Playing with the PL9823-F5: a breadboardable Neopixel-compatible LED

A fun new part has recently become available – the PL9823-F5. It looks like a standard 5mm RGB LED, with 4 pins and a diffused plastic forming the body of the LED itself.
PL9823-F5 LED
Inside, however, it packs a bit of a punch: a control chip that can set the brightness of Red, Green and Blue via serial data. It’s similar to the popular WS2812 that Adafruit sells as the Neopixel – and it’s fairly compatible with them to boot (the colour ordering is different). According to cpldcpu, the timing of these devices are compatible with the Neopixels, so existing code (such as Adafruit’s library) will work.

There are a couple of important differences: first off, these are through hole, so they’re easier for beginners and hobbyists to work with than the surface mount-only WS2812s. Also, Red and Green are swapped with respect to the Neopixel / WS2812. Other than that, they work identically.

Here’s a link to the PDF datasheet, and here they are on AliExpress. I just paid about $14 per hundred plus a little over $20 in shipping, which is a good deal. The pinout on the AliExpress page is wrong, by the way – use either the one in the datasheet or this fancy hand-drawn one I just made:

PL9823-F5 pinout

Here’s a quick video of 5 of these LEDs in action, running Adafruit’s strandtest sketch:

I’m formulating a few projects that could use these – I need to take a look at how little voltage they can get by on (they’re rated to 4.5V on the datasheet), and how much current they draw. Odds are they’re going to put out a lot of power supply noise much like the WS2812s, so I’ll take a look at that, too.

Category : Blog

7 Comments → “Playing with the PL9823-F5: a breadboardable Neopixel-compatible LED”

  1. Rick

    5 years ago

    I’ve been thinking of these as a means to a 6x6x6 LED cube.

    I found a vendor on aliexpress wiling to sell 250 for $38 or 550 for $78 delivered!

    I’m a bit confused and thought you could help.
    I’d like to us the -5 5mm version, but the data sheet shows it as a squat “straw hat” type and those usually have a 120 deg view angle that I don’t think would be good for a cube.

    Are the ones you used the -5? Do you think they’d be suitable for a cube?



    Guy willing to ship at quoted price:

    • rglenn

      5 years ago

      Hi Rick,

      Mine were listed as the -F5, yes. If it’s the “milky white body” ones, I think you’re fine – having the non-clear body diffuses the light quite nicely, and should work fine for a cube. If it’s a clear straw hat, then yeah, that wouldn’t work well.

      I’m personally more inclined to believe the photos on the post than the datasheet – my guess is that they took a photo of their product and found a datasheet that doesn’t necessarily match their packaging.

      Hope this helps!

  2. Rick

    5 years ago

    Rglenn –
    Thanks for the feedback.

    I haven’t had a chance to play with them yet, but had a question I thought you could answer.

    Given the non-equal human eye perception to RGB, and the fact that this datasheet ( shows the different emitters having different Max intensities (not in the correct ratio to cancel out human perception)…

    Here’s the question, does 255, 255, 255 appear white, or do you need to do a bunch of fancy corrections for the human perception and intensities?


    • rglenn

      5 years ago

      Hi Rick,

      Not sure – I’ll have to check that out! I’ll wire up a test and make a post out of it.



  3. zos

    5 years ago

    can you tell me its operational difference with Neopixel. Seeing that its cheaper, is it inferior to the ws2812b in anyway? thanks

  4. Andy

    4 years ago

    ” I need to take a look at how little voltage they can get by on ”

    Have you tried these on 3.7v ? I use the ws2811 a lot and they run fine on 3.7v.

  5. Tiago Carvalho

    4 years ago

    Hi, can you please show us a detail schematic for this project?

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