Metalab’s LED matrix display

Our friends at Vienna’s Metalab have been working on this project quite a while. Soldering their hearts out to create an FPGA controlled monochrome LED dot matrix display. It’s 48×72 array totaling 3,456 LEDs, soldered by hand. It creates some serious geek bling thanks to an mplayer plugin developed just for the project and it runs up to 72fps. Build details and source code are on the project page. Be sure to check out the awesome video demo below.

The video being played is the impressive Python SVG demo Die Ewigkeit schmertz.

[via laughing squid]


  1. aaron says:

    great project. pretty impressive

  2. mitch says:

    They have provided interfacing instructions, protocol details yet no schematics or source? Right…

  3. Alex says:

    That is incredibly impressive and must of cost a fortune – 3,456 blue leds…

  4. macegr says:

    alex: The LEDs probably cost less than the hardware needed to control them. eBay is your friend, 1000 blue LEDs for $120:

  5. strider_mt2k says:

    That must have been some exacting work, whether or not you get into a rhythm of the job.

    Well done, seriously.

  6. Ron says:

    Awesome work. I’d love to see it with some RGB leds.

  7. Alex McCown says:

    u need 3.5k blue leds 3.5k pwms and there controllers … $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

  8. jproach says:

    Alex: the LEDs are multiplexed so it reduces a lot of the hardware.

    mitch: found their schematics, verilog, etc. in their open directory. Can be opened with Kicad.

  9. rababerkuchen says:

    wow awesome,

    WTB: led matrix display

  10. bendotron says:

    They were working on this at Chaos Communication Camp in August of last year, and I helped them solder some of the LEDs. It was all done by hand with pencil-style irons. They had a lot left to do when I saw it, but they also had a fairly large group of people to do it.

  11. FPGA Boards says:

    Holly crap, that is a lot of LED. I would love to have my hands on that !!
    Bendorton, good job with the soldering, you must be good :-)

    - Dave

  12. Overflo says:

    hi guys,
    i am flo from viennas metalab and one of the initators of this project..

    first, thanks for your great response thats really motivating :)

    the schemantics WILL be available anytime soon, we just haven’t had the time to make a cool project page for that monster.

    in july metalab will be hosting a demoparty and by then we should have a more serious project page with a lot more detailed information online.

    the costs:
    yes there were some.
    actually it was very expensive.

    i made a little homepage upfront with pics of other blinky things we built.
    this homepage was modified so to say “”, “”,”led-shop…” and sent to the contact adresses of various online stores.
    the page had these pics on it, a youtube video and a short message saying something like “ohai, we are a bunch of crazy guys with a lot motivation and we want to build this HUGE led matrix, will you sponsor us?”
    finally we got high quality leds for 0.20 €/piece.
    you dont want to get 0.1 cent leds just to find out they are class III and will not have the same radius or luminicity AFTER soldering 3456 of them together :P
    the controllers cost a couple more 100er’s

    if you are ever in vienna visit us!
    we are austrias first hackerspace opened every day from 6pm-???.


  13. overflo says:

    ah yes i forgot..
    we got those leds SPONSORED from
    they are crystal blue 5000 mcd

  14. mask_12 says:

    Cool & impressive installation. I can imagine this would fit perfectly in quite some clubs.

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