Planning & Testing

Choosing your Lamp

Here are a few things to consider when choosing the base lamp to build on:

  1. A candelabra with just one or two tea lights won't show off the color modes as well as something with 5 or more lights.
  2. Conversely, adding more than 7-10 individual tea lights may become problematic.  Longer wire runs add a lot of resistance to your project, which means lights further down the line may flicker and misbehave.
  3. Consider whether your choice of sconce will easily hide your wiring.  You'll have 8 wires going to / coming from each light, so think about how you plan to hide those.

Testing Your LEDs

If this is your first time using Dotstars, visit the DotStart tutorial for details on how to install the library, wire the LEDs, power them and test them!

Before you dive into cutting and soldering and gluing, hook your Dotstar strand up to a microcontroller running the Dotstar Strandtest code, found in the Adafruit_Dotstar library under Examples, and make sure all the lights come on and show every color.  See the tutorial for details.

I keep a Gemma loaded up with Strandtest code and alligator clips on in a convenient drawer under my work bench.  This is a great way to quickly make sure my strand is working without a bunch of soldering and un-soldering.  

Don't skip this!  You'll save yourself a lot of heartache down the line if you discover any problems now.

Power and Measurements

For this guide, where we've used just 7 LEDs with a few feet of wire between, our 5V/2A power supply works great.  If you have a lot more LEDs, or if your wire runs are any longer than a couple feet, you may need a beefier power supply.  

Consider this carfeully -- your sconce may be small but after you weave the wire back and forth in order to hide it, that resistance really starts to add up when the current is over an Ampere

Also, consider where you intend to place the sconce when it's finished.  Is there a power outlet nearby?  Now is a great time to figure out if you'll need to add extra wire to the project so you can reach the outlet without a bunch of pesky extension cords.  

This guide was first published on Apr 21, 2016. It was last updated on Apr 21, 2016.
This page (Planning & Testing) was last updated on Apr 03, 2020.