PSA: Don't buy Athom

I’m here to announce that purchasing any Athom Tech WLED products will result in a significant loss in your time and productivity.

My hope was that, since they are one of the very few brands who are selling all-in-one boxes (wled, sound, variable voltage 5-24, ir, etc, in a nice container with a button) that it would be a good product, not just a good list of things that would be great to have. Hopes dashed.

Most of my experience has been with their addressable controller, but I’ve also had busted products with their addressable/analog hybrid controller, as well as with their 7w bulbs.

The TLDR is: You have a high percentage chance of receiving malfunctioning equipment because either their QC department is nonexistent or their circuitry engineering is half-assed or their components are garbage.

Here are my statistics on products ordered and rate of malfunction:

  • 22 Addressable Controllers

    • 1 Shorted the first time I powered it on and never powered back on

    • 8 have exhibited the multi-color bad data signal issues which are rampant in these threads for various reasons. I have tested every which way to ascertain that it is the controller and not wiring, LED hardware, wiring distance, interference, house power problems, powersupply malfunction, etc.

    • Success rate: 59%.

    • Wasted $250 and countless hours trouble shooting.

  • 3 Addressable/Analog Hybrids

    • 1 Functions correctly, except that it reboots 5-10 seconds after calling any effect while trying to run a SINGLE 5V RGBW LED in analog mode. Have tried various firmwares up and down, have tried every setting and every variance of settings. I tested one of the other two functioning controllers on the exact same LED, and it functioned fine.

    • The other two do technically function, although for some reason on one of them, while I can upload and view custom color palettes, actually enabling them with any effect or preset does not have the desired color results, and instead seems to either mess up the effects called, or trigger undesired colors, mostly white and red and orange, which also animation-wise don’t correspond to the called effect. Pre-installed palettes work just fine, custom palettes do not. (all of my uses require custom palettes, so this is a deal breaker). Again, tried every version of settings, reloaded palettes and rebooted several times in several firmwares, no look.

    • Success rate: 66% KINDA, but really because of the palette issue, 33%.

  • 2 7W WLED bulbs

    • 1 Crashed and burned when trying to update firmware. Went into some standby mode where it just flashed orange, off, red over and over. AP would not load, reset sequence did seem to reset the bulb, but only into the color sequence I described. The chip that they have inside the bulb seems entirely inaccessible without breaking the boards themselves to get to the pins, so gave up on that.

    • 1 successfully uploaded latest firmware, but same problem as above, did not have any success implementing custom palettes, so this device is useless to me.

    • Success rate: 0%

Tale of the Addressable Controllers:

The majority of what I’m attempting to procure controllers for is to retrofit various LED lights that I already had (primarily Govee Products). When I first began the process, the very first controller I unboxed caused a 6’ Neon-style strip to flicker up and down, and I spent a day or more researching and trying various power supplies and the shortest (think 3 inches from LED to controller) cable runs possible, etc etc etc, before I got frustrated and tried the next box and VOILA, it worked no problem. So I marked that box “bad? test.” After I went through the other 6 boxes (I had ordered 8 total this time), I had marked just one more “bad.” OK, 75% success rate? ehhh ok? is this normal? Must be a fluke right?

Because of the ease of the all-in-one set up process, I decided to take a chance and order more hoping that I had just gotten some bad apples. The next batch then 7 more failing units. By the way, included in that second round were 2 replacement units from the first round, ONE OF WHICH ALSO FAILED.

The problem definitely seems to be some sort of signal interference on the board itself. There’s a wild thing that occurs in most of the troubled units, in fact, where it will function perfectly fine on one area of table (have tested on SEVERAL surfaces and environments: wood, plastic, granite, bricks, etc), but move it a few inches, and it’ll go insane. Sometimes, a unit will function perfectly fine if I’m holding it, and freak out if I put it down—sometimes, the other way around. Some would fritz out only if I pick up in my right hand, but not my left. None of these behaviors are exactly repeatable or predictable. For example, I had one controller work for several days and through 3 different events where I was using it, and then suddenly it was all problems. The 8 that “failed” I consider unsatisfactory because they exhibit data corruption behavior within 10 seconds of powerup and do so consistently while powered on regardless of effect, palette, brightness, or LED type or voltage.

TROUBLE SHOOTING METHODOLOGY:

I tested and iterated all of the following potential failure points

  • Wire Gauge

  • Wire Length

  • Data wire bundled with +/gnd or not

  • Jst Connectors

  • LED hardware

  • Power supplies

  • House Power Supply (Have tested at three different homes)

  • Data voltage Drop (finally received the QuinLED data booster as my final test, and even with that, no luck).

  • Cross testing various LED voltages, types, chips, etc, across the truly functioning units.

After all of this, I can confidently and frustratedly declare that these products are dogsh!t.

