NXP S32K-ISELED LED Lighting Solution - Review

Table of contents

RoadTest: NXP S32K-ISELED LED Lighting Solution

Author: abiswas1993

Creation date:

Evaluation Type: Development Boards & Tools

Did you receive all parts the manufacturer stated would be included in the package?: True

What other parts do you consider comparable to this product?: ISELED is an industry-grade LED lighting solution. In this review, a 24-bit WS2812 LED ( Addressable led with integrated driver) was used to compare with the A3D-MKG-2000-1 LED in the ISELED board.

What were the biggest problems encountered?: In this review, three different programming methods were evaluated. The evaluation board was programmed using the Lucie Creator, the S32DS, and Simulink. Below are a few problems that I encountered- 1) Lucie creator is a great design tool but doesn't let the animation be downloaded into the flash of the MCU which is really annoying. 2) Programming the NXP module with hardware support from Simulink could be a great way to readily control the LED's however there is an existing bug in the bridge system that freezes the bootloader if the code is being uploaded from Simulink. I worked with the NXP hardware team to fix this problem but hit a dead end. Later I was notified that the problem will be solved in the next bootloader update. The Simulink support for ISELED would really help hobbyists and developers to play with the driver and MCU without having to spend a lot of money buying Lucie Creator in the development phase. 3) I could not find a straightforward way to measure the current consumption through the power board. The only power consumption index I had was the overall consumption of the evaluation module which doesn't necessarily reflect individual power consumption by each LED's. I am really impressed with the vibrant color of the ISELED kit. If the mentioned problem is fixed it can be a great tool for designers who doesn't have lots of coding experience thus increasing the market.

Detailed Review:

** I will upload the feature video soon, don't forget to check it out **




Hi all, this is my review of the NXP S32K-ISELED LED Lighting Solution kit.


I tried to provide a technical review of the product for all the maker and hobbyists out there Hope everyone will enjoy. If you don't have the time to read the review watch my feature video it provides a great overview of the product.




Feature Video







In my last RGB led project I used a regular RGB led with separate pins to modulate the intensity of different Red, Green, Blue led intensity. Separate PWM channels were connected to separate RGB pins thus controlling the color of the RGB led.


             Fig. Regular RGB LED with three separate pins for modulation.


Now recently I have bought some led strips which use the WS2812B LED with an integrated controller based on 5050. So basically these LEDs come with a led chip (integrated inside) to control the PWM thus controlling the color and offloading the processing power from the MCU. These LEDs use their own protocol similar to I2C or SPI. These LEDs can be daisy-chained together to make a strip of LEDs. There are several design implications needed to consider if someone wants to design a lighting system with multiple LEDs with relative color accuracy. Line voltage drops severely affect the color reproduction of these LEDs thus providing power source connection along different points of the strip is required.



   Fig.  WS2812B LED with an integrated chip controller.


These integrated led chips are becoming more familiar. However, in the industry, the use of separate led drivers is very common due to the robust design and calibration. According to my research, the on-chip controlled led is still not widely accepted in the automotive and industrial lighting space. Moreover, color accuracy and scalability is an issue for a big lighting system design. Several key factors are important for automotive lighting such as -

1) color accuracy,

2) Power consumption

3) Brightness

4) Control system

5) Development time

6) Robustness


In my testing, ISELED addresses these key factors and improved upon targeting these features.


    Fig. . ISELED with an integrated chip controller.


In this regard ISELED is a new RGB LED controlling protocol with custom LED integrated into a single chip that has a robust communication protocol and user-friendly hardware-software support. The ISELED features-


  1. Pre-calibrated LED (data stored inside the led).
  2. 2 Mbit/s serial daisy chain bus.
  3. LED from the tape with guaranteed parameters.
  4. Inherent diagnostic features.


Overall the hardware a protocol is well documented and has the potential to be a dominant player in the LED industry.


What's Included-


  1. ISELED board
  2. S32K144-EVB-Q100 board from NXP
  3. Power adapter board
  4. Board connection cable
  5. Micro USB 2.0 cable
  6. Power supply
  7. Embedded software Lighting stack by Lucie Labs
  8. Lucie Creator (90 days evaluation period)


The package came in a nice little briefcase-style box. Unpacking was a great experience.


Figure: The ISELED kitimage



Figure: S32K144-EVB-Q100 board from NXP


Figure: 12 V 1 A power supplyFigure: Micro USB cableimageimage



Figure: Power Adapter Board







Figure: ISELED boardimage



So far it's the biggest module or box of electronics that I have got and reviewed image.


Getting Started


The hardware setup is fairly simple as this is a development platform. It requires three connections.


1) Connecting the power board to the LED Strip.

2) Connecting the Powerboard to the S32K144 module.

