The Dawm





Introduction: The Dawm

The Dawm is a breakout board for the TLC5940 chip. This chip has the possibility to pwm (pulse width modulation) 16 different ports over serial communication from example an arduino microcontroller or similar. (This means in ordinary language that you can for example dim 16 LEDs up and down individually) The max rating of the chip is 17V and 120mA / port. This is adjustable by an resistor down to about 10 mA

One nice feature of the TLC5940 is that it is daisy chainable, which means that one chip can be connected to the next one and so on for plenty (500+)of pwm ports. Each one of the ports is individually controllable from only using 5 pins from the microcontroller. This creates great possibilities like creating low resolution screens or light patterns which is fully customizable and so on. Also control of motors and other outputs is possible.

In this Instructable I will show how to solder the breakout board and also how to connect it to an arduino and control leds.

The kit with the pcb and everything else needed can be purchased at where also many other open source projects are sold.

The datasheet for the TLC5940 can be found here with all the specs

A library for controlling it from arduino can be found here

Since this is my first Instructable I would love comments on it...

Step 1: Material and Tools

The things that is needed to finish this is

1 The Dawm (breakout board) available now by mailing me or soon from here
1 TLC5940 available as an sample from Texas Industry for free or from Digikey (Digi-Key Part Number 296-17732-5-ND ) or similar vendor
38 female pin headers (not necessary but makes life easier)
1 resistor which size depends on the current you are going to be using. (more about that further down)

Soldering iron

Step 2: Socket

Solder the socket which will hold the chip in place. Make sure to line up the "halfmoon" on the socket and the graphic on the card to guide you in which way to put the chip in later. I recommend to first solder two opposite corners to make sure you have a good fit against the board.

Step 3: Pinheaders

Solder the female pinheader which enables easy and fast connection to your LEDs. One possible solution here could be to solder the LEDs or cables going to the LEDs directly onto the board which will create a more permanent installation.

Step 4: Pinheaders Continued...

Solder either female or male pin headers to the side of the boards. The decision between female and male depends on your setup. If you want to stack the boards on top of each other alternate between one board with all female and one with all male and so on. The first board in your stack is recommended to have female pin headers for easy connection to microcontroller.

If you want to have cables between the boards you can either solder them directly on the board or solder female pin headers for easier prototyping and experimentation.

Step 5: Resistor

Solder the Resistor on its place. It doesn't matter which direction it goes in. The size of the resistor depends on how much current you are going to sink. For example if you are going to be using one LED on each port a 1.5k ohms resistor should be fine since a LED is made for about 30mA current. If you plan on using the chip on its max rating (120mA on each port) you should be using a 320 Ohms resistor.

This table can help you calculate which resistor fits your project which is also found in the datasheet found here

Step 6: Coding!

Now you are done with the soldering of the board and it is time to control it with some code.

On the Arduino playground you can find a library called TLC5940LED which helps you with all the hard parts of controlling the chip. You can find it here.

Download the library and unzip the whole folder in your arduino/hardware/libraries folder. After a restart of your arduino program you will find that under file/sketchbook/examples/TLC5940LED you will find some examples. In the example at the top you will find which wires to connect to where on the arduino.

Put the longer leg of the LEDs in +5V and the shorter leg in 0-15.

Upload the code and be proud of your work for five seconds after you should start modifying the code and hardware adding pieces and bits to create your OWN unique masterpiece.

Good luck!



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    17 Discussions

    I just ran across this instructable. Are you still selling boards? If so, how much?
    I'm in Wisconsin (54124).


    Thats a great looking board! where did the name come from and where did you get such cool yellow PCB's printed?

    3 replies

    Thx. the name comes from me David combined with pwm which gets Dawm. Clever I don't know but late hours crafting kind of generates those kind of names. :-) The pcb is made in Korea where I can get in practicality any color I want (pink, green, blue u name it) but u have to manufacture a lot....

    Yes I am. I have sent you a direct message for more information.

    thank you for the nice comment. always more fun to add stuff when people appreciate it. :-)

    yes it is a shame that people get so warped up over spelling and gamer they miss out on the most important parts of the projects or they see it and are jell us over the fact they have not got the skills to do the same things in other areas. thus makes them look smarter busting down on the smart one

    Great Instructable, ZrvZ! Like mycroftxxx said -- it's a clean board. Well done! One quick (and very menial) constructive critique: You may want to mention using the Arduino board when adding the header pins. Plug the headers into the arduino, then rest the pcb on top of them, and solder. This way, everything lines up right the first time around.

    2 replies

    First of thanks for the comment! Always nice to get feedback when it is your first instructable. not sure what you mean by this "Plug the headers into the arduino, then rest the pcb on top of them, and solder". The board doesn't plug directly into arduino like a shield so you have to have cables between the board and the arduino. Thought that was the easiest solution since the arduino doesn't supply enough current from its digital pins to power the board. The pinheaders that you solder to the board should just go straight down and is nothing strange at all to solder. Maybe need to be clearer about that.

    Okay..I follow, now. Disregard the comment, then. I thought it was meant to plug into the Ardy board.

    you might l;ike to sift through it to get some spelling errors out, for example you spelt size wrong in first line of step 5. good for a first timer. and good pictures. although you didnt go into much detail about the controlling of the chip. not everyone uses Arduino (i think it is the amatuer way personally), i use machine code and AVR and others might use BASIC (i think BASIC is slightly amatuer as well). but enough about that. 4 stars. if you added more about the programming aspect then it would have been 5

    4 replies

    Thanks for the feedback. I have checked through the spelling now and hopefully caught the wrong ones. I apologies for the spelling since English isn't my first language. Will see if I can add some more information about the programming part even though I don't agree that arduino is for just amateurs. It is a perfect tool to do quick prototype and also for teaching about physical prototyping in schools. Artist often doesn't have the skills to do machine code and AVR but still want to create interactive artifacts.

    i was just trying to help, anyway you still havent corrected it. or maybe you spell it Seize in america, i am English. the people who invented 'English'. but then Seize means like 'Seizing property' as in taking it (in england that is)

    Nice Instructable. While I agree with collard's general criticism on the spelling/editing, this is a really useful chip to know about and I like the cleanliness of your boards. Thanks!