Non-Addressable RGB LED Strip Hookup Guide

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Contributors: bboyho
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Introduction

Add color to your projects with the non-addressable LED strips! These are perfect if you want to add uniform lighting for your props, car, fish tank, or perhaps under cabinet lighting in your home.

LED RGB Strip - Bare (5m)

LED RGB Strip - Bare (5m)

COM-12022
$49.95
2
LED RGB Strip - Bare (1m)

LED RGB Strip - Bare (1m)

COM-12021
$9.95
1

LED RGB Strip - Sealed (5m)

COM-12024
1 Retired

LED RGB Strip - Sealed (1m)

COM-12023
1 Retired

Required Materials

To follow along with this tutorial, you will need the following materials. The partial wishlist on the left is for a basic connection with an Arduino. It does not include the potentiometer and buttons. The full wishlist on the right is for the full circuit for additional functionality. You may not need everything though depending on what you have. Add it to your cart, read through the guide, and adjust the cart as necessary.

Microcontroller

To make the most out of your LED strip, you will need a microcontroller. The easiest would be to use the RedBoard Qwiic but you can use any Arduino microcontroller as long as it has a minimum of three PWM pins.

Arduino Pro Mini 328 - 3.3V/8MHz

Arduino Pro Mini 328 - 3.3V/8MHz

DEV-11114
$9.95
48
SparkFun RedBoard Qwiic

SparkFun RedBoard Qwiic

DEV-15123
$19.95
8
USB micro-B Cable - 6 Foot

USB micro-B Cable - 6 Foot

CAB-10215
$4.95
13

Power Supply

To power your LEDs, you will need a 12V power supply. The amount of current needed depends on the length and density of the LED strip. Below are a few options if you are powering the LEDs from a wall outlet in an installation. You could also use a 9V power supply. It may not be as bright but your LED strip will not be as hot.

Wall Adapter Power Supply - 12VDC, 600mA (Barrel Jack)

Wall Adapter Power Supply - 12VDC, 600mA (Barrel Jack)

TOL-15313
$5.95
SparkFun ATX Power Connector Breakout Kit - 12V/5V (4-pin)

SparkFun ATX Power Connector Breakout Kit - 12V/5V (4-pin)

KIT-15701
$15.95
3

Wires and Connectors

The stranded wires from the non-addressable do not have a connector. For prototyping you could use alligator clips with male headers. However, it would be easier to use a polarized connector like the ones from the 4-wire pigtail connector to easily connect and disconnect from your controller.

Hook-Up Wire - Assortment (Stranded, 22 AWG)

Hook-Up Wire - Assortment (Stranded, 22 AWG)

PRT-11375
$16.95
18
Alligator Clip with Pigtail (10 Pack)

Alligator Clip with Pigtail (10 Pack)

CAB-14303
$6.95
4
LED Strip Pigtail Connector (4-pin)

LED Strip Pigtail Connector (4-pin)

CAB-14576
$1.50

Transistors

If you are using a microcontroller to control the strip, you will need transistors to control each channel. For small lengths, you could use NPN transistors. For longer lengths, you could use n-channel mosfets. Just make sure to get the associated resistors depending on your transistor.

N-Channel MOSFET 60V 30A

N-Channel MOSFET 60V 30A

COM-10213
$0.95
4
SparkFun MOSFET Power Control Kit

SparkFun MOSFET Power Control Kit

COM-12959
$5.25
15
Transistor - NPN, 60V 200mA (2N3904)

Transistor - NPN, 60V 200mA (2N3904)

COM-00521
$0.50
Transistor -  NPN, 60V 4A (2N5192G)

Transistor - NPN, 60V 4A (2N5192G)

COM-13951
$0.95

Input

For options to adjust the color and brightness of your LED strip, you could use the following with a microcontroller.

Trimpot 10K Ohm with Knob

Trimpot 10K Ohm with Knob

COM-09806
$0.95
6
Multicolor Buttons - 4-pack

Multicolor Buttons - 4-pack

PRT-14460
$1.60

Tools

You will need a soldering iron, solder, and general soldering accessories. You may also need some wire strippers if you are cutting and reusing parts of the strip.

Soldering Iron - 60W (Adjustable Temperature)

Soldering Iron - 60W (Adjustable Temperature)

TOL-14456
$14.95
11
Solder Lead Free - 15-gram Tube

Solder Lead Free - 15-gram Tube

TOL-09163
$3.50
2
Wire Strippers - 22-30AWG

Wire Strippers - 22-30AWG

TOL-14762
$12.95
1

Suggested Reading

If you aren’t familiar with the following concepts, we recommend checking out these tutorials before continuing. If you are looking to customize the control by programming a microcontroller, we recommend looking at the SparkFun Inventor's Kit for Arduino.

Pulse Width Modulation

An introduction to the concept of Pulse Width Modulation.

Light-Emitting Diodes (LEDs)

Learn the basics about LEDs as well as some more advanced topics to help you calculate requirements for projects containing many LEDs.

LED Light Bar Hookup

A quick overview of SparkFun's LED light bars, and some examples to show how to hook them up.

Transistors

A crash course in bi-polar junction transistors. Learn how transistors work and in which circuits we use them.

SparkFun Inventor's Kit Experiment Guide - v4.1

The SparkFun Inventor's Kit (SIK) Experiment Guide contains all of the information needed to build all five projects, encompassing 16 circuits, in the latest version of the kit, v4.1.