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In a post from March 2014 regarding candle-flicker circuits, Passerby included a photo of the sort of thing that manufacturers pair with LEDs to produce LED "candles".

This is the original thread - sorry but I don't know how to reference a single post: Smallest, simplest possible (randomly) flashing 2-3 LED circuit

This is a copy of the submitted photo:

flickering LED circuitry

My question is, What would it be called if I went to Digikey and so on to do a search for this sort of component? Since there is a photo of it, I assume one can purchase such units, but what are they called?

I can't use commercial LEDs because the largest LED I can use in my miniatures is an 0603 SMD although 0402 is a much better size. Using multiple commercial LEDs to control the correct size LEDs takes up far too much space in my miniatures and wastes far too much battery energy.

So that's the reason I'm asking what exactly is the name of such units/components

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    \$\begingroup\$ These LEDs are much larger than 0603. \$\endgroup\$
    – Hearth
    Commented May 27 at 1:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ I removed that part of your question relating to where one can buy this item. Such questions are off-topic on this website and will be closed. The question of "what is this called", is, however a question that my get answers here. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 27 at 1:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ For reference, consider editing the question to include a link to the original post from Passerby. On a quick search couldn't find the original post. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 27 at 6:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ OK, sorry about the errors; I think I've fixed them. The general name is the gist, because then I can do searches. - Kris \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 27 at 16:24

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The photo is of an addressable LED. There are three LED dies (red, green and blue) and a controller chip.

It would be connected to an MCU chip which can control the brightness of each individual RGB color individually. They can be daisy-chained so a fair number of them can be controlled by just a single MCU output pin.

Smallest ones I've seen are around 6 x 2 mm but shop around if you like.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you, Sphero!!! "MCU chip" give me a good place to begin my search. That might seem to be an obvious name but I'm primarily an arts/languages/"right brain" person who has worked hard to learn even the miniscule amount of electronics I have... ...so again, thank you! The size you mention is small enough that I can put it into the base of a miniature, and then do what I do with "static" LEDs and "snake" the fine wires through the construct to where I want to place the 0402 LED itself. - Kris \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 27 at 16:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ If that's your background you might want to look at Arduinos and Espressif modules which have libraries to allow easy control of addressable LEDs. They are very popular in the 'maker' community so there is a vibrant ecosystem of support and products. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 27 at 16:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you again, Sphero - I tried looking at Arduino, but it was too "black box" and confusing to me, plus, it seemed as though I'd have to spend $40 or more just to make some tiny LEDs flicker. What I did find, though, based upon searching the phrase "MCU chip" that you'd mentioned, is an excellent article: "10 Types of Microcontrollers: A Comprehensive Guide for Beginners", which is clarifying a number of things for me. There are also other very helpful "building block"-type explanations for beginners at [link] (theengineeringknowledge.com) if I have the format correct. - Kris \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 27 at 18:47
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The black rectangle in your photo is an unpackaged IC "die" - probably a custom circuit for that application.

The bare die will not be available in small quantities. If you could obtain some, you would require wire bonding capabilities to use them. The gold bond wires connecting the die to the LED dice are microscopic, and you need specialized tools working under a powerful microscope to make the bonds.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks Peter B. - I hadn't known that term, so learning it helped me in my searches! - Kris \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 27 at 20:41
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WS2812 from the question

The component in the question could be a WS2812 from world-semi. The datasheet contains the following diagram, which seems to match the layout of the device pictured in the question:

enter image description here

The size of the WS2812 is 5.0 mm by 5.0 mm, so too large for the application which can fit a maximum of 0603 SMD components.

Smaller WS2812B-2020

world-semi also have the WS2812B-2020, which also contains three LED dies (red, green and blue) and a controller chip. The datasheet shows the WS2812B-2020 has a smaller package and only 4 pins, instead of 6:

enter image description here

The WS2812B-2020 has a lower Luminous intensity and lower current than the WS2812. From a quick look at the datasheets, both devices support being cascaded and have the same Data Transmission Method.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ THANK YOU Chester! That's actually quite valuable to me because gives me a place to start my search. - Kris \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 27 at 16:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ @BirdsInMyBrain I updated the answer to include a smaller RGB addressable LED, if that helps in the search. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 27 at 16:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks, Chester! It does help - knowing about various options and what they're called has been a huge help! I've been finding a lot of great information about what the different parts do and what types of microcontrollers I can learn to use, with special focus on the "PIC12F675",and "PICkit3" to program it - which is literally 100% more than I knew when I posted my crazy question yesterday! Every reply people have so kindly posted has - pardon the awful pun - illuminated what started out as a simple "what is this LED thingy" question ;) \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 27 at 20:40
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The smallest addressable LED I'm aware of is the 1.1x1.1mm variant of the SK6805. You can buy them from all the usual places.

However, you will need a microcontroller and a library such as WLED or fastLED to control them. Make sure you have room in your device for that.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you, user1850479! That's definitely helpful in giving me additional terms to search on. - Kris \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 27 at 16:20

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