I have a Raspberry Pi laying around right now that I'd like to put to use, and I'm also going to be buying a string of digital LED pixels from Adafruit (the string of 25 WS2801 pixels).

I know I can easily control the pixels from the Arduino based on the Adafruit tutorial, but I'd prefer not to buy a new Arduino if I can do this from the Pi.

Based on several projects I've seen, such as PixelPi, it's obviously possible, but because I have no space for a soldering iron (I live in a dorm hall, and stuff like that is not allowed for obvious reasons), so I can't do any soldering. I would like to be able to learn how to solder and simply go to a hacker space, but I don't see having that much time any time in the near future...

Is there a way to connect the RGB pixels to the Raspberry Pi without any soldering? The only way I could think of doing that would be to use some sort of adapter for the header pins so I can push the wires into them (without having to solder), but I'm not experienced enough with electronics to know exactly what to look for...

Alternatively, if no one knows a way, I guess I might as well just spend the extra $20 and get an Arduino...

  • \$\begingroup\$ Ah, this is what I was referring to: adafruit.com/products/826. Would this work to connect the Raspberry Pi to the LED pixels? \$\endgroup\$
    – Andrew M
    Jan 31, 2013 at 1:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ The headers on the Raspberry Pi are male headers, so you'll need a female connector. This is what you want: adafruit.com/products/914 or adafruit.com/products/1105. You will have to assemble either kit though. If your school has an EE program maybe you can visit one of their classrooms to use their equipment. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 31, 2013 at 3:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ * with permission, of course \$\endgroup\$ Jan 31, 2013 at 3:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SimpleCoder - Hell with that, break in, and if your project turns out awesome enough, I bet they'll be ok with it. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 31, 2013 at 4:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SimpleCoder The afterthought with permission, of course made me laugh. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 31, 2013 at 4:22

1 Answer 1


Without using a soldering iron, you can connect a Pi to some LEDs and resistors etc using

  • a Raspberry Pi
  • some male to female jumper cables (example)
  • a small breadboard (example)

pi breadboard
(photo from RPi SE)

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    \$\begingroup\$ I actually solve the problem a while ago with electrical tape and jumper cables-to-wire (since I didn't want to use a breadboard), as seen here: andrewmunsell.com/blog/raspberry-pi-leds. Since then, I've gone ahead and cleaned everything up by using heatshrink and hot glue to keep everything in place, and I actually do have access to a soldering iron now so I could potentially finish it off properly. I'm going to mark this answer as correct because it's the best (proper) way to do it w/o a soldering iron. \$\endgroup\$
    – Andrew M
    Jul 8, 2013 at 22:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ Don't get a small breadboard though. Get a big breadboard (or at least a medium sized one) and you'll be glad you have the space. (Don't get the stupidly expensive big ones either) \$\endgroup\$
    – user253751
    Jan 23, 2018 at 21:49

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