back to article Pimoroni PiGlow: Rainbow LED swirls for the Raspberry Pi

Pimoroni is without doubt one of the most colourful companies to have come to market in support of the growing community of Raspberry Pi fans. The firm shot to fame last year when it released Pibow, one of the first cases for the Pi. The box, made in Pimoroni’s Sheffield HQ, is a perspex affair formed from layers of laser- …


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  1. Pete 2 Silver badge

    LED strips

    If you want some serious LED flashing, have a look at the WS2812 based RGB LED strips.

    Like this product, they are controllable from a serial bus and can be got either as strips up to 4m long (at 60 LEDs per metre, each one RGB with a built in controller chip) or the more interesting-looking 16x16 squares.

    Though given the Amperage these could suck, you'll need a much better power supply to drive them.

  2. TallPaul

    Oh that's cute. Going to have some fun with that! Took your advice ordered two: one for me, one for my nephew.

  3. Indolent Wretch

    Current Shmeakage

    I don't think your article makes it entirely clear that although there appeared to be current leakage between the blue and white LEDs that it was (almost certainly) just the blue light from the blue LEDs exciting the phosphor on the white LEDs. The honking great picture between the concern and the denouement didn't help. Seems a nice product, I think it would be nice to clarify there isn't an electrical problem

  4. PeakAtlas

    There's no current leakage

    As Indolent Wretch said, there is absolutely no current leakage between the white and blue LEDs. It is purely blue light hitting the phosphor coating in the white LEDs. I've confirmed that on my Piglow by 'shading' the lit blue LEDs with a tube (from a pen). Most tech savvy folk will be aware of this phenomenon, it's how white LEDs are made after all.

    1. JeffyPoooh

      Re: There's no current leakage

      "'s how most white LEDs are made after all."

      There, I fixed it for you.

      Most white LEDs are phosphor based. But I have some R+G+B = White LEDs, so I know that there is another way.

      1. PeakAtlas

        Re: There's no current leakage

        Hi JeffyPoooh,

        Yes, you are correct RGB LEDs can indeed be used to make white.

        I guess I was referring to LEDs that are commonly known as "white LEDs", the only type that I've seen actually marketed (or advertised) as "white LEDs" are one's that are made with a blue LED under a phosphor. I could be wrong (I am frequently wrong), but that was my interpretation of the term "white LED". However, I do 100% agree with you that RGB LEDs (and indeed YB) can be used to make varieties of white light.

        Forgive me if my original post didn't come across well, I wasn't making a criticism. The purpose of my post was to confirm what another poster had said, by experiment, that the white LEDs glowing when their neighboring blue LEDs were lit was not due to leakage current but by the same mechanism that causes common white LEDs to work.

  5. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
    Paris Hilton


    I have searched for sites like this before, why does my Google skills suck so much these days :(

  6. Gordon Henderson

    And for those who want to program it in C/C++

    then there's wiringPi, complete with a command-line utility to let you play with it from bash scripts too.


  7. kiwimuso

    Ummmm. And the purpose for this is........

    What exactly?

    Serious question. So you need a board which will flash lights. Why?

    1. C 18

      Do or do not...

      ...there is no why.

    2. James Hughes 1


      Odd question. Why have a mobile phone? Why read fiction? Why have hobbies? Why climb mountains? Why race cars?

      All very similar questions, with similar answers.

      1. kiwimuso

        Re: @kiwimuso @James Hughes 1

        What an odd reply.

        My question is not odd at all to my mind, and was seriously asked.

        I have a mobile phone so that I can make and receive calls. I read fiction because I enjoy reading and being entertained. I also have hobbies which actually have a point to them unlike a this which seems to be a board that flashes some LEDs.

        Again I ask, to what purpose? Just so you can say "Oooh, look at the flashing lights that I haven't even made myself, but bought from someone else."

        While mountain climbing is not my thing, I can see the attraction and point of climbing one. One races cars, presumably to get the thrill of a) speed, or b) the thrill of competition, which of course can also be achieved in other ways and with some more cerebral pursuits such as chess - again not my thing.

        I am really struggling to understand why this was worthy of being reported. I can't even find a suitable icon to go with this.

        1. Chezstar

          Re: @kiwimuso @James Hughes 1

          I like learning programming, but I have nerve damage in my hands and thus can't solder things, at least without releasing a lot of blue smoke and flames.

          I do however have a Raspberry Pi, and I have 9 quid in my pocket, and I find that learning to code software is so much more fun when there is swirly coloured feedback.

          I'm guessing you have never tried to teach a kid. I dare you, hand a 12 year old a programming book, and I will put money on it that you would come back in 5 minutes to find them using it as a pillow. Give them a programming book, and a 9 quid part that gives swirly, flashy lights, and you are more likely to engage them, educate them, and entertain them.

          Useage case? Need more? Sorry if you have no use for it, but given:

          A) The build quality on Pimoroni's stuff (It's great. Small business that CARES about its work)

          B) The simple price for a basic part

          I, and indeed, a lot of other people will buy these for themselves, for their inquisitive kids who want to learn programming, and probably for a heap of other reasons not yet figured out.

          I have no use for a pacemaker at the moment, so I condemn any website that reports on them. How dare they waste my time. I can find a suitable icon for your post, I even attached it to mine for your use.

          1. kiwimuso

            Re: @kiwimuso @James Hughes 1

            Hi chezstar.

            You should have stopped while you were ahead. You gave a reasonable answer in your first 2 paragraphs, then rather spoilt it all on an irrelevant rant toward my question.

            It's funny, but I didn't need flashing lights to learn programming - or retain an interest in it. I just had plain old-fashioned curiosity and an old-fashioned decent attention span

            You've now given me the answer as to why stereos now come complete with flashing lights in their speaker cabinets.

            Not quite sure where pacemakers come into it. Do they have swirly lights as well?

        2. PeakAtlas

          Re: @kiwimuso @James Hughes 1

          Hi Kiwimuso,

          I can understand the question about what the PiGlow is really for and also why someone would want one. However, I do "kind of" have a genuine use for it. Admittedly though, I was initially attracted to it simply because it's neat and pretty.

          I now use mine to show the 100mS ticking of my task scheduler of a program that I've written on my Pi. A simple pattern is incremented on each step of the scheduler. The program looks after a variety of tasks including the control of some PIC based devices (that I've made myself), polling for emails, taking pictures with the raspi-cam and ftp tasks. All of those tasks can run without the monitor or keyboard being in the way. So a brief look at the PiGlow will tell me if the task scheduler is still running. If not, I know which task has caused an exception. I can then use a monitor and keyboard to do some further investigations or add some more exception handling as I slowly make the system more and more robust.

          But ultimately it will be permanently "head-less" and I'll just rely on the PiGlow to be sure it's running just fine. Most of the time, the LEDs are on about 5% brightness, so it doesn't cause undue distraction in my study.



    3. A J Stiles

      Because It's There

      Same reason why people climb mountains: Because It's There.

    4. Pookietoo

      Re: And the purpose for this is.....

      To make Raspberry Pi as cool as Dr. Theopolis, of course.

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