HyperHDR: prepare for building & buying components, step 1: Addressable led strip

Guide for building your own ambient system:

1 Addressable LED strip:

For the sake of this tutorial we only considering 5V led strip here. The easiest to drive by Raspberry Pi unit is 2 channel SPI driven LED. You can recognize them by four channels on the LED strip (usually voltage, ground, SI, MO/CK).  

For example WS2801. Limited to 32 leds per meter, but it could be an issue only for smaller TVs. Very stable and reliable.


The other and better than WS2801 choice could be APA102 made in Taiwan. There is an option for even 144 leds per meter... if only you could find a reliable seller. Almost all APA102 sold on Aliexpress are in fact their counterfeit clones like APA102c (made in China) or SK9822. 

There are inferior comparing to original APA102, there is some difference in the protocol although you can think it works as ordinary APA102 leds (fixed by me in the HyperHDR software) and they have higher failure rate.

Apa102 like LED strip:

It's recommend to verify seller's received feedback before buying from him.

There is also an interesting led SK6812 with RGBW SMD. Separate channel for red, green, blue and white. Available in neutral, warn and cold variant. It's one channel driven led but it could reproduce very nice colors. Protocol is the same as WS2812B (only RGB). This type of LED will receive special attention later.

On the market there are other models untested by me. HD107 looks very interesting on the paper (better than APA102) and HD108 that's got some other advantages (16-bit per channel and 3.3V Raspberry Pi logic level compatibility) but their availability is limited and are very expensive.


  1. Best colors offers SK6812 RGBW, but driving this led strip may be a little complicated. It happens that an independent controller like ESP12, ESP8266 or ESP32 would be necessary to do that job. In most cases best choice is 60 led/meter. 

  2.  Easiest to setup is WS2801. I used it for years, very nice experience.

  3.  APA102 unfortunately, due to large market of counterfeits clones I can't recommend it. 


Bo Pedersen said…
Out of curiosity, do you have a preferred supplier for SK6812s and APA102? i do find them every so often on DIGI-KEY, but quite pricey for a 5M roll of 60 LEDs/M (last batch was $117CAD! YIKES! LOL)
awawa said…
All my LEDs (I have few setups) are from the Aliexpress. But I wouldn't even try to buy the APA102 there, the original manufacturer is from Taiwan so you'd probably get a counterfeit. Can't recommend the specific seller because I think the quality is a matter of luck: usually it's OK. I have a lot of BTF led strips, but the last from them broke just after a few weeks (fortunately, apart from losing money I do not mount them directly on the TV but on the wooden frame).
jingato said…
Hi there, looking at the SK6812 on Amazon from BFT Lighting and it comes in natural white, cool white, and warm white. Will it make a difference which I get or is there one I should prefer?
awawa said…
Everything is explained in the latest post on the blog