Noob needs help with a cool LED project!

Hey all, I've got a killer halloween costume that needs LED's and some Arduino goodness to really make it pop. Behold:

That's a model I built in Solidworks, it's going to get built via rapid prototyping next week :sunglasses: However, the physical helmet is only part of the equation, it needs to be able to do this:

That's where you guys come in, I'm a mechanical engineer by trade but I'm afraid I'm a bit behind the curve when it comes to homebrew electronics and programming. This is what I have for the LED array so far, these guys are 1.25" square and I've got 10 of them:


Essentially what I want to do is link 5 or 6 of these end to end and treat them as a 8 X 40(or 48) display. Now I'm not a complete luddite, I understand that I'm going to need to use some kind of multiplexing or shift register to do this, but that's all I know. So what I need next is a shopping list of everything I need for this project, can you guys help me out?

Oh, and if this isn't postedin the right forum can a mod please move it? Thanks!

As you have the displays already the cheap option of using a Sure display is out?

You can do it by hand so to speak but it will cost you many times more:-

Well, the displays I have only cost me about $15 so I haven't sunk much into them, but the issue is that due to the curved nature of the helmet visor a simple flat array isn't going to give me an authentic look, so a custom build is probably what I'm looking at. That's cool with me, though, I really want to learn how to do this stuff!

So I've had a look at those Maxim display drivers, I assume that they can handle an 8 x 8 DOT matrix array just the same as a 8 x 7+1 segment display, correct? Which of these is better for what I want to do, the 219 or 221? One of the articles says something about cascading 219's, is that what I need to look at for multiple 8 x 8 arrays?

One more thing, what flavor of arduino is best suited to this sort of thing? Like I said I'm a noob to this stuff and I'm having some trouble decoding all the different variants...

Thanks again!