November 9th, 2010

ShiftBrite Strips

We love LEDs, and apparently so do most of our clients. While there are quite a few professional lighting solutions available, they’re cost and lack of transparency have often turned us off. We don’t always wish to have a computer act as the main controller of the lights, and more times than none we want to build in some form of interaction. So, on our quest for a lighting solution that addresses all our needs, we stumbled upon these great LED units called ShiftBrites from Macetech. Each unit contains a RGB LED and an Allegro A6281 LED controller. You communicate with it using four-wire SPI and you can daisy chain the LEDs to create long strings for scalability. In short, these things rule.

Shiftbrite LED

Ok yeah, we said they rule and they do, but finding a good way of arranging them into different shapes so we can create actual, solid light fixtures is tougher. You can use those colored six-wire cables but unless you enjoy creating a ball of Christmas lights out of these things, the cables don’t cut it either. This is about the moment we decided that if something didn’t exist out there to help us make the light fixtures we wanted, we would have to create our own solution. The ShiftBrite Strip is the answer to our woes.

ShiftBrite Strip

The ShiftBrite Strip is a custom circuit board that holds up to 12 ShiftBrite LEDs and functions in the same way as daisy chaining 12 ShiftBrites with the color six-wire cables from Macetech. The strips are 12 inches in length and can also be daisy chained themselves to create a stiff light fixture of any number of feet. Each strip is littered with mounting holes to make it easy to mount to anything you’d like. Each mounting hole is 0.125″ round and is located every 1/2″ starting a 1/4″ from either end of the board. The holes begin at 1/4″ because it allows the hole spacing to be consistent across strips. Each LED is located every 1″ starting a 1/2″ from either end of the board so lighting is consistent across boards as well.

ShiftBrite Strip jumpers

Under each ShiftBrite LED space are four solder jumpers. These jumpers allow for an arrangement of LEDs aside from the typical 12 in a row. You can put 6 LEDs, one every other position, and connect the solder jumpers either with solder or a 0 ohm resistor to achieve a wider spread of LEDs.

ShiftBrite Documentation / Code Example


  • ShiftBrite Strip(s)
  • 6-position female headers, 0.1″ spacing, straight through hole, 2 for every LED (Digikey Part #S7004-ND)
  • 6-position male headers, 0.1″ spacing, right angle through hole, 1 for every strip you plan to use (Digikey Part #A19454-ND)
  • 5.5 – 9V power supply, about 1 amp required per strip if using full RGB capabilities of each LED
  • A microcontroller, like the Arduino

Strip and Arduino
Wire close-up
Moey logo
ShiftBrite Strip logo
Light test

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by Rory | Posted in Tools | No Comments » | Tags: , , ,


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