The Feather M4 Express and RGB FeatherWing make this project really easy. We'll assemble the FeatherWing, stack it on top of the Feather, and then plug in the rest of the connections.

Assemble the FeatherWing

Find all the pieces for your FeatherWing - they are all included with the board. First we'll solder on the headers, then the rest of the connectors.

If you haven't soldered headers before, it seems scary but is really pretty straightforward. Check our our Guide to Excellent Soldering for tips. 

We'll be inserting the headers into the outer rows of holes on either side of the FeatherWing, so we need to make sure we have the right number of pins. One of them is right. The other needs to be shortened - I had to break 4 pins off my second header to get it into shape.

The easiest way to neatly line up the headers is to use a solderless breadboard to hold them. Put the long end of the pins into the breadboard, and place the FeatherWing face up on the short end of the pins as shown. Solder all the pins in place.

Next we'll add the screw terminal. This will connect power from the RGB Matrix to the board. 

Look closely to be sure you've got it aligned correctly. The slope faces toward the outside of the board.

Flip it over and solder the underside of the pins to the copper pads.

Next, solder the DC power jack onto the other end of the FeatherWing.

Finally, add the ribbon cable connector. Look for the cutout on the side of the connector and align it with the cutout symbol etched on the board to be sure you've got it the right way around.

Stack the Feather M4

Finally, grab your Feather M4 Express and place it onto the long side of the header pins you soldered in step 1. Solder the pins in place on the Feather M4. 

That's it for the soldering!

Final Assembly

Find the power connector that came with your RGB panel. Cut off the screw terminal connectors with wire cutters and strip just a bit of shielding from each wire.

Insert the wires into your screw terminal on your FeatherWing, being sure to line up the red wire with + and the black wire with -, as shown. Screw the ports tightly down on the wires with a small screwdriver.

Plug the power cable from the screw terminal into the plug on the back of your matrix, and plug the ribbon cable in on both ends. Plug in your power supply. Flip your panel over and be sure it's working.

Troubleshooting

If your panel doesn't light up, here are some things to try:

  • Re-upload your software, or load some test code. Really with this build, the software is the most likely culprit for mishaps.
  • Are there any "bridged" solder joints on your board? Be sure none of the pins are touching each other.
  • Try plugging the ribbon cable into the other port on the back of the matrix.
  • Wiggle all your connections, especially the screw terminal connections which can sometimes be tricky to get tight.

If none of this helps, head over to the RGB FeatherWing guide for more suggestions.

This guide was first published on Aug 12, 2020. It was last updated on Aug 12, 2020.

This page (Electronics Assembly) was last updated on Feb 07, 2021.

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