Will be hoping and praying that Gledopto doesn’t suck.

@ QUINDOR, I love your products so much, but can you please make the DigUno or a board of equal capability in a similar case? Most of what I use WLED for is temporary installations of LED units in homes and venues for parties and displays, and having a bunch of microchips and wires visible is just not a good look. I’d happily buy your superior product if I didn’t have to figure out some 3D printer or 3rd party case option for each unit.

Ok DON’T BUY ATHOM.

//End Rant.

Good luck everyone.

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oh wow, seems so badly designed / produced.

I bought the Gledopto GL-C-008WL ( https://nl.aliexpress.com/item/1005005861600793.html ) and just received it - one piece - I will try this out next couple of days.

About four years ago I purchased 3 Gledopto 5 channel zigbee (Hue compatible) controllers for some RGB-CCT strips I installed in my kitchen. They have worked well ever since.

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Such a shame. This is why I rolled my own…

Feel free to DM me if you want some pointers on full DIY boards :slight_smile:

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You will literally never receive that DM from me. The whole point of buying the all-in-one is because since I have done the entire process DIY once (successfully, btw, fine great woopdiedoo), I determined my time and money were better spent freeing myself up to do creative things with tech, rather than hand assembling basic components to create the tech that already exists as a product (albeit unreliable af).

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Several people reporting issues with gledopto on Discord (seems like no LLC, but they say they have one). I’d avoid until more is known.

Who said anything about hand assembling? I designed my own esp32 wled controller boards and had them made in china (pretty cheap too)

I have severe nerve damage I my hands, I haven’t got time to solder either

Oh I misunderstood what you meant. I wouldn’t even know where to begin on that design process. I’m not computer or electrical engineer. Is that something you’d be willing to do for me for a fee?

We can definitely talk about something, this is what I’ve made for my uses:

Send me a DM with what you’d need spec wise and we can go from there…

I was hoping to make a more modular unit to sell until I saw the list here: Compatible controllers - WLED Project

Just so hit and miss to find ones that aren’t cheap and filled with issues as you’ve found

Dont think a zigbee module from 4 years ago is a measure how a 2024 wifi product will be?
plus; i have about 20 gledopto zigbee “pro” units that all work fine. I control them over zigbee reliably and they also have a 433 MHz remote.

So last week I tried the GL-C-008WL. It has two GPIO connections; GPIO2 and GPIO5. there is also a button, usually that is GPIO0 (zero). WLED software is pre-installed and it’s ready to roll, had it up and running in minutes. I think it is a very nice unit, rather then fiddling with software and the soldering job it is plug and play.

Then a word about the “level shifter” 5Volt data output. Mind you the protocol of adressable LED’s is extremely simple, but high speed timed-bits. a long high is a “1” and a short high is a “0” and that at 800Mbit / s, the timing difference between a “1” and a "0 " being 0,4 us (microseconds). These speedy level changes are susceptable to capacitive loads; parallel wires. Also susceptable for interference. I think the best “remedy” is to use twisted pair wiring for data; data and ground.

I was merely commenting on the good experience I have had with the brand. That’s all.

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I have about 5 pcs of Athom Wled controller from Athom you have linked in your post and I must say they work fine for me. I have updated with the latest wled fw, I don’t need the SR function. I use WS2811 24V COB led strips and I am very happy with them. I used in Chrismtas time one more SR controller with WS2811 led strings for xmas decoration outdoor light and it worked pretty fine. Now I bought one Gledopto WLED controller (GLE-REL-C010WL) and I connected it to a WS2814 strip. I had to update the fw on the controller that has lost its SR function in order to get the swap function on the white channel. The Gledopto and the Athom controllers are the same for me both brands work fine with the strips.

I have started switching over to the Gledopto units, I really like the twin outputs meaning I can run in both directions and double the distance before needing injection (but mostly use 12V now so less of a problem).

But have also just ordered some of these:

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Can you expand on this technique? you mean simply twisting the ground and data cables together from where they exit the controller? and before they plug into whatever strip or unit?

Can you explain how this works or if I’m misinterpreting this so understand better? thanks.

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Correct! Just like network cable

The better, more complex way is to treat your data wire as if it’s antenna signal, with “shielded” or “coaxial” wire. Data wire inside, ground/minus on the outer shield.

How did these go? I am using the Athom ones currently and honestly out of the 6 I have they work awesome, But worried about sustainability incase the ever stop manufacturing or if any of the kits I give out develop issues I don’t want to be running around playing tech support.

I’d love to know if using twister pair wiring helped, this is what I’m already using in my kits so I may have dodged this bullet early if that’s the main root cause of your failing ones.

Can’t send a DM on here but if you’re on discord I’d be interested in something like this, Getting something custom to my needs done, it would essentially be exactly what these kits are or closer to the SJM Electronics in here does : Compatible controllers - WLED Project