Wintertime can be rough in the city. The sky is gray. The weather is unpredictable. So slough off those seasonal blues with some Times Square razzle dazzle from this sweet, ultra-high-density 64x64 RGB LED Matrix. These panels are typically used to make video walls. Here in New York, we see them on the sides of buses and on top of taxi cabs displaying animations or video advertisements. We thought they looked really cool, so we picked up a few boxes of them from a factory. They have 4,096 bright RGB LEDs arranged in a 64x64 grid at a 2mm pitch.
WARNING! These 64-pixel tall matrices use a non-standard 5-address multiplexing system!WARNING!Many add-ons or drivers use only a 4-address (ABCD) setup and may not support 5-address (ABCDE)
You can use these matrices with our RGB Matrix Bonnet for Raspberry Pi, RGB Matrix HAT (you'll need to connect a solder jumper), or Matrix Portal (ditto, jumper required). Other libraries such as our Arduino shield with Adafruit library, or our HDMI driver boards, don't support 5-address multiplexing! Check that your driver board is ok with 5-address displays first before purchasing.
The SmartLED Shield in combination with the Teensy 3.5/3.6 has the hardware for driving these 5-address panels, and enough RAM to refresh the 4096 pixels, however, the power plug must be manually soldered/adapted because the shield overlaps it.
Full Kit Contents:
64x64 RGB panel
IDC ribbon cable
RAM & Processor Requirements
Keep in mind that these displays were 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.
You'll need about 1600 bytes of RAM to buffer the 12-bit color image. You cannot use this size panel with an Arduino UNO (ATmega328) or ATmega32u4 - you need a chip with more RAM! These displays are technically 'chainable' - connect one output to the next input - as long as you have the RAM and CPU to handle it
This display does best with a high speed, high RAM microcontroller like a SAMD21, SAMD51, ESP32, etc. 8-bit micros are going to struggle if they work at all. The good news is that the display is pre-white balanced with nice uniformity so if you turn on all the LEDs it's not a particularly tinted white.
These displays require 13 GPIO pins to control. You may have to use consecutive or special pins depending on the driver firmware. We'll be honest: folks who try to wire directly are usually not successful, its easy to get confused and misconnect. For that reason we strongly recommend a ready-to-go board or adapter that makes wiring as easy as plugging in the cables and powering with 5V
The original Matrix Portal with SAMD51 is also a great plug-and-play board if you happen to want a Cortex M4 as a main processor (we recommend the S3 version, above, as it is faster and has more memory)
Please note! These panels are remainder stock from factories that make huge light boards. For that reason, the look and size might vary from batch to batch, even though the basic operation, codebase and tutorial is the same.
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