Storing an animated sequence in an array for LED

I'm curious about what your thoughts are on my thinking process for a future project.

While brainstorming on a future LED display project from a non-electricronics background, I've realized how much I take animated gifs for granted. If I were to store bytes in an array representing a 2x2 RGB LED matrix (12x12 LEDS total) with dimming for each LED, it may look something like this (pardon any programming errors):

int image[4][3]={{255,255,255},{255,255,255},{255,255,255},{255,255,255}}

That alone is 12-13 bytes, correct? So if I wanted to create 1 RGB "frame" with dimming on a 32x16 RGB 1,536 LED matrix (my ultimate goal), that would be 1,537 bytes for that one variable+values. Am I off on this? Make 6 "frames" for a cool animation to take up 9,216 bytes of memory. If I were a microprocessor, I'd be upset right now. What if I want 30 frames? Crazy!

With that said, I STILL want to make it happen someday. My initial thoughts are to have one microprocessor load the animation from somewhere (internet or SD card), then assign small fragments of the animation to a series of "child" microcontrollers. Afterwards, the master controller would orchestrate the animation by telling all the children to project the next frame in the sequence, which they would tell their assigned LED drivers to help make it all happen. I would guess that if I had a microcontroller for every 64 LEDs (18 child microcontrollers), I could run 140 dimming RGB frames at a time. Is that overkill?

What are your thoughts on this? Keep in mind that I'm not too familiar with the electronics, but share much enthusiasm. :)

Thank you much

So you see that anything with graphics needs lots of memory. To do this properly you need to break away from the Arduino and use a bigger processor, either with more internal memory, 128K bytes of RAM, is not uncommon or one with an external data and memory bus so you can have as much as you like. Also you would be better off using a dedicated graphics controller chip to do the multiplexing the sort they use for LCD graphics panels.

The sort of thing you looking at is not well suited to an embedded flash based controller, especially such a low end one as the Arduino. You are probably best using one of the processors designed for PDAs as these often have refresh drivers and large amounts of RAM built in.

While enthusiasm is good lack of knowledge about what is available and it's limitations often leads unrealistic expectations, and disappointment. Or, as in your case I fear, overextension of what techniques you know about.

That's not to say you couldn't get something like this working in the same way that you could build a model of the Brooklyn bridge from matchsticks, but there are better ways of building a model if that's what you want to do.

Hey I am called Grumpy Mike :)

Grumpy Mike, Thanks for your nudge back into reality. :)

While making a crazy LED display with parts, pieces, and concepts I don't understand sounds fun, I thought of some simpler alternatives that Arduino would be well suited for. I got some great ideas this morning that make use of a couple servo or step motors. You'll probably see a few silly posts related to those soon heh.

Best regards,