RGB LED Color Sequencer - Without a Microprocessor





Introduction: RGB LED Color Sequencer - Without a Microprocessor

Display the color combinations of color LEDs without using a microprocessor.

Using a single logic chip which costs under 50-cents, you can make a simple color cycle display for RGB LEDs. The multiple taps along the top are used to 'program' the display for sequence and brightness.

Step 1: The Parts

You will need:

RGB LED - I used one purchased here. This is a common anode version, so if you have a different configuration, you must adjust the connections.
1 x 74HC04 Hex Inverter IC chip (p/n 771-74HC04N, by NXP is 30-cents at Mouser)
3 x 0.1uF capacitors
R1 - 10M-ohm resistor
R2 - 6.8M-ohm
R3 - 3.3M-ohm
R - 12 pcs of 100-ohm resistor for the Programming tree. I used 120-ohm resistors which I got free.
2 x "AA" batteries and suitable holder.

Perfboard, wire, supplies, etc.

I've also used sockets for the IC and the LED, which I've found to be quite sensitive to heat.

Step 2: Assembly

Here is a diagram showing the parts and how they are wired.

The yellow lines are jumpers connecting pins 2&13; 4&11 and 6&9 on the underside. The 0.1uF capacitors are similarly connected under the socket (pin 1&12; 3&10 and 5&8). Make sure the wires do not touch.

The Jumper wires can be inserted anywhere on the 'programming panel' to adjust the brightness and speed of the color changes.

Step 3: The Final Touch...

Now, slip a length of heat-shrink tubing over the LED as a light diffuser, and you are done!

Light on!

More LED circuits are here on my website.



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    Thanx...How do we modify to slow and smooth the color changes without deceasing the brightness?

    Can I do this with a common cathode instead of common anode rgb led?

    Hi, how can you change the frequency of the colour sequence? Say, I want the whole cycle to be completed in 15 seconds until it starts a new cycle.
    Also, do you have a clearer schematic?
    I am confused about where the other ends of the jumper wires go (the end where it is not connected to the leds), and the four resistors that are in series for each of the 3 circuits. . Do you need each node between the resistors to go to a pin? Because they don't seem to be used

    What is the name of that 12 hole/pin socket above the resistors? I cannot find it online.

    I have a few DM7404N's. I believe these will work in place of 74HC04's am I right? If you are using only 3 volts, that voltage would be inbtween the min and max voltages. What do you think?

    2 replies

    No, the TTL 7404 will not function in this circuit. The CMOS version is required.

    Ok cool. Thank you for answering my question. Ill get the correct chip. And thanks for a great instructable!


    Unfortunately, only the HC04 will work. The bipolar transistor versions of the 7404 have the wrong input impedence and operating voltage. 

    I can use a 4049 in place of the 74hc04 am I correct ?


    In this application, provided you are careful about the voltages and pinouts (they're VERY different!), the 4049 can be substituted.

    Alright thank you, i know that the 4049 pinouts are different, but what do you mean about voltage, do you use 5volts, because the 4049 can handle that, and what is the point of the 3 different resistors, i was going to use 3 10m ohm resistors, what will it change?


    The 4049 can handle higher Vs but the 3v to the LEDs is at the absolute low end of its operating range. The 3 resistors are chosen to maintain a constantly changing cycle of colors. If they are too close (or the same), the color variations will be EXTREMELY slow, probably in the minutes.

    alright i just stiched this together using 2 10mohm resitors, the only thing is they are all channging at a desirable rate, but they only change on and off, they dont fade, when i put more or less capacitance in they just stay lit, how would i get the fade effect?


    Ahh, in the circuit, there should be a 500uF (up to 3000uF, 6v or greater) caps going from the Cathode of each of Red, Green and Blue to the Anode. So you would need three such capacitors ... Sorry, the images got changed and I never noticed.

    hallo again...
    could that be the speed and the brightness controller is change with a dial/pot?

    1 reply

    You could replace 3 of the 100-ohm resistors with a 1k pot (you'll need 3 pots, 1 for each color), but the effects are not much better.

    hallo qs..
    nice work again...

    by the way, i want to know that, if can i use 3 (rgb) single 3 mm led for replacing the led that you are using?
    it is hard to find that superflux led on my little town,

    sorry for my english...

    1 reply

    As long as they are 20mA LEDs in a "Common Anode" form, they will be fine.

    Will this make a smooth slow transition between colors or does it quickly change colors?