Micro:Bit with Addressable LEDs WS2811 v WS2812B

Hoping someone here has some familiarity with this topic and can point me in the right direction.

tl;dr — I’ve tried both WS2812B LED strips and WS2811 LED strings but can’t get the WS2811 to work. Is ** WS2811** supported by the neopixel library?

I recently purchased both the WS2812B led strip and some WS2811 light strings to experiment with addressable LED programming. Since my kids and I have a few Micro:Bit devices and supporting gadgetry I wanted to give it a whirl with what I have.

Using a GPIO extension board with 5v of power I was able to get the WS2812B strips working immediately but no luck with WS2811. I don’t see the WS2811 lights referenced in the API docs but wanted to check in with the community: is anyone using these successfully with Micro:Bit?



What make / model of WS2811 strip are you using ? I have some but they are 12v only .

Do you get any sort of signs of life from the 2811 strip at all ?

Do you have access to an Arduino or other microcontroller so you can test the 2811 strip to make sure it works ?


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Ah! That may be the tip I needed — double checked the listing I purchased from and lo and behold: “12V K1000S T500 Controller”. So these are 12V. I’m using a freenove GIPO extension board which only does 5V output. Sounds like that might be my issue. The listing for the lights does say, elsewhere, “DC 5V/DC 12V 0.3W / led” but maybe that’s not accurate.

I will try and read a little about how (if) I can provide a different power source to those lights and still use the Micro:Bit. This is all really new to me so am figuring it out as I go.

I don’t have an andruino or espruino board (yet). This is my first attempt at addressable LEDs and I got a little overwhelmed with options. But since I have a couple Micro:Bit devices I wanted to start there and a small string of lights and see how much I could do. Also seems chip shortage affecting stock of various micro stuff.

Okay — this is a great lead. If you have any other tips or places I can read about the APIs and powering (stringing multiple sets together) it’s all much appreciated. Thank you!


glad to have helped point you in the right direction

I am guessing the the 5V DC relates to the control signal voltage that the strip needs from the MicroController, Whereas the 12V relates to the voltage needed to actually power / light the LEDs. If you send me a link to the LED that you have i can try to confirm this for you.

In your case as the GPIO board only gives 5V you will have to power the LEDs from an external source (12V ) - don’t panic its easier than it first looks!!

Here are a couple of links that may point you in the right direction - PLEASE NOTE they show supplying 5V external power to DOTSTAR/neopixel led but the same wiring etc applies if using 12V external power…

Please Read this thoroughly & make sure you understand as connecting the wrong wire can destroy your LEDs or MicroBit - DON’T ASK ME HOW I KNOW!!!

As always let me know if you need any further help or have any further questions on this

Hi again! Thanks for your replies!

So I think I can safely say the WS2811 do work and are not DOA. Here is the link to the item. Also, I am using this GPIO from Freenove:

I had read somewhere (and saw again in the articles that you linked) that under 12V was fine just not over. So, what I tried was connecting a 9V battery to the GPIO and then using the VIN pin (instead of the 5V pin) to power the LEDs. Not sure where I read that the VIN pin would bring over the power from the battery but lo and behold: they came alive!

I can control the colors but they seem a little “off” (maybe this has to do with the under voltage) and the “rainbow” feature is not working (works with the 5V strip).

So will try and figure out how to get proper 12V and see if I can connect that directly to the string to power them. Maybe that will sort out the colors.

I am going to read those two articles you sent more carefully. I hope not to blow the lights but am prepared for a few mistakes along the way!

Thanks again!

so glad to hear they are working !

the “off” colours problem - can you share your code?
It may be that the 2811 LEDs need the colours specified in a different order ?