Connect to the Matrix Portal

Make sure your Matrix Portal is plugged into your computer via a known-good USB power+data cable (not the power-only cables that come with USB power banks). Then, launch the Expressive Pixels application.

In Expressive Pixels, click the Menu icon.

Click the Devices button.

Expressive Pixels should find the Matrix Portal connected to your computer. Click Connect and wait until the device is connected.

Once connected, clicking the Devices button again will bring up a menu for the Connected Device. From this menu, you can rename the device, check its battery level, and configure its brightness.

We have a collection of 64x32 animations you can download here for importing into the application

Drag the EPX files to your Documents/ExpressivePixels folder

Hovering over any animation on the My Animations page will automatically preview the animation on your device.

Matrix Portal not listed under Available Devices?

First, check that the Matrix Portal is not listed as a removable drive on your computer named MATRIXBOOT.

Then, following the steps on the previous page, re-flash the ExpressivePixels firmware to your Matrix Portal. 

Still an Issue - perhaps use a different USB cable or USB port.

Creating an Image

Next, let's create an image using Expressive Pixels.

In Expressive Pixels, Click the New Animation Button 

Enter the dimensions of your LED matrix. Then, click the '+' button to be brought to the Authoring Screen.

  • If the default array dimension specified in this window does not match your matrix's size, make sure the name of the firmware you downloaded contains the dimensions of your matrix.

Follow the tutorial video below from Microsoft Research to learn how to create an image and save it to your Animation Gallery.

Creating Animations

You can also create and save animations by adding frames and transitions to your images. 

Storing Animations on the Matrix Portal

You can store animations on the Matrix Portal's built-in SPI flash chip. Animations stored on the Matrix Portal will play on the Matrix Portal without the need to connect to your computer over USB.

Under My Animations, right-click on the animation you'd like to store on your Matrix Portal. 

From the menu, select Store to device.

After successfully storing an animation on the Matrix Portal, you can manage animations stored on your device within the Device Animations page.

On the sidebar menu, click the Device Animations button.

On this page, you can view and delete the animations stored on the Matrix Portal. The total storage left on your Matrix Portal's flash memory is displayed at the top of the page.

To play animations stored on the Matrix Portal, Click the Devices tab.

Under Connected Device, click the Disconnect button to disconnect your Matrix Portal. 

The reset button is located at the top of your Matrix Portal. Click it once to reset the Matrix Portal

Once the Matrix Portal resets, it will display animations on the RGB LED matrix in a loop. Connecting the Matrix Portal to the Expressive Pixels app will put the portal back in "authoring mode" and stops the animation loop.

Triggering Animations on the Matrix Portal

You can trigger a stored animation to display on a RGB Matrix using one of the Matrix Portal's four analog input pins (A1 through A4). A good method of triggering an animation is by wiring one of these inputs to a physical button (check out the selection of buttons in the Adafruit shop) or switch.

Within the Expressive Pixels app menu, click Developer Console.

  • If you do not see the COM# CONNECTED message on the Developer Console, make sure you are connected to the Matrix Portal.

Next, enter the following command in the console. Change A1 to the name of the GPIO pin you want use for triggering animations. Change Weather to the name of the animation you'd like to display.


Press Enter. The Developer Console should show the command you just entered and "success" if the command was successful.

You can now try triggering an animation by pressing the button you wired up, or by using a wire to connect the GPIO pin to the Matrix Portal's GND pin.

This guide was first published on Dec 11, 2020. It was last updated on Jun 10, 2024.

This page (Using Expressive Pixels) was last updated on Jun 10, 2024.

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