channels which mount under the bullnose of each step. The LED strips that he used are actually quite inexpensive. They are RGB versions, but the pixels are not individually addressable. This means that instead of having drivers integrated into the strip (usually those use SPI for color data) this strip just has a power rail and three ground rails for the colors. Ten meters of the strip cost him under forty dollars.

He did want to be able to address each step separately, as well as mix and match colors, so he designed the driver board seen above to use a set of TLC5940 LED drivers. These are controlled by the Arduino which handles color changing and animations. It will eventually include sensors to affect the LEDs as you walk up the stairs. Each strip is mounted in a piece of angle bracket, and they’re connected back to the driver board using telephone extension wire.

11 thoughts on “Stair Accent Lights Made From Cheap LED Strips

  1. Just plese, please,PLEASE, dont go all disco strobe-ie or irregular stair step patterns on me when the most important natural drive is the one for belly-contents-delete-at-high-terminal-velocity… rofl!!! Cool implementation. I like it.Some ideas-It would seem that an Ardie is kinda overkill for what could be accomplished with a few 74HC??s. Pardon my outdated education, but I think that there is a whole universe of possibilities in combining the old logic chips and the low-cost MPu’s. Where before, all was seen was a clock tick, there are far more manners of things tobe triggered by that EXACT well planned for clock tick. WTF. It’s all for fun, iddnit? This is not your father’s 555 timer-

  2. I’ve tried a similar circuit for an LED labcoat. I found the CC driver in the TLC5940 is very finicky about running up against it’s rail (0V) and will only get within 1.2V to ground. And eventually will burn out running like that. What resistor did you use to set the current in each channel? I assume you are running the strips at 12V and your source is 12V.

    1. I used 10k resistors for each TLC5940 on the IREF pin. That gives me a current limit of 39.06/10000 = 3.9mA. That’s a lot less than the strips can handle. I just tried some resistors, and found that I didn’t need any more. Also the strips have there own current resistor on each colour channel, so they can be connected to 12v dc directly.
      And when I connected everything to the stairway, I dropped the voltage from 12 to 9volt to dim the light even more.
      So I’d be surprised if anything burns out…

  3. 30€ for 10 meters considering that the same thing can be bought directly from a manufacturer for less than 2$/meter. I’ve seen some LED strips that were even 1.45$/meter!

    Pretty cool project tho, I might do something like this over here.

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