G-35 Christmas lights do make a great LED matrix

This fully-addressable RGB LED matrix was built by [John Graham-Cummings]. He didn’t start from scratch, but wisely repurposed a strand of GE Color Effect lights and built a pleasant looking case in which to mount the G-35 hardware.

We’ve seen this hardware used in a similar way before. Because each ‘bulb’ has its own microcontroller, color data is shifted in via a serial bus. Orient the modules in any pattern you choose and account for that layout in software.

Since the strings have 50 bulbs, [John] simply cut off the one on the end to form his 7×7 matrix with the remaining 49 units. A square of plywood with a grid of holes holds each in place. Cord mess is not a problem as the extra was cut out and the remainders were soldered together again. [John] uses an Arduino Pro to feed in the data, which you can see for yourself in the clip after the break.

[Thanks Evalpix]

16 thoughts on “G-35 Christmas lights do make a great LED matrix

  1. Love it! Nice repurpose and it looks good in its box. I’m with Max in that I had never seen these in a store before, but will keep my eyes on the clearance shelves this year ;) Thanks for the info :)

  2. All these different serial-controlled LEDs make me wonder: why is there still not a RGB LED with a i2c or spi controller chip built-in? There are blinking LEDs and color-fade LEDS indicating that putting a chip in a LED is easy. why not make a pre-packaged 4-pin LED: Vcc, GND, SCL, SDA? It would allow so meny cool things to be done in a small space. [ the main problem with current modules is that they are all too big ]

      1. True, but RGB LEDs are 4 pins, RGBFlashers/Self-Blinkers,Candle FlickerLEDs all have self-contained ICs in their epoxy, what’s it to remap the pins of an RGB around one of those integrated ICs?

  3. What did you use to cntroll the lights? What would be my shopping list? Can this be done with regular serial on a usb port or…?

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