Tuesday, May 13, 2014

32x32 RGB LED matrix, Painting with Light

Here at last is my 32x32 RGB LED attempt. I bought a while ago a matrix from Sparkfun with the idea to use the Teensy 3 to control it (the code posted below does not work with Arduino).

I have seen quite a few projects with LED matrices, specially the Pixel V2 or the GameFrame and the QR clock. All these projects are quite impressive, each offering something a bit different. My idea is to make a bit of each while keeping things simple and cost down, the total was around 100$.

- Like for the LED cube I made last year, I wanted an interactive drawing system where my son can paint in Processing and pass the pixel data through the Serial interface.
- In addition I tried to separate each LED to have a "cleaner" lighting; I removed the matrix front panel and replaced it by a laser cut grid. This gives the "square" look of Pixels we are familiar with. Then I covered the grid with two sheets of tracing paper to "blur" the lights (if someone has a better idea, please...)

- Since the Arduino library made by Adafruit does not work with the Teensy at the momen; I first wrote a code which helped me understand the working of the matrix but was two slow and flickered a lot. Then I found the code Markus Lipp published, thanks again. After a few tweaks, here is a simple sketch which will display an image and allow to change the color of each LED with a Serial message. With some additions, the code can also display animations from Serial or an SD card at 24bit colors and with a good frameRate.

Can you read this QR code? I am using the QRduino library to generate QR codes. With the Teensy RTC capability it is possible to make a fun clock!


Here is a Sketch for the Teensy 3 or 3.1. I use some pins which are underneath for the matrix, so that I still have the SPI pins for an SD card and Serial 2 to play with Bluetooth.  If you want to use this code with the top pins only, you can change PORTB to PORTC.


  1. Hi Great project.Any more detail on how you created that diffuse look?

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