Newbie Thinking Big: 32x16 tri LED possibility?

Hello Gurus,
First off, don't worry about telling me how to do this. I'm just brainstorming as I read and research and want to pick your brains for general ideas. I'm interested in creating a nice weather feed wall display for the office reading data from a web server (I understand the basic concepts here).

I thought it would be cool to create an animated display that shows temperature (stationary, centered, 10x10 pixel font) then scroll the weather condition text in a 5x5 pixel font, with an animated background that reflects the weather condition. The display would consist of a 4x2 LED Matrices (32x16 RGB LED sets), found at: LED Matrix - Tri Color - Large - COM-00683 - SparkFun Electronics . Here's a small preview/draft made while thinking about this concept:

From what I read so far, controlling that many LEDs sounds crazy when trying to fit the above programming requirements in 10kb of space. I would create pixel font libraries, background animation library(s), deal with the internet communication, and connect to LOTS of LEDs.

Does it look like I'm pushing it too far? As a beginner I probably am anyway, but think big! Do you feel the LED matrix serial interface would be helpful at SparkFun LED Matrix - Serial Interface - Red/Green/Blue - COM-00760 - SparkFun Electronics ? What about a 4x4 LED matrix? xD

Ok I'll go play with my single LED tutorial now. Look it blinks! Thanks for your feedback in advance. :slight_smile:

ah here is an interesting tutorial:

more reading.. It looks like one doesn't have to project all at once, but give the illusion through "persistence of vision":

I think the thing to do in a project like this is to think modular, both for the code and for the electronics.

Split everything op in modules that can be build / coded / tested individually, while still keeping in mind that everything has to play together in the end.

Try to find a way to split rthe control of tha LED's up in smaller units.

Good advice.
Also don't be afraid of using more than one processor in a project, nothing says you all have to have it on one board. This is especially true when it comes to multiplexing lots of LEDs. You could build dedicated hardware to relieve the software burden or you could just use another arduino they are cheap enough.

Thanks for the great feedback. I haven't thought about splitting it into multiple microprocessors. The "RBBB" at seems like a fun and cheap tool that might be useful for something like this.


  • With the thought that an Arduino would control the little "minions". Having several extra USB ports etc. seems excessive. Anyone have good experiences or complaints with the RBBBs?

Pick up a free feed from Make magazine. They had a multi processor arduino setup using I2C. We've had some people here figure out how to do that. Your master control would tell the peons what to do and they'd do it. You can store your fonts in an SPI flash chip.