3) Connecting the  power adapter


One important point here that the capacitor end of the LED strip should be connected to the wire. However, during connection, I did find the connector to be mechanically weak as I bent it accidentally. This is something to take care for the development team to improve on their next design. The next step is to connect the Powerboard to the NXP module. The last connection is the Power Supply. Two things to notice here is that first the Jumper J7 in the NXP board hat to be configured to receive power from the Power board (It is the default if you are buying the kit, no changes necessary whatsoever). Second is that there is two power jack positions in the setup one is in the NXP board and the other on the power board. In this case, the power board is where the adapter needs to be connected.


The steps are shown in the Gallery below-


{gallery} Connecting and Powering up The ISELED Kit












Once connected I was greeted with the cool vibrant LED animation-



Programming the KIT


Now that I have it powered up the next step is to program the kit. There is three possible way to program the kit.


1) Lucie Creator (Specifically Made for programming the ISELED Kit)

2) S32 Design Studio (S32DS). (General platform to program the 32 bit MCU from NXP)

3) Simulink (MATLAB)


Please bear with me cause I am going to explore them all!!!!!


1) Lucie Creator (Specifically Made for programming the ISELED Kit)


Lucie Creator is a tool made by Lucie Labs specifically program the ISELED kit. It seamlessly integrates with the NXP module an creates a bridge between the web browser or Lucie Creator and the ISELED kit. Once the bridge is established it provides a canvas to paint and make custom animation. I was surprised by the learning curve cause it took me less than 30 minutes to run a custom animation from scratch.


Advantages of Lucie Creator-

1. Really easy

2. A very short learning curve

3. Very intuitive

4. Real-time update, basically click and play.




1. It's premium so have to buy a license if desired to use for a bigger project

2. On the trial version, no download capability to the MCU it just executes as long as the bridge or the board is connected.


I would really appreciate a limited edition where the user could upload part of the animation permanently to the board.The installation process is easy and demonstrated in the following link-


The creator requires a driver installation and inf file installation which is uploaded to the NXP board and appears when connected to the computer. However, the Lucie Creator lost the gateway many times and needed to repeatedly connect in order to animate.


Installation Steps-

  1. Registration on the Lucie Creator website.
  2. Download and install the driver.
  3. Install the INF file.
  4. Open Lucie creator
  5. Login and connect.


The steps are shown below-


{gallery} Lucie Creator Setup



IMAGE TITLE: Lucie Creator registration page


IMAGE TITLE: Driver download page for Lucie creator bridge


IMAGE TITLE: INF file installation. It is provided by default in the S32k144 module which connects as mass storage class device to the computer.


IMAGE TITLE: The Lucie Creator interface.




Here is my video introducing the Lucie Creator- Check it out and please pass comment and like. It will help me in the future.



Vidoe- Lucie Creator Demonstration.


It was fairly simple to design with the Lucie Creator. However, the data was passed throught the bridge. There were no option to download the code in the Flash which I expected. It would be great to have a limited version of the software for hobbyist or students.


Next, I wanted to go hardcoding with the S32 Design studio. So I installed the S32 Design studio.


2) S32 Design Studio (S32DS). (General platform to program the 32 bit MCU from NXP)


The ISELED driver and SDK can be downloaded and installed from this link - https://www.nxp.com/design/development-boards/automotive-development-platforms/s32k-mcu-platforms/s32k-iseled-led-lighti…

I installed both the S32DS and the SDK/driver package for ISELED. The S32K SDK ISELED driver is not part of standard S32K SDK installation and a separate download is required from NXP's website. The installation guide can be found here - https://www.nxp.com/webapp/Download?colCode=S32K-SDK-ISELED-UG /After installation, I browsed the example ISELED code which uses Free master. Those of us who haven't heard about NXP's Free master - it is a debugging tool to manipulate and acquire data in during the runtime. The code is uploaded in a case structure fashion and the different case is called according to a corresponding register value. It can serve as a great tool and help reduce development time. In order to know more, I actually attended a webinar and was pretty excited to learn about the tool. However, to run the ISELED kit attending the webinar is not mandatory rather following the steps in the getting started guide is enough.


{gallery} S32 Design Studio Installation and ISELED code upload


IS32K-ISELED Landing Page




IMAGE TITLE: Installation of S32 Design Studio


IMAGE TITLE: License page


IMAGE TITLE: S32K Design Studio


IMAGE TITLE: Loading the ISELED example in the workspace.




Below is the video showing Step by Step programming of the ISELED kit using S32 Design Studio and FreeMaster (NXP's tool for real-time control)


After the S32 Design Studio, I wanted to find a way for beginners to easily program and download the code in the flash. This endeavor led me to explore my third option for programming the board.


Here is a detailed review.




In order to program the kit from Simulink, I downloaded the NXP hardware support package and tried attending their recent webinar. It's interesting if anyone interested they can follow this webinar.


However, the Simulink upload was not working as it was supposed to. The bootloader froze every time I tried to upload the code. I communicated with the tech support and reached to a conclusion that the bootloader has a bug which needs to be fixed in order for Simulink to directly upload codes into the board. It turned out to be a long conversation. Anyone looking to upload MATLAB codes the NXP evaluation board can follow my support page for more insight.



