Introduction: See the Rainbow With the RGB LED

Picture of See the Rainbow With the RGB LED

The following information is a single lesson in a larger project. Find more great projects here.

Return to Previous Lesson: Working in Parallel

Lesson Overview:

Now we'll learn to control and RGB LED!

Step 1: Introduction

Picture of Introduction

In this lesson you’ll learn about a special case of LEDs in parallel: the red-green-blue LED.

The red-green-blue (RGB) LED has 3 colored LEDs packaged on the same module. All three colored LEDs share a negative (ground) electrode, and have separate positive electrodes.

You can turn on 1, 2, or 3 different colored LEDs at the same time to create custom colors.

  1. Press the "next" button below to continue.

Step 2: Mixing Colors

Picture of Mixing Colors

You can practice using the RGB LED by controlling each colored LED with an individual switch.

All of the necessary components are provided in the Workplane. You just need to draw traces using the Conductive Pen!

  1. Use the Conductive Pen to connect the + terminal of the battery to the left terminals of each switch.
  2. Connect the right terminal of the top switch to the RGB LED terminal labeled “blue.”
  3. Connect the right terminal of the middle switch to the RGB LED terminal labeled “green.”
  4. Connect the right terminal of the bottom switch to the RGB LED terminal labeled “red.”
  5. Finally, connect the ground terminal of the RGB to the (-) terminal of the battery.
  6. Press the "next" button below to continue.

Step 3: Simulating the Circuit

Picture of Simulating the Circuit

Your circuit should look like the example below. If you need to, you can delete traces and re-draw them before simulating the circuit.

Simulate the circuit and watch it come to life! Use the three switches to mix red, green, and blue light together.

Can you tell if the switches in series or parallel? (see hint)

  1. Click the Start Simulation button.
  2. Click on the SPST switches to open and close them.
  3. Watch what happens to the RGB LED when you change the combined inputs.
  4. Press the "next" button below to continue.
  5. Stuck? HINT: The switches are in parallel.

Step 4: Customizing the RGB Circuit

Picture of Customizing the RGB Circuit

You might only have one switch available in your Circuit Scribe kit. In that case, you can modify the RGB circuit to switch between turquoise and white using the instructions below.

  1. Delete the top and middle switches, as well as the pads and lines that were connecting them to the circuit.
  2. Press the “Conductive Pen” button and connect the blue and green terminals of the RGB LED together.
  3. Finally, connect the line that you just drew to the positive (+) terminal of the battery.
  4. Simulate the circuit and try flipping the switch!
  5. Print out a PDF of you circuit template and try it out with your kit!
  6. Press the "next" button below to continue

Step 5: Creating a Color Palette

Picture of Creating a Color Palette

In this step, we’ll start fresh with a blank area of the Workplane. Start by clicking on a blank space in the Workplane and dragging it around so that you have a new, large area to work with.

When you complete the circuit, you will rotate an RGB LED module around a wheel of connected pads to mix different colors together.

  1. Click on the “Footprints” tab and bring the circle segment into the Workplane
  2. Click the Modules + tab and bring a battery into the workplane. Rotate it horizontally and position it under the circle, as in the diagram.
  3. Use the conductive pen to connect the negative (-) terminal of the battery to the center pad.
  4. Connect the positive (+) terminal of the battery to the bottom left pad of the circle, lie the example shows.
  5. Finally, bring an RGB LED module into the Workplane and snap it onto the circle segment as shown.
  6. Press the "next" button below to continue.

Step 6: Completing the Color Palette

Picture of Completing the Color Palette

To complete the color palette, you will connect some of the pads in the outer circle together using the Conductive Pen.

We provided an example, but you can connect the pads together randomly, or come up with your own design.

  1. Use the conductive pen to randomly connect some of the pads in the footprint, OR you can create your own design.
  2. Make sure all the pads you wish to connect can be traced back to the battery.
  3. Press the "next" button below to continue.

Step 7: Simulating Your Circuit

Picture of Simulating Your Circuit

Now you can change the color of the RGB LED by rotating it around the color wheel.

  1. Simulate your new circuit by clicking the Start Simulation button and see what happens.
  2. Stop the simulation and rotate the RGB LED by typing the ‘r’ key or typing ‘shift-R.’
  3. Simulate the circuit again. Does the color of the LED change?
  4. Press the "next" button below to continue.

Step 8: Customizing Your Circuit

Congratulations on creating your first RGB LED circuits! You will use the RGB LED module again in another lesson.

To wrap up this lesson, try printing out your color wheel template and moving the RGB LED around the wheel to change its color!

  1. Click on the "view" button and select "paper." If your circuit does not overlap with the paper area, highlight and move it before printing out the template!
  2. Save the PDF to your computer by clicking "Download PDF."
  3. Print out this PDF, fill in the dotted lines and try out your circuit.
  4. In your time remaining, try printing another template and experiment with new connection patterns. What happens if you connect every other pad (alternating connected, not connected) in the circle?

In the next lesson you will learn about electrical resistance!

Next Lesson:Turn Up for Resistance

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