DotStar Strips

The most popular type of DotStars are these flexible LED strips…they can be cut to length and fit into all manner of things. There are many varieties! Two vital things to be aware of:

  • Though strips are described as “flexible,” they do not tolerate continuous and repeated bending. “Formable” might be a better word. A typical application is architecture, where they can be curved around columns and then stay put. Repeated flexing (as on costumes) will soon crack the solder connections. For wearable use, affix shorter segments to a semi-rigid base (e.g. a hat, BMX armor, etc.).
  • Watch your power draw. Though each pixel only needs a little current, it adds up fast…DotStar strips are so simple to use, one can quickly get carried away! We’ll explain more on the “Power and Connections” page.

RGB DotStar Strips

DotStar Digital RGB LED Weatherproof Strip is available in three different “densities”: 30, 60 and 144 LEDs per meter, on a white or black backing strip.

The approximate peak power use (all LEDs on at maximum brightness) per meter is:

  • 30 LEDs: 9 Watts (about 1.8 Amps at 5 Volts).
  • 60 LEDs: 18 Watts (about 3.6 Amps at 5 Volts).
  • 144 LEDs : 43 watts (8.6 Amps at 5 Volts).

Mixed colors and lower brightness settings will use proportionally less power.

White DotStar Strips

A recent addition is White DotStar strips. Rather than red, green and blue, these contain three identical white LED elements — either “cool” or “warm” white. For monochrome applications, white DotStars are more “true” and pleasing to the eye than white mixed from red+green+blue. Like the RGB strips, they’re available in different pixel densities.

Approximate color temperature:

  • Cool white: 6000–6500K
  • Warm white: 3000K

White DotStars are only available with the white backing strip. Power consumption is comparable to the RGB strips. Half-meter strips not offered.

Finer Details About Flexible DotStar Strips

  • 144 pixel/m DotStar strips are sold in one meter (RGB or white) and half meter (RGB only) lengths. Each of these is a separate strip with end connectors. Longer contiguous lengths are not offered in 144 pixels/m.
  • 30 and 60 pixel/m DotStar strips are sold in one meter multiples. Orders for multiple meters will be a single contiguous strip, up to a limit: 4 meters for 60 pixels/m strip, 5 meters for 30 pixels/m.
  • For 30 and 60 pixels/meter strips, if purchasing less than a full reel (4 or 5 meters, respectively), the strip may or may not have 4-pin JST plugs soldered at one or both ends. These plugs are for factory testing and might be at either end — the plug does not always indicate the input end! Arrows printed on the strip show the actual data direction. You may need to solder your own wires or plug.
  • The flex strips are enclosed in a weatherproof silicone sleeve, making them immune to rain and splashes, but are not recommended for continuous submersion.
  • The silicone sleeve can be cut and removed for a slimmer profile, but this compromises the strip's weather resistance.
  • Very few glues will adhere to the weatherproof silicone sleeve. Using zip ties for a “mechanical” bond is usually faster and easier. The only reliable glues we’ve found are Permatex 66B Clear RTV Silicone (not all silicone glues will work!) and Loctite Plastics Bonding System, a 2-part cyanoacrylate glue. Customers have reported excellent results with Permatex Ultra Grey Silicone Gasket Maker as well.
  • However, do not use Permatex 66B silicone to seal the open end of a cut strip! Like many RTV silicones, 66B releases acetic acid when curing, which can destroy electronics. It’s fine on the outside of the strip, but not the inside. Use GE Silicone II for sealing strip ends, or good ol’ hot melt glue.
  • 2-sided carpet tape provides a light grip on the silicone sleeve; something like a Post-It Note. Or you can try clear duct tape over the top.
  • All LED strips are manufactured in 1/2 meter segments that are then joined into a longer strip. The pixel spacing across these joins is usually 2-3 millimeters different than the rest. This is not a manufacturing mistake, just physical reality.

Rigid Ultra High Density DotStar LED PCB Bar

Another linear form factor similar to a strip, but this one is not flexible. It features 128 tiny DotStar LEDs packed into a 400 millimeter bar with wires at each end with 4-pin JST connectors.

The aluminum-backed PCB is rigid but requires support so it doesn't droop and crack. It's not intended to be bent or curved at all. Also unlike strips, this bar is not weatherproof.

This guide was first published on Dec 24, 2014. It was last updated on Dec 24, 2014. This page (DotStar Strips) was last updated on Aug 20, 2019.