Make the Power Bus

Method 1

This is the method I chose. I used a 10-position barrier block, and used some jumper tabs to join together the rows that shared the same voltage. The jumper blocks should be sold along side the barrier block in the store (or ideally online). I do not have a specific manufacturer to recommend here, as I grabbed whatever was in my local electronics store and no longer have the packaging.

Power Supply

This will be the input from the supply to the game. Make 4 lengths of 18 AWG wire, 2 red, and 2 black. I used about a foot or so. Trim some insulation from each end.

Now insert the two red wires into the + terminal of the Female DC Power adapter, screwing it down and checking that they are securely fastened. Insert the two black wires into the - terminal of the power adapter, screw it down and ensure that they are secure.

Put both red wires into a spade connector rated for 16 AWG and crimp it down. Put both blue wires into a different spade connector rated for 16 AWG and crimp it down.

Screw the positive spade connector in to the barrier block at one of the end terminals. Screw the negative spade connector into the barrier block 4 positions down. Install jumper blocks between terminals 1 and 2, 2 and 3, and 3 and 4. Install jumper blocks between terminals 5 and 6, 6 and 7, and 7 and 8.

Check to see that there is no short between the + and - rings of the DC Power adapter. If you find any shorts, check the wires, crimps, and jumper blocks.

Test Power Up

Plug the power supply into the female connector. Plug the power supply into the wall. With your voltmeter, check the voltage on each tab. You should find +5V between all terminals in rows 1, 2, 3, and 4 and all terminals in rows 5, 6, 7, and 8, and no connection on rows 9 and 10. If this all works, you have 8 terminals that supply +5V and 8 terminals with GND.

A picture is a thousand words. Here you can see the barrier block, the jumper blocks (the metal tabs that stick up and over, as well are the crimp connectors used to attach the wires to the barrier block.

I have gone ahead and attached the wires from the LED matrix panels. These wires were provided to me in the kits I received from Adafruit. Red wire to any +5V terminal, black wire to any GND terminal. Each wire assembly is capable of powering two panels.

One Last Step

There is still no power available to the BBB. Take a Male DC Power adapter and hook a red 18 AWG wire to the + terminal, and a black 18 AWG wire to the - terminal. Around 6 to 8 inches in length is enough. Attach spade connectors and hook them to available terminals on the barrier block as well. Plug this into the BBB, and it should fire up.

There will be no picture on the LED matrixes yet, but the power wiring is done. Power down and take a break.

Method 2

I have not tried this, so I can only give general guidlines. You may wish to use the Power Distribution Bus as sold by Adafruit. In this case, you should not need any spade connectors, simply screwing the wire into place.

Make all parts and connections as noted above, but with the following exceptions:

  • You will need two Power Distribution Bus blocks, one for +5V and one for GND.
  • Wires will need to be somewhat longer as the Distribution Bus blocks are installed some distance apart in the final design.
  • Install no spade connectors, and cut off any spade connectors provided on the wiring to the LED matrix panels
This guide was first published on May 04, 2015. It was last updated on May 04, 2015. This page (Make the Power Bus) was last updated on May 04, 2015.