With a Raspberry Pi, you can control a RGB addressable LED strip. The instructions are very simple  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
- Memory card (greater than 4 GB recommended)
- Power Adapter
- LED Strip (LPD8806)
- 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
dd on OSX, I’ve found that
rdisk is much faster than
disk will work fine, but if you are using
disk be prepared to wait longer - it took about an hour in my case..
(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
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 . 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.
If you want more information, feel free to ask me any questions in the comments section below!