A beginner’s guide to LED matrices

led_tutorial

[Rajendra Bhatt] wrote in to share a tutorial he put together demonstrating the basics of using LED dot matrix displays. While this subject might be old hat to many out there, his helpful walkthroughs are geared more towards beginners who are exploring various electronics concepts for the first time.

He explains the theory behind LED displays using a PIC-driven 5×7 matrix as an example. He discusses persistence of vision and how tricking the human eye can save you quite a bit of time and a whole lot of pins. Multiplexing is broken down into its most basic steps, which [Rajendra] illustrates by showing how a letter would be drawn on the LED display one column at a time. The use of a ULN2803A Darlington Array is also discussed, and he details why it is used when pulling the five columns of LEDs to ground.

The only portion of the tutorial we thought could be expanded upon was the programming section. While he does show how each letter of the alphabet can be displayed via a series of five hex values, he does not cover the “why” part of the process. Obviously while anyone familiar with binary and hex can figure it out in pretty short order, we think that it would be a great place to pause and expand the readers’ knowledge even more.

Overall it’s a useful tutorial, and most beginners would likely find it quite helpful.

Comments

  1. Andrew Garza says:

    Great tutorial. I just recently watched another video on LED Matrices by Colin Cunningham of Make magazine. Beginners should check that one out as well.

    http://blog.makezine.com/archive/2011/03/circuit-skills-led-matrix-sponsored-by-jameco-electronics.html

  2. dustandechoes91 says:

    Does anyone know if it is easy to remove the plastic shell on these so you have a bare matrix?

  3. PocketBrain says:

    @dustandechoes91:
    Nope, they are mostly potted PCBs with SMT LEDs.

  4. Andrew Garza says:

    @dustandechoes91

    Just curious as to what you would do if you could remove the plastic encasing?

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