Help for new midi custom high power LED project

Hi folks!
I want to start by saying that I'm completely new to electronics and programming so I'm terribly sorry if I'm not using the right terms or saying complete gibberish, I only have a very basic understanding of electricity and time to kill..
I want to build a custom light show for my band. I'd like to be able to control 10 high powered LEDs individually with midi. These LEDs will be placed on a metal structure. What I'm pretty much trying to create is an LED Sunstrip like this thing right here but where I can place the lights wherever I want on a custom structure.

So from all the resources I've been going through these last few days, it seems like this project is feasible but I want to make sure I got all the different elements right and would really appreciate your input. So I'd need:
-1 Arduino Uno
-1 Midi shield, like the Dev 12898 SparkFun

Now comes the question about the LEDs, I've found videos where you could connect LED strips in series from one of the PWM outputs on the board, from what I understand you can control the LEDs individually because they have a data connector on each one of them. I've been able to locate these data ins and outs on LED strips but their wattage is too low compared to what I need. I would need 5 or 6 watts LEDs with a data chip the could enable me to connect them in series while still being able to control them individually and I'm having trouble figuring out which LEDs can do that and I'm not even sure where to look or if I'm even using the right jargon that could help me find them. I've been looking at something like that, is that the right thing?

Ok so after, that, I'm aware that the power supplied by the Arduino will be too low to power these 10 LEDs and that I'll need an external power supply and a transistor in front of the circuit.

If that prototype is feasible and I manage to make it work, I would then need to build a 2nd structure and have one structure on each side of the stage and have some badass stage props!!

I hope this makes sense and that this project is feasible, I feel a bit over my head and confused at all the information I've been going through these last few days.. This looks like a very nice and helping community and I'm excited to start my journey into it!

Much love!


Anybody out there?

You need to identify the LEDs you're going to use before you choose an Arduino. LED strips make it easy to control many, but as you have seen, they don't seem to exist in the wattage per light you're looking for.

Since you're only looking for ten lights, you might consider controlling them individually, although that'll obviously need more pins.

I've been looking at something like that, is that the right thing?

I'm not sure what that is... There are a couple of ICs & (resistors?) on the board but I don't see an inductor (which would be used with a constant-current driver). There could be an inductor on the other side of the board? Worse, I don't see a link to a datasheet or schematic or any application notes. :frowning:

A "raw" high-power LED requires a [u]constant-current driver or power supply[/u].

The "industry standard" for dimmable drivers is 0-10VDC or 10V PWM. With an Arduino you'd need to add a "small" (low power/current) 10V power supply and a transistor or MOSFET driver circuit to boost the Arduino's 5V PWM. Or, you can find drivers that work with 5V PWM.

...Technically, a dimmable LED power supply/driver is controlled current, but the main thing is that it's a special power supply where the current is controlled/regulated and the voltage "falls into place". (This is the opposite of how regular constant-voltage power supplies work.)

You can string LEDs in series. The power supply needs the right current spec, and then enough available power & voltage to drive multiple LEDs. i.e. Three 12V LEDs in series requires 36V, but the current is the same as one LED.

However, you cannot string RGB LEDs in series.

High-power LEDs require a heat sink.

What I'm pretty much trying to create is an LED Sunstrip like this thing right here but where I can place the lights wherever I want on a custom structure.
ADJ UB 9H – Thomann France

That's [u]DMX[/u] controlled, and I'd recommend DMX over MIDI.

I've got a couple more thoughts about MIDI vs DMX, but later... I gotta' go...

… I'm back.

You can't control the LEDs individually and wire them in series. You'll need a separate driver (or power supply) for each LED. That gets expensive, and of course it's more work and more wiring.

You can BUY all kinds of [u]DMX controlled lighting[/u] and lighting effects and it might be more cost effective to buy the lights even if you want to build the controller.

MIDI vs DMX. MIDI is for music and DMX is for lighting. MIDI-to-DMX can be done, but I'd recommend you stick with DMX on the lighting-side because it's the standard and it will be a lot easier if you want to expand your setup. And, the ONLY time I'd consider using MIDI is if you have MIDI programmed music as part of your show and you want to sync the lights to that program. If you are not using MIDI programmed music, I'd stick with pure DMX.

Or, you don't need any particular protocol. I've done a few sound-activated lighting effects with direct* connection to the Arduino with no MIDI or DMX. (But they are not "programmed" they are only programmed to react to the music.)

If you're using direct connections and you need dimming, the Uno only has 6 PWOM outputs. The MEGA has 15.

  • The Arduino can't directly power more than a few "regular little" LEDs. Some of my effects use solid-state relays to control 12 or 120V incandescent lamps and I've got one that uses serially-addressed LED drivers to individually address 14 "regular little" LEDs. (None of my effects use dimming.)