Please note that Adafruit no longer sells this specific type of LED strip; the tutorial is for the benefit of customers with an existing collection. For new projects we recommend our LPD8806 digital LED strips or 12mm or 36mm LED pixels.

We love some good LED blinking as much as the next person but after years of LED-soldering we need something cooler to get us excited. Sure there are RGB LEDs and those are fun too but what comes after that? Well, we have the answer: Digital LED Strips! These are flexible circuit boards with full color LEDs soldered on. They take a lot of LED-wiring-drudgery out of decorating a room, car, bicycle, costume, etc. The ones we carry come with a removable waterproof casing.

There are two basic kinds of LED strips, the "analog" kind and "digital" kind. Analog-type strips have all the LEDs connected in parallel and so it acts like one huge tri-color LED; you can set the entire strip to any color you want, but you can't control the individual LED's colors. They are very very easy to use and fairly inexpensive.

The Digital-type strips work in a different way. They have a chip for each LED, to use the strip you have to send digitally coded data to the chips. However, this means you can control each LED individually! Because of the extra complexity of the chip, they are more expensive.

The strip is made up of 2.5" segments. Each segment is independent and so you can cut the strip down on the segment boundaries, or extend them, or split them up, etc.

We’ve carried two different types of addressable LED strips. If you ordered before August 2011 then you received the HL1606 type, otherwise you probably have the LPD8806 type. Its not too hard to tell the difference. Look at the segments of the strip and find the 'pads' on the side of each 2.5" segment. The HL1606 strips have six pads on each side. the LPD8806 have four pads on each side.

This is what the HL1606-based strip segments look like:

If you have the HL1606-based strip, this is your tutorial — read on!

The LPD8806-based strip looks like this (its thinner, and has fewer 'pads' on the side):

If you have the LPD8806-based strip, that type now has its own separate tutorial.

This guide was first published on Jul 29, 2012. It was last updated on Mar 08, 2024.

This page (Overview) was last updated on Jul 19, 2012.

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