New Part Day: SK6812 Mini-E. A Hand Solderable Neopixel Compatible LED!

Normally when we give you a New Part Day piece, it concerns a component that you will have never seen before. The subject of this find by [Robert Fitzsimons] then is a slight departure from that norm, given that the SK6812 Mini-E is a WS2812 or Neopixel compatible multi-colour LED of a type that has been available for a while now.

What makes this component new though is its packaging. The Mini-E variant of the SK6812 only appeared last year and has now found its way through to smaller order quantities on AliExpress. Its special feature is that it has a set of flat leads rather than the usual pads on the underside of the package. This means that unlike its predecessors it is readily hand solderable, as he demonstrates by attaching a set of leads to one.

The leads emerge halfway up the side of the device, which seems designed to be mounted recessed within a PCB hole. He demonstrates this with a piece of stripboard, and remarks that they would make a good choice for many small projects such as Shitty Add-On boards.

We’ve touched the leadless SK6812s a few times before, along the way remarking that in some respects they are better than the WS2812 they follow.

23 thoughts on “New Part Day: SK6812 Mini-E. A Hand Solderable Neopixel Compatible LED!

    1. Agreed, I was excited for a moment until I realized this was ws2812 compatible _not_ apa102 compatible :-(

      While there are tricks to mass-feeding 2812s via DMA they usually involve an 8b–>32b lookup table (meaning you send 128 bits per LED out the SPI port to gain the capability to do DMA dumps to update a whole string, which means you must pick the cpu overhead of dumping chunk-at-a-time or the memory overhead of translating a line at a time to the bloated format). thanks

      1. I’ve soldered tens of them, not hundreds. I understand they’re very temperature sensitive so I’ve always lowered my soldering iron’s temperature while doing them. And I don’t solder all the pins of one package at a time, just to let them cool down between pin solderings.

      2. The most important thing I learned when soldering WS2812 is flux. My very favorite is Amtech NC-559-V2 tacky flux. Works great for SMD, but is perfect for general purpose tasks as well. If you spend less time on a joint, you reduce your risk of damaging the component.

        The thing that saved me was a ~3mm thick piece of copper that I use as a “heatsink” on the reverse side of the LEDs, drawing the heat away from the part. I’ve even used an ice cube, as weird as it sounds. The important takeaway is that Shannon (the previous reply) is 100% correct: set your temperatures accordingly.

        Use flux. Tin your wires beforehand. I use 32 AWG enameled wire, which I tin by keeping the end of the wire in a ball of Kester 63/37 at the end of my iron until it melts the enamel off and tins the wire. A good indicator that your wire is tinned is when you see a waft of smoke. Trim it as needed, flux and tin your part, let the part cool, solder your first joint. Rinse, repeat.

      3. I’ve done strings of dozens of 2020 as well as 1515 addressable LEDs at 1mm spacing… it takes talent and a steady hand, a microscope, and a decent soldering iron with a very fine tip. 5050s are not difficult at all.

  1. The problem most people have soldering parts is they are using the wrong soldering iron / tip. Look at the iron this guys is using in the video. Its like trying to use a sludge hammer to drive in a penny nail. Just absurd.

    If people would invest more time into the proper tool they would have less pain in soldering parts.

    Grab yourself a JBC soldering station and a few tips and you will never have an issue soldering any part.

    1. Too many time I have read on forums that people (solder virgins) working on a $2000+ PC but refuse to spend more than $20 on a soldering iron.

      Expensive soldering stations won’t save the idiots either when the first thing they do is to crank the heat up to max. I have seen too many lab soldering tip ruined. There are the other extreme case where they have barely enough heat to melt the solder which require 3X as long and ended up pumping in more heat. Soldering is like the 3 bears, there is an optimal setting.


    Okay, enough of this BS. “Neopixel” is nothing more than a company overcharging for commodity LEDs with a meaningless brand name slapped on it.

    “Neopixels” aren’t a thing. These *should* be referred to as *addressable LEDs*. Calling them “neopixels” is just free advertising for a company that price-gouges the hacker community on practically every product they sell. You’re doing their dirty-work for them, in making it seem like “neopixels” are somehow more desirable than any other addressable LED.

    1. Price gouging? You can buy cheaper versions of some of the stuff that Adafruit sells, but I really, REALLY appreciate all of the educational material and software that they provide on their excellent website and I’m willing to pay a bit more for products to support them.

      The only time I go instead to AliExpress for an item that Adafruit sells is when I need hundreds of them and simply couldn’t do the project at all if I had to buy those parts at Adafruit’s large-quantity prices. Over the years Adafruit has gotten thousands of dollars from me, and I’m perfectly happy with that.

      I was not paid to write this, and have no affiliation with Adafruit other than being a happy customer.

    2. Adafruit release all their designs and software and are a USA company that need to pay their staff USA wages. It’s not price-gouging. We’re just spoiled by having access to equivalent parts directly from China, frequently directly copied from their designs without having to pay for any of the development and customer support/tutorials.

  3. Nice find, I’ve got some of these and I’m interested in using these on a custom board, reverse mounting them.

    Does anyone have any experience of creating cutouts for these in KiCAD? Also any issues with the prototype fabs creating cut outs for this sort of thing (a 3mmx 2.7mm rectangular cutout)?

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