Links expanded: Snake on LED matrix

[Yosh] came through with a link to the Snake playing LED matrix that he read about in our links post from yesterday. It seems that [Arty Fart] actually built three of these in green, yellow, and red. You can see him throw one together (an 8-10 hour job) in the video after the break. In addition to playing Snake the PIC 16F877A can also scroll messages, play a mean game of Tetris, and show a Pong screen saver on the 144 LED display. We love the clean build and the urge to make another LED matrix is becoming irresistible.

Now off to eBay for a good deal on a bulk LED order.


  1. Brennan says:

    I think “screen saver” is the wrong term here…

  2. strider_mt2k says:

    Man, that IS a nice build.

    Great work!

  3. Paul says:

    @Brennan, you are technically correect, however I think that screen saver has expanded in definition since the 1990’s when it was used to prevent CRT burn-in.

    Today we still see “Screen Savers” on computers even though they are using LCD’s which will not have a burn-in effect. The term screen saver has been expanded to mean a non-interactive scripted sequence that is displayed on a screen.

    Screen saver is a lot easier to say. While the longer explanation might be more technically correct, it just makes you look like a big nerd.

  4. Daryl says:


    We’re on hack-a-day. I think we already look like nerds :D

    Very nice build. Now I can put all those bulk LEDs from SparkFun to use.

  5. Mark says:

    Wow, the build quality is extraordinary..

  6. baobrien says:
  7. Brennan says:

    @Paul It somehow makes more sense when you talk about a screen saver on an LCD (even though there is actually no point, and most LCD’s have an auto-turnoff feature anyway), but it sounds even more ridiculous when talking about a screen saver for an LED dot matrix. I was just saying…

  8. DocMAME says:

    I’ve seen plenty of LCD screen burns in the past… it isn’t impossible…

  9. AO says:

    Really nice build!

    I just finished a small (8×6) RGB matrix, and it’s a (functional) mess!

  10. Rachel says:

    Is it just me, or does this not have enough transistors? It has one per column, but what about the rows? Connecting the rows straight to the microcontroller defeats the purpose of the column transistors.

  11. svofski says:

    @Rachel: It’s 200mA sunk or sourced on all port pins combined but not more than 25mA per pin. I’m guessing that he enumerates columns, say 15mA per LED for good measure, that’s 120mA — can’t sink that through one pin, need a transistor for sink but no need for transistors on source side.

  12. loldma says:

    How is it possible to make such a good led matrix? When I made one, it was a bit messy, I also had to widen the holes on the house I built for my project (100 dual leds for birthday present, colors changed by rows)

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