This tutorial does not work with the Pi 4 or Pi 5 - no ETA on when it may be fixed!

This project will show you how to turn RGB LED matrices into a display for the Raspberry Pi!  You can play games, watch movies, display a dashboard of data, and much more on a big and beautiful LED display.  Anything the Pi outputs to a monitor can be shrunk down and displayed on LED matrices!

The code for this project uses the excellent rpi-rgb-led-matrix library.  This library allows the Pi to light up and display graphics on LED matrices.  Combined with a little bit of extra code to read the Pi's video output you'll have a dedicated LED matrix display setup with ease.

The Adafruit LED matrix HAT also makes it easy to connect RGB LED matrices to the Pi.  The HAT takes care of level conversion and power distribution so you can just plug in displays and go.

Before you get started you'll want to be familiar with LED matrices and the Raspberry Pi by reading these guides:

In addition if you're new to the Raspberry Pi check out these Learn Raspberry Pi guides to learn how to get started by loading an operating system and connecting to the Pi's command line terminal.

Also realize the Raspberry Pi makes a 'best effort' at driving these LED matrices.  There's no dedicated fast signal generation on the Raspberry Pi so you're sometimes at the mercy of the Linux kernel when talking to hardware like these panels.  This means you might see some slight flickering or other small display artifacts.  Using a Raspberry Pi 2 and keeping the load on the processor low will help reduce graphical glitches.

This guide was first published on Dec 18, 2015. It was last updated on Apr 26, 2024.

This page (Overview) was last updated on Apr 23, 2024.

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