Hardware

Parts

You'll need the following parts to follow this guide:

CircuitPython board.  This guide focuses on the ESP8266 and Feather M0/SAMD21-based boards, but any CircuitPython board that supports I2C should work.

 

If your board doesn't come with CircuitPython running on it already then check out your board's guide for how to load CircuitPython firmware.  For example the Feather M0 express guide is a good reference.

 

If you're using a Feather board and FeatherWing you probably want a Feather female header set or Feather stacking female header set.

LED Matrix, 7-segment, or 14-segment FeatherWing or Backpack Display.  If you're using a Feather the 8x16 Matrix FeatherWing14-segment Quad Alphanumeric FeatherWing, or 7-segment FeatherWing are perfect options that easily connect to the Feather board.  For other boards check out the large assortment of LED backpacks--the matrix (both single and bi-color), 14-segment quad alphanumeric, and 7-segment numeric backpacks can be used with the CircuitPython library.

 

Make sure to check if your backpack requires 5V or 3.3V of power.  Larger displays like the 1.2" 7-segment display need 5V of power, but boards like Feathers only provide 5V power when plugged in to USB ports. Read the LED backpack guide for details on the power needed for each type of backpack!

Breadboard and jumper wires.  If you aren't using a Feather and FeatherWing you'll need a breadboard and jumper wires to connect the components.

 

Soldering tools.  You'll need to solder headers to the boards  Check out the guide to excellent soldering if you're new to soldering.

Make sure to follow the board and LED FeatherWing or backpack product guides to assemble and verify they work before continuing.

Wiring

If you're using a FeatherWing and Feather just slide the wing onto the Feather board and you're all set!  The FeatherWing will automatically be connected to the board using its I2C connection.  Skip to the next page to learn about the software to control the display.

If you're using a LED backpack breakout you'll need to connect its power, ground, and I2C connections to the board.  For example the wiring for a LED matrix to Feather HUZZAH ESP8266, and 14-segment display to Feather M0 might look like:

  • Board SCL / I2C clock to LED Backpack SCL / C.
  • Board SDA / I2C data to LED Backpack SDA / D.
  • Board 3.3V power to LED Backpack VCC / + (note some larger backpacks prefer 5V power but might still at 3.3V with less light output, check your product's guide for details).
  • Board 3.3V power to LED Backpack VI2C / logic level voltage (not all backpacks have a VI2C or logic level pin, check your product's guide for details).
  • Board GND / ground to LED Backpack GND / -.

Remember to read about your backpack's power requirements in the LED backpack guide.  Some of the large backpack displays (like the 1.2" 7-segment display) need 5V of power to run, and others require an explicit VI2C or logic level voltage input.

This guide was first published on Nov 02, 2016. It was last updated on Nov 02, 2016. This page (Hardware) was last updated on Sep 16, 2019.