Controlling RGB LEDs With The Pi Zero

The Pi Zero is a great piece of hardware, even if you’re not designing another USB hub for it. [Marcel] wanted to control a few RGB LED strips from his phone, and while there are a lot of fancy ways you can do this, all it really takes is a Pi Zero and a few parts that are probably already banging around your parts drawers.

This isn’t a project to control individually addressable RGB LEDs such as NeoPixels, WS2812s, or APA102 LEDs. This is just a project to control RGB LEDs with five four connectors: red, green, blue, power, and or ground. These are the simplest RGB LEDs you can get, and sometimes they’re good enough and cheap enough to be the perfect solution to multi-colored blinkies in a project.

Because these RGB LEDs are simple, that means controlling them is very easy. [Marcel] is just connecting a transistor to three of the PWM pins on the Pi and using a TIP122 transistor to drive the red, green, and blue LEDs. You’ve got to love those TIPs package parts!

Control of the LEDs is accomplished through lighttpd. This does mean a USB WiFi dongle is required to control the LEDs over the Internet, but it is so far the simplest way we’ve seen to add multicolor blinkies to the web.


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22 thoughts on “Controlling RGB LEDs With The Pi Zero

  1. Nice little project, especially as it does not add an additional USB hub ;-)
    But guys, you go through the trouble of designing a PCB and have it manufatured, even with two layers without a ground plane and nice layout? Would have been simpler, cleaner, cheaper, and a lot faster if you would have used a breadboard!

  2. The TIP transistors are in standard TO-220 packages. Even if you really do not want to transit to SMD, you can get MOSFETs in exactly the same package. They produce less waste heat than bipolar darlington transistors.

      1. for the original pi i was registered on their site from before they showed the pictures of the first pcbs, tried to order on launch day (february) and got it on time for christmas (november). But hey am saving thounsand of euros on replacing hundreds of regular pcs with these machines so no complaints

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