Freeform NeoPixel 7-segment

A free-form circuit using APA106 LEDs (through-hole NeoPixels) to make a 7-segment display

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A free-form circuit using APA106 LEDs (through-hole NeoPixels) to make a 7-segment display

Through-hole NeoPixels are pretty simple things. There are 4 legs -- one power, one ground, one data and one data out. In this build the outer shell of the 8 is made from brass rod and grounded. The inner o's are at 5V and the power connectors from all the leds are soldered onto these.

The data out and data in of adjacent LEDs are connected with one being global data in and one being global data out (these are broken out on brass rods).

I had to add a couple of 10uf capacitors to get it all working. Currently, there's no microcontroller in there, so you have to connect it up with crocodile clips. I might do a future build as a data display with integrated controller.

I've tried building this a few ways. In the first version, I held the LEDs in place by poking them through a piece of paper. this sort-of worked, but was fiddle and error prone. For version 2, I 3D printed a jig to hold everything in place. Unfortunately, I'm not 100% sure where I put the design files for the jig, so can't easily share it.

led holder.stl

The jig you can 3D print to hold your LEDs in place

Standard Tesselated Geometry - 88.75 kB - 09/28/2020 at 09:14


  • 1
    3D print Jig

    You can download the attached STL file for holding the legs in place while soldering everything in place. This makes it all A LOT easier. Note that the tollerances on this are quite tight and you may need to scale the jig a few percent either way to make it fit your LEDs.

    It's designed for 12mm APA106 leds, but you can scale it as far as you like. If you want to make a seven seg out of 3mm leds, you should be able to scale this all the way down.

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