NeoPixels are LEDs that can be programmed to show specific colors. They are connected serially, allowing long chains of them to be easily controlled. You connect the first NeoPixel to a data output from your CircuitPython board, and each additional LED is connected in a chain. Pre-wired strips, rings, and other shapes are available or you can connect individual LEDs to each other to make a custom arrangement.

The Prop-Maker FeatherWing has a dedicated connector for connecting NeoPixels. We’ll need to solder the plug and wire that matches the connector to the NeoPixels we want to use.

Hardware References

Software References

Assembly Guide

Collect parts
  • Prop-Maker FeatherWing
  • NeoPixel Ring (or strip, stick, etc)
  • JST-3PH connector
  • M4 Express CircuitPython board with battery
Make sure to find the right cable, there are a lot in the kit! If at first you don’t find it, look again.
The cable connects with the large black connector on the FeatherWing
Verify you have the right cable by plugging it into the board
Cut the wires
Strip a short section of the wires
The NeoPixel ring has four solder pads
  • PWR – +5V
  • GND – ground
  • IN – Data into the NeoPixel from the CircuitPython board
  • OUT – Optional data out to another NeoPixel – to add another ring we would connect the OUT of the first ring to the data IN of the next ring
Test fit the wire connections by pushing the wires through the front of the board. You may want to adjust the wire lengths depending how you’re installing the ring.
  • Red wire -> +5V Power
  • Black wire -> GND
  • White wire -> Data Input
Heat soldering iron to 350C
Clean the tip with the wire sponge, apply fresh solder, and clean again. The tip should look shiny and fresh
Double check that the wire is in the correct hole
Solder the first connection. Make sure to use good technique and a get a nice smooth looking connection between the pad and wire. The NeoPixels can use a lot of power so good connections are important.
Solder the remaining wires
Connector is finished!
Assembled Prop-Maker, Feather, NeoPixel ring, and battery. NeoPixels can draw a lot of current and reset the board if only plugged into USB – using the battery pack can help provide the power needed.
Make sure you have the NeoPixel libraries installed in CIRCUITPY/lib. If not, you need to download the CircuitPython 8.x Library Bundle and manually copy the files to CIRCUITPY/lib.
Save the from the DMA GitHub to your CIRCUITPY drive. This file is set up for our Feather M4 Express with Prop-Maker FeatherWing
Update your to load the file.

Bask in rainbow-licious NeoPixelated programmable light!

Don’t plug or unplug NeoPixels while the power is on! They could be damaged.

You can program the NeoPixel colors directly (recommended to start) or use an animation library

Happy NeoPixeling!

Categories: Tutorial