My friend worked on the TV series Star Trek: Picard and received this LCARS panel as a gift from the art director. (LCARS is the computer system on board the ships in Star Trek). On it's own the panel doesn't look like much, just a sort of dark piece of acrylic -- it really needs to be backlit, and ideally animated. He asked if I could build a backlit display for him to show it off in his home, and I said "heck yes"! 

The combination of a light blocker layer and animated sprite sheet make it possible to turn different areas of the display interface "on" and "off", as well as adjust brightness and pattern. This uses the Matrix Portal running CircuitPython to drive a 128 x 64 pixel RGB LED matrix.

Check out the panel on-set in this production photo by art director Liz Kloczkowski

For more info on the original LCARS panel construction, check out this excellent blog page.

* Backlit film printing can be done at many sign printing shops, you can also create a similar effect using cut vinyl or by painting in reverse on the back side of a piece of glass or acrylic.


Video of a person rotating an LED matrix panel with animation resembling falling colored sand.
Folks love our wide selection of RGB matrices and accessories, for making custom colorful LED displays... and our RGB Matrix Shields...
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You can choose any compatible RGB LED matrix display to fit your particular design. The LCARS panel's size and design resolution dictated using two of the panels shown below:

Video of two hands flipping over a powered on 64x64 RGB LED Matrix. The matrix display has a falling colored sand effect.
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You can power a typical display from the USB-C input on the Matrix Portal using a 3A power supply:

Angled shot of Official Raspberry Pi Power Supply 5.1V 3A with USB C with Power plug facing down.
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Right Angle USB Type C Adapter - USB 3.1 Gen 4 Compatible
As technology changes and adapts, so does Adafruit, and speaking of adapting, this right angle adapter is USB C...
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If you are using a pair of denser displays, you'll want to use a separate power supply rated for higher current draw to power the displays:

5V 4A switching power supply brick with figure 8 power port.
Need a lot of 5V power? This switching supply gives a clean regulated 5V output at up to 4 Amps (4000mA). 110 or 240 input, so it works in any country. The plugs are "US...
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Angle shot Female DC Power adapter - 2.1mm jack to screw terminal block
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Opened box showing many nylon screws
Totaling 420 pieces, this M3 Screw Set is a must-have for your workstation. You'll have enough screws, nuts, and hex standoffs to fuel...
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Mahogany veneer with peel and stick PSA backer adhesive

Black acrylic sheets 12" x 24" 4 ea.

Black 6mm EVA foam sheet 14" x 36" 2 ea.


This guide was first published on May 03, 2023. It was last updated on May 22, 2024.

This page (Overview) was last updated on Mar 08, 2024.

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