Data moves only one direction along these strips — they have a definite “in” and “out” end, and the microcontroller must be attached to the “in” end. At the ends of each strip are four solder pads. If you look closely, the two middle pads are labeled either DI and CI or DO and CO. These stand for “data in” and “clock in,” and “data out” and “clock out,” respectively. We want to connect wires to the “in” end, so we’ll use the group of 4 pads labeled GND/DI/CI/+5V.

Some strips arrive with plugs pre-wired for testing at the factory, but these might be at either end of the strip and aren’t necessarily useful for connecting to the microcontroller — in most cases you’ll still have to solder your own wires. Check three times to make sure you’re connecting to the INPUT side! Just because your strip includes a plug does not mean it is useful. You might get lucky, but odds are against it.

To make the images clearer, we removed the plastic covering for this tutorial. However, you can just cut a little bit away on yours to allow you to access the pads. Once you take off the plastic cover its a bit difficult to get it back on.

Tin all four “in” pads by carefully melting a little solder onto the pads:
Start by soldering a red wire to the +5V power line:

Next connect two wires to the data and clock pads. We'll use yellow for the Clock pin (CI) and green for the data pin (DI):

Finally, solder a black wire to ground:

That's it! Now you're ready to use the strip. You may want to use heatshrink to provide a secure cover for the wires, or stuff hotglue in the end, which will do the same.

Connecting to Arduino

  • Connect the Black Ground to any ground pin of the microcontroller (this is for data and power ground)
  • Connect the Yellow Clock wire to digital Pin 3 (you can change this later)
  • Connect the Green Data wire to digital Pin 2 (you can change this later)
  • Connect the Red +5V power wire to your 5V power supply.

Last updated on 2014-04-24 at 04.42.36 PM Published on 2012-07-29 at 03.58.38 PM