16 X 16 Pixel RGB LED Artboard Part 3

This is the third post in the 16 X 16 Pixel RGB LED Artboard project, Part1 and Part2  links just in case you showed up late!

In this post I will discuss the building of a pine framed box to house the pixel array. It has a glass cover on the front for easy cleaning and finished look.

First part was cutting the frame pieces, used a miter box and hand saw to cut all four sides.

Frame of pine

Next I carved out a groove for the glass, the location of the grooves was marked onto the wood with a pencil, square and metal ruler.

Then I used a small 1/4″ wood chisel to slowly carve out the groove to a depth of approximately 1/4″ deep. The glass was cut 1/2″ (13mm) larger on both sides than the wood frame. So a groove about 3/16″ to 1/4″ holds the glass in place and hides the edge.

Laying out the grooves
Cutting the grooves
Fitting the glass

Ok so that went fairly quickly, it was a lot of fun carving the wood. I love the smell of fresh cut wood.

Once I was totally satisfied with the fit, wood glue was applied to each joint and painters tape used to hold the sides in tension with each other.

Holding the frame together while glue dries

The panel is held in place with offcuts from making the sides.

Completed frame with led array in place

Right away I tested it out!!

Very first full panel tests!!

And the first tests were successful!

This panel is power hunnngggry though!! The small bench power supply I used for this test immediately started to smell like burning electronics, so I shut it down… Need to find a 5V 4A power supply, 10A would be even better!

The pattern shown on the panel  is being fed via wifi to an ESP8266 mounted on the back of the panel. The ESP8266 is running an Artnet Node with two universes. I’m feeding the data from a windows PC running Jinx…. ive also tested it with GLEDiator as well and it works fine.

To be continued…. Programming, ESP8266, Artnet in the next post.

16 X 16 Pixel RGB LED Artboard Part 2

So continuing from Part 1 of the Series on designing and building a 16 X 16 RGB LED Artboard...

At first, I had such grandiose ideas of this stunning foam core frame for the LED panel… well this didn’t work out for me. Let me explain why.

Have you ever tried to cut intricate foam core shapes with an exacto knife… the foam either gummed up the blade resulting in horrible edges that basically ended up pulling and ripping that paper backings on both sides…

Grid design for holding WS2812B RGB LED’sI tried multiple techniques and decided life was too short, plus I have a 3D printer at my disposal!! ….. 

Look it just wasn’t my thing. So instead I went with a 3D printed design. Now I could make precise squares, with thin walls. And I could make the exact shape of the LED as  cut out and pop the suckers in…. it all made sense now and I began to come up with printable design…

With this design the LEDS simply “snap” into place on the side opposing the open face of the array.

Here’s a shot of the first piece being printed on my FDM printer:

Populating the first panel with LED’s:

Laying down copper:

Testing the first panel:

Four panels tested and ready for final connections:

After wiring all four panels together, tested finished 16 X 16 panel using Arduino Duemilanove and a 5V 4A power supply 😀

Conclusion of Series in part 3 – Programming and Finishing in Wood/Glass Frame

16 X 16 Pixel RGB LED Artboard Part 1

A few months back I saw some very interesting NeoPixel coffee table designs on YouTube. Right away I knew that I must get my hands on some of these amazing little lights and start to experiment.

Instead of going for a large coffee table design I decided on a smaller project, a 16 x 16 pixel NeoPixel Artboard that could display static images or animations. I was inspired by this video:

And thus the project began, first by purchasing some WS2812B addressable RGB LED’s from an online vendor. The parts showed up after waiting a couple weeks and I dove in right away!

In the past I’ve played around with classic thru hole RGB LED’s, but these were quite different. The nice part with these LED’s is that each pixel in a strip is individually addressable, meaning they can be controlled separately using a very simple one wire communication protocol. No extra shift registers are required which keeps this project compact and the wiring very simple, although tedious if you use the individual LED’s on pcb approach that I did here.

In the future I would definitely use and suggest using the pre-wired strips for a project like this.

My first experiment was wiring up a 10×10 array for testing. Here is a picture of the LED’s as they arrived at my doorstep.

Here’s how I wired it up for testing, except I did add a 100 Ohm current limiting resistor in series with the data line as it was suggested in the manufacturers documentation online.


Looking back I really should have ordered the prewired strips for this project. Oh well such is life, live and learn… Needless to say I wasn’t looking forward to soldering for at least a week after this. Wiring by hand, this took a few hours. I used solid 22awg copper wire for power, gnd and data.

This went smoothly and in no time I was up and running, I downloaded the acclaimed AdafruitNeoPixelLibrary and installed it in Arduino IDE. Then I wired up the panel to an Arduino Nano and suitable DC power supply (these things are power hungry so beware!).

Here I’m testing each row individually as they are wired.

And finally success, the whole panel works… But why is my small bench supply making funny smells. This thing is drawing easily 2A at 5V DC, depending on the color produced. White is the worst as it requires all three LED’s of each pixel to run at full brightness.

Continued in Part 2 – Designing and Building the Array…