Quick & Easy RGB-LED Tester





Introduction: Quick & Easy RGB-LED Tester

Have you ever built a project with a lot of LEDs, and found out that one of the LEDs was defective? Although it's somewhat rare, there are some defective LEDs when you go through hundreds of them. I found that RGB-LED have high defect rate, most likely due to the fact that each of them has three LEDs (R,G,B) in them.

I have had a few situations where one of the RGB LEDs was not working fully, and having to desolder to remove it. Here because RGB LEDs have four leads instead of two, desoldering is difficult.

So here's the quick & easy RGB-LED test that I build on a breadboard. You can build this in less than 15 minutes and save a big hassle later!

Step 1: Putting It Together

Here's the part list:

1x Breadboard (small one is fine)
1x PIC16F627, 628A or 648A
1x 0.1 uF capacitor
1x 20 k ohm resistor
3x 220 ohm resistors
3x 470 ohm resistors
3x 120 ohm resistors
some jumper wires
1x 5V regulated power supply or 4x NiMH batteries in a holder

You'll also need a programmer capable of programming PIC microcontrollers, such as MPLAB ICD or PICKit.

As you can see, the circuit & construction is very simple. Once you have the parts, just put them on a breadboard in 5 minutes! Use the picture as the reference.

Then fire up your programmer and you are ready to go.

This unit is made to test common cathode type RGB LEDs, however, it's very easy to change the firmware to test common anode types. (No hardware change needed.) (See the update below)

Schematic and source code (assembly) are provided for those who are interested, but no need to look if you just want to get going with your LED testing...

Update: Source code has been updated to be able to switch between common Cathode and common Anode type LEDs. Change the following line in the source:

COM_ANODE    equ    0


COM_ANODE    equ    1

to make it common Anode tester.

Step 2: Put It to Work!

That's it! Connect some RGB LEDs - they will go through all 7 combination of colors.

See it in action.



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    Hello i will be glad if i can have your code i drive a PIC 16 F 886 that only has one module but i am really courious how you change the colors thanks in advice

    Can we use pic16f690 for the job ???
    and how is going to affect to the project ???

    I'm sure you can. THe change to the code should be very minor - like changing the header file, and possibly changing the pin assignments.

    How would you make them fade in and out?

    The PIC has a PWM module, so you can use it. But to fade many LEDs can be hard, and that lead me to develop Aurora 9x18...


    Will this circuit work with a 16c711 chip?

    Thanks! Your instructable just helped me to understand a great deal about how to write a simple program and actually programming a PIC. I had to look up and research the datasheets and other guides to learn how to program. I had to learn about the MCLR function. I had to learn to navigate the PIC software I was using and the process involved there.

    This simple project inspired me to learn way more than you would have guessed. I hope I learn enough to be half as good as your skill level. Thanks again. If I wore a hat I'd tip it to you. You'll be seeing my LED projects with a little more flair from now on.


    Great! I'm glad that it worked. Thank you for showing me the result.

    Working with actual projects is the best way to learn. Looking forward to seeing your future instructables.


    Okay, the LEDs were my problem. I just got them from radioshack, and they did not say, but a comment for them says that they are common anode, not common cathode. I wouldn't be able to ask you how to change the firmware to common anode, could I? That would be awesome, because I admit very little knowledge of software writing.