Raspberry Pi Powered LED Lamp

Dheepak Krishnamurthy

Published on

With a Raspberry Pi, you can control a RGB addressable LED strip. The instructions are very simple [1] and the results are pretty cool. I decided to make a desk lamp with a web interface. This post will go through the steps to build your own Pi powered desk lamp.

Raspberry Pi Powered LED Desk Lamp


  • Raspberry Pi
  • Memory card (greater than 4 GB recommended)
  • Power Adapter
  • LED Strip (LPD8806)
  • Wires
  • Lamp shade


Any model of the Raspberry Pi should work for this project. First we need to set up the Raspberry Pi.


To use SPI on the Raspberry Pi, you need to connect 4 pins. Adafruit has an excellent image in their tutorial that shows how you can do this, which I’ve also linked below.

I’ve used the same power source to the LED strip to power the Raspberry Pi as well.

I found the lamp shades on Amazon. I purchased them in white, since the LEDs are RGB.

I purchased the LED strip from Adafruit.


Download the latest Raspbian from the official source. I used the image 2016-03-18-raspbian-jessie.img. Flash the operating system onto a memory card.

sudo dd bs=1m if=2016-03-18-raspbian-jessie.img of=/dev/rdisk$DISKNUMBER

When using dd on OSX, I’ve found that rdisk is much faster than disk.

Optional - Expand the file system to use all the available space on the memory card.

sudo raspi-config
-> Expand File System
-> Save
-> Reboot

To control this particular LED strip, we are going to use the SPI bus on the Raspberry Pi. We need to set up the Pi to use SPI.

sudo raspi-config
-> Advanced Options
-> Enable SPI
-> Enable on Boot
-> Save
-> Reboot

Next, we need to install some packages to use the SPI bus. First, let’s update the Raspberry Pi.

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade

Then we need to install python-dev, pyspidev and BiblioPixel. These are all required to control the LED strip.

sudo apt-get install python-dev
sudo pip install spidev
sudo pip install BiblioPixel

Instead of installing spidev and BiblioPixel, you can also clone the repositories and add them to your PYTHONPATH. I found that sudo pip install <package-name> is easier, however I had to browse through the source code of BiblioPixel and found having a local copy accessible was helpful.

Finally, we need Flask to set up a server on the Raspberry Pi.

sudo pip install Flask

Note - I’ve used sudo for all the pip installations. It is definitely required for spidev, but may not be for the others. You will need to use sudo to run the application, since root access is required to control GPIO pins on the Raspberry Pi.


The tutorial on Adafruit’s page links to a library for their LED strip, which the author has deprecated in favour of the excellent BiblioPixel [2]. I recommend using BiblioPixel as well - if you want to use a different LED strip in the future this will make it very easy to use the same code base.

At this point, you should be able to run a few examples, and see animations on your LED strip.


I’ve set up a simple Flask server and am using a Javascript library called colorwheel to send a user selected color to the Raspberry Pi. The code for the Flask server is available on GitHub under MIT License.

If you want more information, feel free to ask me any questions in the comments section below!


[1] “LED strip and RGB LED software Raspberry Pi LED Spectrum Analyzer Adafruit Learning System.”.

[2] “ManiacalLabs/BiblioPixel,” GitHub.