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Topic: Combining different size LED matrixes/boards (Read 681 times) previous topic - next topic


Hello everyone,

Let me first start off saying that I am pretty new when it comes to this sort of subject. I have a general idea of how things work as I have done a decent amount of research, but I am struggling a little bit and felt you guys would be the best ones to go to for my question. So here goes.

What I am wanting to do is build a handful of different size LED boards, and then be able to control each individual square on each of those boards. So here is a basic diagram of what I am looking at doing.

Board A (12x12) will connect to 4 separate Board B's (10x10) and finally, the board B's will connect back to 1 Board C (10x10). So Say I wanted to put a different letter on each board. The letter "I" on the top (Board A), then put the word "Love" with each letter on each board in the middle (Board B x4), and then the letter "U" on the bottom (Board C).

Now, here is where I get lost. I am trying to figure out if I will need multiple Arduino boards (possibly one for each board/matrix) or if there is a way to get away with less. As well, is there a better choice of Arduino board than others?

Any and all help on this project would be fantastic. Thank you so much for your help and I look forward to reading your answers.


What is the point of this?
Letters that are not the same size for each board?


There is a point to it, unfortunately I can't divulge everything due to this is going towards something I am developing. I wish I could post more pictures of the real product that I am developing, but unfortunately, I am afraid of someone seeing my idea and beating me to it. :(


There is a point to it, unfortunately I can't divulge everything due to this is going towards something I am developing. I wish I could post more pictures of the real product that I am developing, but unfortunately, I am afraid of someone seeing my idea and beating me to it. :(
I would look into MAX7219 as it can control 8 x 8 LEDs per IC so if you can change your requirement to that from 10 x 10, then it should work for you.


That's what I was afraid of. Cause as I was looking more after posting this topic, it appears that everything is in 2 to the x form (2, 4, 8, 16, 32, etc etc). Ugh, this is frustrating. I was hoping I wouldn't have to redesign my project to accommodate this. :(


I guess I can state this in here. Part of my project is involving designing and electronic chess board (will become 3D chess if I can do so). And it will be designed to where if you pick up a piece, the board will know what piece is there and will light up the available squares for you to be able to move that piece to. (the knowing of what piece is there will be taken care of later.) I am more concerned with being able to handle the control of lighting up the specific squares and whether I will be able to design a 18x18, 12x12, 10x10, and 8x8. Those are all the different board sizes I will be wanting to create.

Thanks again for everyone's help to this newbie. :(


A chess board is 8 x 8.

So I am confused.


I know, but I am re-designing the traditional chess board to a new design I have in mind. And re-designing the mechanics, game pieces, etc. I just use chess as a reference since it would be similar in some instances, but mostly re-designed. I hope that helps clear things up. :)


You should still be able to use the MAX7219; you'll just have to use two of them for 10x10 and three of them for 18x18.
This is predicated on traditional LEDs.

If you are planning on high-wattage LEDs then you will have to use something else.

You may also want to see if you can use strips of WS2812B.


I am planning on putting the lowest wattage I can in there due to eventually adding more grids in the future.

ieee488 - you don't know of any other way than to have multiple of the MAX7219's? Is there another board model (or I really hate to ask this here) or another brand that could handle the 18x18 with only one board?

Just trying to look/find the best options and ways to go about my build.


Jul 13, 2016, 06:20 pm Last Edit: Jul 13, 2016, 06:34 pm by CrossRoads
Strings of WS2812B are probably the easiest way to go.
Lay them out in whatever matrix size you want.
Have a big array in memory to hold 3 bytes for each one, so you have both color and brightness control.
18x18x3 (they are RGB) is 924 bytes, so control the strings with a '1284P with its 16K of SRAM and hold/manipulate lots of patterns.
www.adafruit.com for a library.

Designing & building electrical circuits for over 25 years.  Screw Shield for Mega/Due/Uno,  Bobuino with ATMega1284P, & other '328P & '1284P creations & offerings at  my website.


CrossRoads - That's what I was starting to come across. Now, just to make sure I am understanding this correctly (like I said, I am pretty noobish on this stuff), I could still control each individual light and only light up the ones that I want with this configuration, right?

And I think I am really starting to get a really good idea on how this will be designed. Thanks everyone for your help so far. I think I am looking at going with the adafruit as my lights.

Obviously to make sure I have all my options open, does anyone have any other suggestions besides adafruit?

Thanks again everyone.


Jul 14, 2016, 12:12 am Last Edit: Jul 14, 2016, 12:20 am by PaulRB
Yes, with ws2812b you will have full control over brightness & colour of each led individually.

These Leds are not called "adafruit". Adafruit is a company that sells many components & boards to the hobbyist. They did not invent ws2812b leds, although I think they did give them the name "neopixels". You can buy ws2812b leds from many sellers.

There are other types of leds with similar capabilities called apa102/3/4. They are a slightly different design but use the same principle of one (or two in some cases) data lines linking many leds in a string, as well as power and ground lines.


Yes PaulRB, you are correct. I misworded my statement above and meant to say that I am looking at going with the adafruit company as my light source. Obviously, I am still open to others, they have looked the most prospective so far.

As for the apa102/3/4, I did see those as well. I was considering looking at the apa102 and combining it with their breakout PCB so that I could do a little more customization.

Thanks again for all of the suggestions. These are really helping me making my decision better.

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