Really-quick if you haven’t looked at WLED in a while- give it another look.

I was experimenting with ESP32 NodeMCUs and had to find an alternative to the venerable ESPixelStick firmware, which simply doesn’t run on ESP32. A few online forum members suggested WLED as an alternative. I had “played” with WLED a long time ago, and while it worked- I wasn’t very impressed with it, and at the time it didn’t support SACN/E1.31. Well- it does now.

So far- here are the advantages:

  • Compiles on almost any MCU hardware. Several pre-compiled binaries available if you don’t want to compile yourself.
  • An almost ridiculous number of included patterns if you don’t need a sequenced display. You can build an internal playlist that starts automatically.
  • Along with the above- you can synchronize multiple devices natively.
  • Can play background patterns and automatically switch to streaming SACN when data is received. (ESPixelStick won’t. See below.)
  • Has integrated relay control. You can power your LEDs on and off automatically by using a GPIO-driven relay.
  • Integrated push-button and IR remote capability.
  • Support for home automation, in-particular- Alexa!
  • Extensive, easy to use, user interface.
  • Easy captive-portal initial configuration, and override portal in case the main WiFi link breaks down.

I still love ESPixelStick, but was forced to move to WLED for some of my controllers because it won’t compile on newer/faster 32-bit hardware (with better WiFi radios!). It’s also frustrating because there appears to be a bug in the current version that if you set up a pattern to play on boot (like Rainbow), it will ignore any SACN data. So- you can’t have a background effect that plays when your server (FalconPlayer, for example) isn’t streaming a sequence.

Check out WLED here: