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Aug 06, 2014, 01:33 PM
A different attitude to RC
extremewing's Avatar

Using Arduino Compatible boards to drive full color LED strips (WS2812 and similar)

Arduino Pro Micro or similar ($5 and up)
Hobby King Quad control boards ($20 with gyro and accelerometer)
Open Altimeter (Onboard memory and pressure sensor)
Bluetooth Open Altimeter (Onboard memory, pressure sensor, accelerometer and bluetooth)

or just about any Arduino compatible board (including 8Mhz).

Please see the following posts for some info on getting started.

Last edited by extremewing; Oct 24, 2014 at 12:09 PM.
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Aug 06, 2014, 01:33 PM
A different attitude to RC
extremewing's Avatar
Connecting the strips is fairly straight forward and the pictures of each board above should help.

Strips are available here (I highly recommend this supplier - Ray Wu):
Or on eBay:

The battery is a single cell LiPo battery as described in this thread: or shorter strips (around 30 LED's or less) can be powered from the receiver directly.

NOTE: It is important to use a battery protector when powering LED's since the battery is guaranteed to be drained.

Also, it is really nice when constructing things to know that the battery is short circuit proof.
Last edited by extremewing; Oct 24, 2014 at 01:24 PM.
Aug 06, 2014, 01:34 PM
A different attitude to RC
extremewing's Avatar
The latest firmware files for the LED controller.

The firmware has the ability to store settings that can be adjusted
The code includes switches to set what board you are using.

1) Download the Arduino IDE (1.06 is the latest at time of posting):
2) Get the Adafruit NeoPixel Library from here: and follow the instructions to install it.
3) Run the Arduino IDE and open the LEDController.ino file.
4) Modify some code in the LEDController.ino file (see comments in the code): Set the number of LED's and style to match what is connected.
5) Set the board type and port in the Arduino IDE.
6) Press Upload in the Arduino IDE.

Please post any questions!

So far, it will run on the following boards:
//#define ISMULTIWII //Hextronic or other MultiWii type helicopter control board with Atmega 328
//#define ISMULTIWII_168 //Hextronic or other MultiWii type helicopter control board with Atmega 168
#define ISARDUINO //Arduino Pro Mini or similar with onboard LED on pin 13 - 8Mhz or 16Mhz
//#define ISOA //Open Altimeter with flash memory
//#define ISBTOA //Bluetooth Open Altimeter with flash memory, g-sensor, buzzer and bluetooth

It will likely also run on a bunch of other Atmega based boards too. More descriptions and pictures to come...

December 20, 2016
LEDController 2 download contains code to get brightness and some other parameters form an RC receiver using PWM.
Last edited by extremewing; Dec 20, 2016 at 01:10 PM.
Aug 06, 2014, 01:34 PM
A different attitude to RC
extremewing's Avatar
Reserved for info and download of the Android app to remote control the LED's

Here is the Android APK as - is to control this firmware over bluetooth. This is a very simple and incomplete app but will demonstrate remote control from the phone to the Arduino.

In case you are interested, the source is included as a download.
Last edited by extremewing; Dec 20, 2016 at 01:19 PM.
Aug 09, 2014, 12:35 PM
A different attitude to RC
extremewing's Avatar
For a while now I have been using one of my BTOA's (Bluetooth Open Altimeter) to drive full color addressable LED strips in Hula hoops, light sticks, on RC airplanes (including on an Alula no less!). The BTOA thread is here:

The BTOA weighs around 8g and as such makes it possible to use on an Alula. We have also had LED's on a Hobby King glider similar to the Radian. In most cases when using the BTOA on an RC plane, it and the lights are powered directly from the receiver itself. In a Hula hoop there is a 1S LiPo round cell (1200mah) and that is enough to power the hoop all night. This battery is fitted with a battery protection circuit so it does not matter if the battery is completely drained (it will be after a full night of use) and more details of that battery are here:

What makes this controller different is the fact that it has a G-Sensor, onboard memory, Bluetooth and more. This allows for a feature rich device (for instance the Hula hoop goes to sleep when left lying on the ground to save battery).

The BTOA as an LED driver is also able to create images through persistence of vision (POV) which means that you will sometimes see an image as the plane is flying or if you take a long exposure picture. This can be in the form of patterns made by code or directly from an image stored in memory.

Since the BTOA has Bluetooth, when using it as an LED controller, you can have control over things such as brightness, patterns and other settings right from your Android device.
Last edited by extremewing; Oct 21, 2014 at 09:28 PM.
Aug 10, 2014, 03:37 PM
Slow Flyer
Bombay's Avatar
Night flying is very hot.
Are you selling them? I do not see any prices listed or info on how to obtain one.
Aug 10, 2014, 03:48 PM
A different attitude to RC
extremewing's Avatar
Yes, if you want one you can get it on

It would also be possible to use a cheap Arduino ($5 to $10 or so) if one wanted to just do static patterns and have no g sensor or Bluetooth.

I would be glad to share a version of code that would do that.

The BTOA is a feature rich device that could be multitasked between an actual altimeter or LED controller with all the bells and whistles.
Aug 10, 2014, 03:53 PM
A different attitude to RC
extremewing's Avatar
Here is some sky writing we did last night with an Extreme Wing as well as light painting done by holding the LED light strip by hand.
Last edited by extremewing; Aug 10, 2014 at 04:14 PM.
Aug 10, 2014, 10:25 PM
Registered User
Wow , that's really neat what it can do with the time lapse photos.
Aug 15, 2014, 03:44 PM
A different attitude to RC
extremewing's Avatar
Did you all know a similar thing can be done with a cheap Arduino board?

If there is any interest, I can work on a version of code to share that uses one of these cheap controllers too.

On another note, with some reasonably simple modifications to the code it would be possible to make the controller change modes of something using the output from a channel on the receiver. It would also be possible to make lights behave like scale aircraft lighting or any other type of lighting you can imagine.

These LED's are available in individual pixels all the way to 5m long strips or panels.
Last edited by extremewing; Aug 17, 2014 at 12:18 PM.
Aug 18, 2014, 01:02 PM
A different attitude to RC
extremewing's Avatar
Yesterday, I got the code working on an Open Altimeter board as well as a cheap Arduino. I will be publishing it here soon.
Aug 19, 2014, 06:12 AM
xStatiCa's Avatar
I am interested in open altimeter code for the lights. What does it require to hook them up to an open altimeter? I am new to LEDs.
Aug 19, 2014, 11:05 AM
A different attitude to RC
extremewing's Avatar
You hook them up to the same servo connector as you do the OA to the receiver.

Do you have some strips already?

I can publish code and some instructions later today.
Aug 19, 2014, 08:50 PM
xStatiCa's Avatar
I don't have anything right now. What I want to do is create a light weight led setup for my DLG so I can fly it at night by just attaching something to the DLG. I assume the led strips are really too heavy to use for my purpose. I don't need a ton of lights just enough for orientation. The intent is to prepare for the daylight savings change later this year so that i can fly when I get home.

I thought about using thin flat copper wire to get LEDs further out on the wings which I have seen people use on smaller rc helicopter blades . They mount the battery close to the center hub where there is not much force. I of course don't have to worry about that but I need to make it as aerodynamic as I can to not affect the l/d too much.

I keep reading that resisters are needed and such that has to be calculated. I haven't sourced anything yet. I am still trying to figure out the best approach for something that is removable.
Aug 20, 2014, 12:51 PM
A different attitude to RC
extremewing's Avatar
With the LED strips, you can cut them into single pixels and mount them anywhere on the plane although you would obviously need wires to join them. You will definitely want to illuminate both top and bottom of the wing a bit.

In the past we used some single color LED's at the root, pointing out over the wing (not on a DLG). For this we used classic single color narrow beam LED's with a resistor to the receiver for power. I will try an experiment with this type of installation on the fuse of a DLG using a few pixels from a strip.

The strips are light enough to install a 40 pixel length on an Alula.

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