These next steps require a Web Serial-compatible browser. As of this writing, that means Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge or Opera “desktop” browsers. Other browsers (Safari, Firefox, Explorer and anything mobile) won’t work.
Some boards have a new serial chip which needs a driver installed before we can install WLED. Head over to our How to Install Drivers for WCH USB to Serial Chips tutorial, and download and install the new driver.
If you have an older Feather ESP32 or QT Py with CP2102 USB-to-Serial bridge, use SiLabs’ driver instead.
Plug your microcontroller into your computer with a known good USB cable. Click "Install" and select the port for your board.
Depending on the USB-to-serial bridge chip on the board, you might see one or two serial ports. On Mac, for instance, there might be both “/dev/cu.usbmodem[number]” and “/dev/cu.wchusbserial[number]”. Use the “wchusbserial” one.
After successful installation, enter your WiFi network name and password when prompted. This must be a 2.4 GHz WiFi network; ESP32 does not support 5 GHz networks. If it can’t connect, then as a fallback WLED will create its own 2.4 GHz WiFi access point.
It's a good idea to head to WiFi Setup screen and create a good URL so you can control your project from any web-enabled device. I called mine http://mermaid.local -- this is what I type into any web browser on my WiFi network in order to connect to my costume.
We need to change just a couple settings in the app to get our lights running correctly. Click the LED Preferences tab and scroll down to Hardware Setup.
We have 20 LEDs in each strand, and we wired our strands in parallel instead of in series, so I changed "Length" to 20.
We soldered our data wire to pin A0 (aka pin 26) on the QT Py, so make GPIO match the pin number.
Now you can use any computer or handheld device to control your LEDs, as long as you're in range of your WiFi network.
Make sure your device is on the same WiFi network as your board. Navigate to your custom URL (http://mermaid.local/ for me) in a web browser. You'll see a color picker above a whole bunch of color palette choices.
Choose a color, choose an effect, and watch your lights animate and glow!
Head over to the WLED wiki at https://kno.wled.ge/ to delve into all the particulars.
This is great! As long as your costume is within reach of your WiFi network, you can control your animations with ease. But costumes don't always stay at home -- the whole point is to take them out into the Great Beyond, outside the comfort of your WiFi network.
WLED allows you to pre-program animations and organize them into playlists, so you don't need a WiFi network to keep your lights glowing. You can play around with animations and presets to your heart's content at home, then simply turn your costume on and let it animate while you're out exploring.
- Play with colors, palettes, and effects options until you find an animation mode you love. You can control the speed and intensity of the effects with the sliders near the top of the Effects panel.
- Once you're happy with your mode, click the Presets tab, or look in the right-hand column if you're in PC mode. You'll see a button for + Create Preset and another for Create Playlist.
- Choose +Create Preset and give your preset a snazzy name. Click "save" and your mode will be saved into the list below.
- Once you have a few presets made, click Create Playlist. Click the + button to add your presets to your playlist. You can rearrange them into whatever order you like, and also specify how long you'd like each mode to play for.
Once you've made your playlist, take note of the number it's been assigned. My "Bioluminescence" playlist has number 1, and my "Party" playlist is number 33.
Choose Config > LED Settings and scroll about halfway down the page to the Defaults section. Here is where you can tell your costume to choose your playlist when it boots up. Just enter your playlist's number into the Apply Preset field and your playlist will start automatically when you turn your costume on.