So at last I was happy that I tried all possibilities and had the power to program the board. The ultimate platform was the S32DS as Lucie Creators License will expire soon.


Now that I have control over the board I wanted to run tests/comparison on the technical specification of the LED's A3D-MKG-2000-1( ISELED) and WS2812 addressable LEDs to find out more. The WS2812 is one of the integrated drivers led most used by maker and hobbyist so I bought that for Comparison.


Comparison between ISELED ( A3D-MKG-2000-1) and WS2812

The comparison Includes-


1) Size

2) Brightness/Optical Power

3) Color reproduction

4) Cost

5) Speed


So let's dive in some specs battle image .


1) Size


Size is one of the specs that the ISELED really shines. The common LED's in this case WS2812 is bigger with larger exposure size which makes the individual emissions visually separable thus not being vibrant while illuminated. On the other hand ht ISELED has small exposure size thus it is more accurate in color reproduction. The accuracy is tested in the later steps.


Figure: Size comparison WS2812 (Left) and ISELED (Right)

2) Brightness


In case of brightness with full intensity white color, the WS2812 is brighter having a surface intensity of 12.5 mW while the ISELED produces 7.7 mW when LEDs were set to produce white. However, The ISELED is much more color accurate and thus single color brightness is accurate and superior to that of WS2812's single color production


WS2812 Brightness test

ISELED Brightness test



3) Color Accuracy


Now that the brightness test is done next comes the color accuracy test. In order to perform the color accuracy test 4 individual LED's were used to producing - white, red, green, and blue colors.


Figure: Visual colors

In my test, I have defined color accuracy to be -


Color accuracy of color X = (Value of color X in the defined region)/(Sum of individual RGB value of the defined region).

Higher is better.



The results are mentioned in Table 1.


Figure: Color accuracy indexes of WS2812 LED



Figure: Color accuracy indexes of ISELED


Parameter/ LED NameWS2812



Table 1: Result of Color accuracy test


In color accuracy, the ISELED topped the WS2812 on each color and the vibrancy of the color is really astonishing. In my viewpoint, this is the strong characteristic of ISELED.


4) Cost

The cost of WS2812 can be ranging from from 0.5$-2$ each depending on the quantity. I tried to find the retail price of the ISELED individual LED's but could not find a retail price.


5) Power Consumption


A comparison of power was not straightforward because there is no current measurement accessibility in the power board thus further modification should consider providing a current measurement option for individual LED in the ISELED kit.


6) Ease of use

The ISELED was really easy to get started with because of the Lucie Creator. It is almost a plug and play device. However, the main drawback is that Lucie creator is not available for programming the flash which is somewhat annoying and I think will be a hindrance for wide adoption of this LED and kit. A simpler processor board with a limited version of Lucie Creator will really promote wide adoption.




This roadtest has been extensive research from me starting from Programming to specification study. Getting started with this kit is very easy with the help of Lucie Creator. I want to appreciate their work. So far in the market, there are not robust development kits specifically made for industrial lighting. In this regard, ISELED has the potential to change the game. However wide adoption will need few changes in the software. Another strong aspect of this kit is the NXP hardware support for MATLAB and Simulink. I think for the maker community solving the bootloader issue which was explained in the programming section will help adopt to the ISELED system fairly quickly. I personally felt that example codes in Simulink using the ISELED function/block if provided will help beginners to explore with this kit.

The ISELED LED's are so far the vibrant color's that I have seen in any RGB LED. The color accuracy is incredible. I would like to see these LED's being used widely.


It has been a great experience. Please feel free to comment and I would be happy to answer. Please check out my video of Lucie Creator and help me grow.


Thanks. Peace image.

  • Hi,


    Thanks for your suggestions. However, I used the Lucie Creator while testing for the brightness and color accuracy by setting individual paramter to 255 (max value). For color accuracy I did and RGB analysis of defined area.


    Thanks and let me know if you have any more questions.

  • Thanks for good review compare between WS and ISELED solution.

    One of the problem is WS no address system, make it update one LED need resend all upstream value.

    The ISELED is much complicate as WS is no verifying so not good for critical.


    What the equipment you check of color accuracy ? It is curiosity the ISELED is not much better that WS as ISELED all is pre-calibration.


    The max brightness of ISELED default is set to about half if you read the param of the LEDs, I thing because of this product used on high reliability so the manufacturing reduce the max output for better reliablity.


    It factory wrote for each individual LEDs, however you can overwrite the value to max possibility.



       while (DIGLED_BUSY==digLED_Set_PWM_Red(4095,0,strip));

       while (DIGLED_BUSY==digLED_Set_PWM_Blue(4095,0,strip));

       while (DIGLED_BUSY==digLED_Set_PWM_Green(4095,0,strip));


    It will dramatic increase LEDs temperature, in my observed from 50c to 90c ....


    (my review discussed how to read LED data   https://www.element14.com/community/roadTestReviews/3396/l/nxp-s32k-iseled-led-lighting-solution-review)