Cheap and (relatively) easy to use programmable LEDs are certainly one of the coolest things to come about in the DIY/tech arena in recent years. With just a single 5V data line or two and the proper power supply, you can control hundreds — or even thousands — of LEDs. But what about if your favorite microcontroller or WiFi module doesn’t natively output 5VDC?
If that favorite WiFi module just happens to be an ESP32, and you’re OK with using Espressif’s ESP32-DevKitC, then Evil Genius Labs has just the thing. Their board uses a 74HCT245 chip to shift 3.3V outputs from the ESP32 module to the 5V level expected by programmable LEDs. Eight digital output pins are shifted, and the device supports parallel output, giving you lots of options as to how to organize your wiring code. There’s also a companion web app for control, found here on GitHub.
You can find more info on the board’s assembly and use on the Evil Genius Labs homepage. If you’d like to order one to use yourself, they’re normally available here — but are unfortunately sold out as of this writing. Another option is to contact them directly to get three or more shipped to you (more slowly) from the PCB manufacturer, or you can feast your eyes on the light show in the video below right now: