Can I replacing a built in controller for my ring light with ESP32

I want to use this ring light with a WLED controller. I have experimented around with the lights and I can’t get the esp to control the LEDs in the light. I can add a strip of ws2813s to it and the standard controller will run those lights. There are 3 light sets on the assembly: bright white, yellow white, and the RGB. From the image below of the controller PCB, you can see it is using 5 wires [D0, GND, W, Y, +].

I would assume that if I attached my voltage in to Gnd/+ and my data from the ESP32 to D0 I would be able to control the RGB lights. I assume the W and Y can also be handled by the WLED but I am not sure how to set this all up or if it’s possible. Any advice?

The light assembly:

Seems like a nanoleaf clone I have and the whites are PWM, so you would need driver transistors for those.

First guess would be the D0 input is a standard WS281x RGB strip and W & Y are PWMW strips of different colour whites.

It’s very likely that a standard WLED ESP32 can control the D0 channel.
I would check the voltage from GND to V+ (from the look of your pic I’d say it’s pretty well straight from the power/wall wart).
If you’re at 5V you can probably hook an ESP32 right across that supply, if it’s more you’ll need a regulator.

Once you’ve got power locked in, try a connection from the programmed WLED WS281x pin to the blue D0 wire. I would expect you to have full colour control, although you may have to experiment with the RGB/GRB setting on the pin definition.

Similarly I’d expect a pin set to PWMW could control the W and Y lines although they would likely need to be through a current driver as tonyno has suggested.

Where might I find information on these transistors? I am not sure what I would need to get to add that into my wiring.

I don’t really see anything about where to get driver transistors or how they would be wired in on the wiki. So maybe I am missing something.

Part 1., 2nd image and associated text talks about analog LED control.

1 Like

Specifically, the reference to “IRLZ44N” Mosfets would apply.
In your case you would have one Mosfet for each of the W and Y strings.
Very possibly you’ll need to work out operating voltages and whether or not the string is simple Series, Parallel or some combination.

1 Like

Thanks, I am not fluent in this terminology so I didn’t realize that diagram was showing transistors.

I can force the white and yellow lights to turn on with a jumper to the 5v line. Probably bad to do that but I experimented a bit.

I will try removing the soldering tonight and see if I can get the rgb side working.

Are you sure the V+ is 5V?

Are you measuring with a voltmeter or reading the Wall Wart and assuming?
As I said earlier from what I can see of the PCB it looks like the input power just goes straight through.
But having done this for a little while, if it’s easy to check - check.

Be interested to see what it does.
Is there any way to glimpse a part# on the IC on the PCB?
That might go a long way towards getting some specs.

I have measured with my multimeter and it’s around 5v. I don’t see any markings on the IC.

I found this

Is this basically a input, gnd, output kind of thing?

With N-Channel Mosfets in switching configuration a crude analogy would be to a relay.
Apply a voltage above the turn-on value to the Gate and the Drain effectively shorts to the Source.

The reality is waaaay more complicated, but if you chose a device that can handle the expected current flow, AND the applied voltage is well above the minimum turn-on AND you include the Gate pulldown resistor to really force the switch off (another Mosfet quirk) you can use the relay analogy.

I am guessing that the transistor purpose is to kill the signal in some way. For example, I can wire up the negative and positive to my power supply and then touch the data line from the esp to the white light and turn them on, but wled power button does not turn them off. So wled controls the transistor and it allows the signal through or not I guess.

No, the white ones are analog. They use PWM and not 5V data like addressables.

I understand that they do not use the signal but it will turn them on, they are just not very bright. I am just trying to understand the purpose of the transistor and how the controller and light interact with it.

For context, 20 years ago I was an electronic technician. I gave that up when I became a software engineer. I used to teach people transistor theory. But I have forgotten all that mess until recently when I became interested in playing with lights. You would be surprised how much you can forget in 20 years.

As mentioned above, think of the transistor as a relay, controlling power to the LEDs.

Okay, I think I get it. So the 5v and gnd are applied to the transistor with a control signal from the esp. The esp is controlling the gate in the transistor to provide the 5v to the analog lights. Essentially acting as a relay. I will also need a resister to stabilize the circuit.