Bring a little bit of Times Square into your home with our RGB LED matrix panels. These panels are normally used to make video walls — here in New York we see them on the sides of buses and on bus stops — to display animations or short video clips. We thought they looked really cool so we picked up a few boxes from the factory. They come in a variety of sizes from 16x32 pixels and up.

Using the new RGBMatrix library, CircuitPython can blast pixels to these displays really quickly. Use it with DisplayIO for showing text, bitmaps, animations, and more. Not familiar with DisplayIO? There's a guide for that.

This guide is for select CircuitPython boards — ones based on the SAMD51 (Feather M4, ItsyBitsy M4, Metro M4 etc) and nRF52840 (Feather nRF52840, ItsyBitsy nRF52840, etc).

We have a different guide for Raspberry Pi and Arduino.

CircuitPython and Arduino share the same basic code for driving these matrices. In CircuitPython, we call it RGBMatrix. In Arduino, it's named Protomatter.

These panels require 12 or 13 digital pins (6 bit data, 6 or 7 bit control) and a good 5V power supply, at least a couple amps per panel. We suggest our 2A (or larger) regulated 5V adapters and either a terminal block DC jack, or solder a jack from our DC extension cord. Please read the rest of our tutorial for more details!

Keep in mind that these displays are normally designed to be driven by FPGAs or other high speed processors; they do not have built in PWM control of any kind. Instead, you're supposed to redraw the screen over and over to 'manually' PWM the whole thing.  RGBMatrix takes care of that for you, offering up to thousands of bright colors.  Depending on settings (width, height, and color depth) and microcontroller, RGBMatrix takes from 10% to 60% of the processing power away from CircuitPython.

Of course, we wouldn't leave you with a datasheet and a "good luck!" We have a full wiring diagrams and working CircuitPython code.

This guide was first published on Apr 20, 2020. It was last updated on Apr 20, 2020.
This page (Overview) was last updated on Oct 16, 2020.