As has previously been mentioned, although some of the hardware appears to be open source, the software is not. The hardware appears to be somewhat standard to some degree - based on quick observation, it is based off of ESP8266 or ESP32 modules.
I already have a number of these modules, and I was wondering if it would be possible to purchase the software/firmware (in binary form, I guess) separately from the hardware, so I could simply install it onto hardware I already have. Is this possible? If it is, how much would it cost, and where could I get this firmware?
While I am a huge fan of open source, and believe an open sourced PB would thrive, I totally understand @wizard 's desire to monetize his software. A licensing fee of $20 per unit? Might as well just sell the hardware, less support issues, and so on.
If I end up creating a product where I need the cheapest controller possible, an esp32 running WLED/FastLED etc might allow a cheaper solution, but not that much cheaper, when all is said and done. Honestly, the new Pico is amazingly tiny, go price the few TinyPico ESP32 boards out there… The Pico is competitive.
Ben has plenty of open source giveback, too, and he’s supportive of people mucking with his APIs, and so on.
If you want a controller to run for free on those ESPs, run WLED. It’ll do way more than PB, and also way less. You get what you pay for.
Also he would probably have to add code to use license keys or other protection… otherwise his software would find it’s way to pirate sites. This would all take a lot of time and effort away from features and new hardware. I understand the ask, but it really is a much bigger ask than it looks on the surface.
I don’t usually offer this option. I appreciate the interest and support and willingness to pay for the firmware, though I would still recommend purchasing the hardware.
The majority of Pixelblaze proceeds cover support and software development, and the hardware is designed to minimize the potential problems and also minimize the support costs around hardware, setup, and troubleshooting.
So a bit counterintuitively, when I do license Pixelblaze firmware for customer provided hardware, I charge more than a physical PB.
Addressable LEDs are fickle things, and having proper level shifters is critical, though many DIY LED setups with a bare bones ESP module will skip this because it seems to work, most of the time.
There is also reverse polarity and over voltage protection in Pixelblaze (v2+, v3 standard) that protects against human mistakes I think we’ve all made at one point or another. Because Pixelblaze primarily stores pattern code on the device, there’s more to protect than just the hardware.
I also license Pixelblaze firmware for use in commercial contexts where a business is bringing their own hardware, however these tend to be more complex agreements and shift end-user support responsibility.
If you (or anyone else reading this) are interested in licensing Pixelblaze for use with your hardware either for personal use or in a commercial context, please contact me at email@example.com.