LED Strips For Lighting and Effects – What NOT To Get

I have a real cool LED strip that I installed a while back.  Details of that build are here.

My Living Room Arch LED Strip Installation

I just built a work/hobby room up and decided to put some effect lighting in there as well.  I did a little research and of all the LED lights that you can buy in Lowes, Target, Walmart, HomeDepot only the Monster Smart Illuminessence lights line at Walmart seemed to be available quickly and they seemed to possess the ability to be flashed by an Open Source Firmware called Tasmota.

These were cheap at about $13

Walmart Lights

They advertise them as “Smart” lights.  They are smart alright!  They have the ability to track you on your phone wherever you go.

The lights have no remote and are only app controlled. To use them you either have to download the Monster Smart app which again, wants to track you or you can link your Monster Smart Account with Google Home or Amazon Alexa.

Great.  Now there’s 3 people I don’t trust tracking me.



Oh……another thing.  When I was trying to install the lights my Firewall kept blocking the requests saying they were suspicious.  I had to temporarily clear the stuff my Firewall caught JUST SO I COULD INSTALL IT.

Anyway I was pretty sure I could flash the WIFI chip in this thing and use trustworthy Open Source Software called Tasmota.  These cheap Chinese devices use WIFI chips from a place called Tuya and the Monster Smart Lights are no exception.  When I went to flash the firmware on the WIFI chip (ESP8266), sadly I got this response back.

Listening for Tuya broadcast on UDP 6666
Listening for encrypted Tuya broadcast on UDP 6667
^CListening for Tuya broadcast on UDP 6666
Listening for encrypted Tuya broadcast on UDP 6667 {"ip":"","gwId":"58438005286dcd59a71c","active":0,"ablilty":0,"encrypt":true,"productKey":"ms1ov4okjgm6ayl2","version":"3.3"}
WARNING: it appears this device does not use an ESP82xx and therefore cannot install ESP based firmware

Well, that’s the end of that!  Now I’m stuck with Chinese lights that trip my Firewall and want to track my phone location everywhere I go.   Allow me to go postal for a second.  This kinda Shit should be against the law.   Lights.  Static LED Lights that will stay in one place want to know where I am at all the time.  And they wanna partner up with Google and Amazon spy devices.

What could possibly go wrong?

If you want to buy LED’s for effect lighting just skip all the crap like this in the big box stores and buy some WS2812B lights from Amazon. Then hook those lights to a Nodemcu ESP8266 WIFI chip and get an Open Source project called WLED and install it on your Nodemcu.

You may think I’m traveling into geek territory where you can’t keep up but it is EASY.  Real Easy.   There are some good tutorials online.  Google or Youtube Dr. Z’s and WLED.  I’d link to his video here but I don’t like doing that kind of stuff without permission.

At any rate my point is………YOU CAN DO IT.  It doesn’t require great tech skills.  You download a program, hook the Nodemcu to your computer and hit “Flash”……..then hook the lights up.  It’s super simple.

But DO NOT buy cheap Chinese lights that spy on you.

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