Clueless Newby looking for help

First of all, I am so clueless with electronics that I'm not even sure I am posting this in the correct place on this forum. Please let me know if this is the appropriate place to ask what I want to learn.

I am requesting help with the following:

Using Arduino and LED's to create art.

My initial goal is this: Purchase an LED RGB Matrix, purchase an Arduino controller and whatever else I need to do one simple thing and that is to blink an LED on and off on a LED Matrix using a computer. I have done about 2 weeks worth of research on the Arduino site and others. My ultimate goal is to be able to create art along the lines of Leo Villareal but that is way way in the future. right now I just want to learn to control a small LED matrix with a computer and then build on that.

So, my initial question is about the hardware. I have looked at LED matrix's on SeeedStudio and Sparkelectronics and have also looked at the arduino controllers on those sites. I need recommendations on how to build the most basic of setups, a setup that will allow me to controll the LED's......Matrix, controller, software, USB cord is what I think I need....Do I need more than these items to do the most basic?

I will just start with that one question, but I have lots more rattling around in my head. I want to state that I am clueless when it comes to electronics, I am more interested in creating the LED art, then in building electronics, but I will learn whatever I need to on the electronics side. All help is greatly appreciated.

If you don't mind starting small you can blink quite a few LED's with an Arduino. The simplest way to start is to connect one output pin per row of LEDs and one output pin per column of LEDs. When you set one row pin HIGH (all the rest LOW) and any combination of column pins LOW (all the rest HIGH) current will flow out through the selected row pin and in through the selected column pins. By sweeping through the rows as quickly as you can, setting the columns you want lit, you can selectively light any combination of LEDs in the array.

Give it a try with a small array like 3x3 or 4x4.

thanks John,

but maybe I wasn't clear on the help I needed. I need help putting together the hardware necessary to control an LED Matrix with a PC.

Can anyone help me with hardware questions?

Hi, I am a noob myself but I can give you a hint on this one.

I bought a starter kit which is described in pdf ASKManualRev4.pdf ← google it to find it. The PDF describes background and the experiments. It gives a lot of insights!!!

It does a lot of experiments with LEDs (Traffic lights, mood lamp, knight rider …) and also includes an 8x8 LED matrix and does some sprites.

For some single LEDs you need resistors and for the matrix you need the shift registers.

hope this helps


but maybe I wasn't clear on the help I needed. I need help putting together the hardware necessary to control an LED Matrix with a PC.

Well to start off with you need to be more precise in your description of what you want to build. The word matrix is too general a word used by itself. A single row of 4 leds could be called a one dimension matrix comprised of four led elements. A 8X8 (64 leds) would be called a 2 dimensional matrix. A LED 5X5X5 cube would be called a three dimensional matrix comprised of 125 leds.

You did mention wanting to use RGB leds, That in itself adds another "dimension" to your 'thingee', as it no longer is just a choice of that a given led is either off or on, but rather off or one of three primary colors, or even off or one of seven color combinations.

All the details of hardware requirements, components, wiring methods, and programming methods to be used, start with a good accurate description on what you are trying to build.


Hey folks, thanks for the responses, sorry it took so long to get back. I am vague with my requests because this all if very confusing to me. I will check out the links provided and get back with any questions. thanks.