Feb 212020

I was searching for a high power addressable LED module and this was one of the few I found in a price range I could play with, and being 5V instead of 12V is convenient for me. They were $15 for 5 unit plus shipping.


5deg Beam Angle

Nano for scale

Only found them on Ray Wu’s AliExpress store, can’t find them anywhere else. It took a few weeks for delivery but it was reasonable for international shipping.

They’re basically what I expected, they worked right out of the box with FastLED test code (WS2811\GRB). I’ve been using 2812’s for so long I was briefly confused by the 4th wire and was worried they were just common anode RGB. But they’re WS2811’s for sure.

I opened one up and should have taken a picture but forgot. The only things worth mentioning are that the lens is glued to the PCB and protrudes from the housing so you cannot remove the board from the aluminum block without breaking off the lens somehow, which is likely to damage the PCB. Also it’s notable to me that the aluminum housing won’t help cool the PCB at all, it’s held in a channel in the middle but doesn’t have any thermal connection to the aluminum. That seems like a missed opportunity.

As far as the light goes- they’re very, very bright. Incomparable to a standard LED strip LED, it’s a bitty freaking light cannon. I can see them being used for architectural displays that would be visible even with lots of ambient light. The video is with my apartment lights on and the FastLED brightness at 128, about 1/2 power.

The thing that I didn’t expect was the projection effect. It’s kind of bizarre and probably why these things aren’t as popular as they could be. If you watch the video you’ll see what I’m talking about.

It projects an almost perfect image of the LED chip and you can clearly see the different positions of the red\green\blue LEDs. It makes it pretty much unusable for direct illumination of anything, at least from close up. You have to bounce this off of something or it’ll be unbearable to look at. It might help to test 20-30ft away, but my apartment isn’t that big and my neighbors already think I’m nuts so I’m not doing outdoor testing right now.

Unfortunately that kind of defeats the purpose of a tight beam for me. Might as well just get a better diffused light if I have to bounce it anyway.

So I’m not sure where to go from here with there. Since I’m already going crazy with tubes I might see if I can use these for a giant silicone tube light or something. We’ll see what happens, but I was pretty excited to get them in and test them so I thought I’d share.

  4 Responses to “Quick Part Review – 3W WS2811 LED Module”

  1. Any more use out of these? I’m thinking of utilizing them for a project which requires signals, outside, in daylight. Hoping these could be the ticket.

    • I bought about 15 more to use for a bigger warp coil or something but I haven’t made it yet.
      I haven’t tried these in daylight and I’m not sure they have the punch for the beam to be visible, but if you fired it up into some kind of diffusion you could probably see the color in overcast daylight, but idk about competing with direct sun.

      • I ended up ordering them and using about (8) per game I am building. They are very sensitive to ground and the side plate screw tend to fall out easily. were you running them as UCS1903 or ws2811? I haven’t looked under the hood of FastLED yet to see what timing differences there are, if any.

  2. Thanks for the review and video. I too have been searching for reasonably priced 3W RGB addressables,

    The Pixie
    looks real nice but at $15/pixel adds up very quickly.

    Taking a wire wheel or 60 grit sandpaper to the lens might give more of the effect you (and I) want. If you were willing to “ruin” one I would love to see the effect.

    Ray Wu’s store has lots of nice stuff but for shipment to Canada they only offer courier service, so the shipping is more than the cost of one lot (5 pixels). I then end up playing the cheaper in bulk game until I price myself out.

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