This collaboration was between Adafruit & Micah from Scanlime, Fadecandy, a NeoPixel driver with built in dithering, that can be controlled over USB. For every FadeCandy sold Micah from Scanlime was paid, Micah's work can be supported on Patreon (Adafruit Patreon sponsored from 2017 to 2020). Adafruit emailed Micah multiple times for possible updates or status of the project, but has not heard back since 2018. The software is known incompatible with 64-bit MacOS systems, possibly others.
Individually addressable LEDs are everywhere. In the quest for a smaller, cheaper, smarter LED, the latest and hottest technology is the NeoPixel, AdaFruit's term for the WS2812. This is an amazing little chip that integrates red, green, and blue LEDs with a controller chip into a single package.

NeoPixels are inexpensive, bright, easy to use, and you can use them to build projects of almost any size. They show up in costumes, sculptures, vehicles, and signs. The saturated colors and frenetic blinking of these lights can be hard to escape at parties and festivals.
These LEDs are capable of so much more. I believe that LED lighting can be nuanced, with wide ranges of brightness from blindingly intense to barely visible, saturated hues to subtle off-white. Getting this range of expression from LEDs can be super tricky, especially when the only tool you have at your disposal is the Arduino IDE.

Fadecandy is a project that tries to solve this problem, by making LED art both easier to build and more expressive. At the core of the project is the Fadecandy Controller, a tiny board that lets you control up to 512 NeoPixels (as 8 strands of 64) from any computer or embedded Linux board with USB. It includes unique color dithering and interpolation algorithms to get the most out of each pixel.

Fadecandy works with any WS2811 or WS2812 LEDs, and you can program your LEDs using many different environments. This tutorial covers one particular LED module and one particular programming environment. We'll be programming an 8x8 NeoMatrix in the Processing language.

You'll be doing some programming and some basic electronics assembly. If you aren't familiar with programming or electronics yet, don't worry- there are plenty of tutorials on to help you if you get stuck, and you might even find someone near you who would love to help you get started.

This guide was first published on Nov 20, 2013. It was last updated on Mar 08, 2024.

This page (Introduction) was last updated on Mar 08, 2024.

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