This is the preferred method for pairing these matrices with an Arduino-sized board, as it’s quick and trouble-free.

The Adafruit RGB Matrix Shield works with the Arduino Uno and Zero, and the Adafruit Metro M0…and with one or more jumper wires can work with the Metro M4 (and potentially other boards with this form factor, if a compatible Arduino library is available).

The shield does not directly work with the Arduino Mega — additional jumper wires are needed to pins off the shield — see the “Jumper Wires” page for pinouts, or consider making your own Mega proto shield for that board.

Assembling the Partially Assembled Version

The shield comes with the button, terminal block, and the 16-pin header already soldered on. All you need to do is solder the headers!

The included headers should be installed from the underside and soldered from the top.

Assembling the Original Version

The shield arrives unpopulated and you’ll need to do a little soldering to get it going.

Header pins are installed from the underside and soldered on top. Three components — a button, power terminal and 16-pin header — insert from the top and are soldered underneath.

The 16-pin (8x2) header must be installed in the correct orientation! The polarity notch is indicated on the silkscreen, or you can see in the photos above that the notch faces the digital I/O pins. If you install this backwards the matrix will not work!

Powering the Shield

Power to the LED matrix can be connected to the shield’s screw terminals — red wire to +5Vout, black wire to GND — and the whole circuit is then powered from the Arduino’s DC jack or a USB cable at a safe and regulated 5 Volts.

Metro M4 Usage

The shield requires a small modification to work with the Adafruit Metro M4:

  • Use a small file or hobby knife to cut the PCB trace between the two pads indicated here.
  • Solder a wire from the adjacent “CLK” pin to the “Analog In 4” pin.

A corresponding change is required in one’s code — look for the “CLK” pin definition in any of the matrix examples…

#define CLK 8

And change the “8” to “A4”:

#define CLK A4
If you have a Metro M4 Airlift - make sure you select the right board in the Tools dropdown. Many folks select Metro M4 by accident (or vice versa)

This guide was first published on Dec 11, 2012. It was last updated on Sep 14, 2023.

This page (Connecting Using RGB Matrix Shield) was last updated on Jun 19, 2018.

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