This Giant Hand Made LED Matrix Must Be Ours!


[Martin] wrote in to share a project his company has been working on for some time, a gigantic 1470 pixel LED wall. The group provides lighting for clubs, parties, etc, and their hand-built LED matrix is always certain to be the hit of the show.

The amazing matrix was designed from the ground up and built by hand in [Martin’s] living room. They designed small 32x32mm “pixel” boards, each of which features 6 PLCC6 RGB LEDs driven by a single WS2801 LED controller. The PCBs were populated by hand and each one was reflowed in a small pizza oven that [Martin] owns. After the pixels were completed, they were attached to aluminum bar and combined to build thirty 70x70cm frames which are connected together to form a giant matrix.

As you can see in the collection of videos below, the display is very impressive. We just hope that they will be compelled to release the schematics for their boards so that we can build one of these in the office.









16 thoughts on “This Giant Hand Made LED Matrix Must Be Ours!

  1. Impressive indeed. Although I don’t think schematics for the PCBs are that big of a deal. The WS2801 datasheet has more than enough information, and the circuit is simple enough, to throw together one’s own schematic in a few minutes.

    I’m more interested in the software, and how they drive the signals to all the modules.

    Personally, I’m partial to the PCA9834, which can drive 8 LEDs with an 8-bit brightness level at a similar cost (about $1 per chip). It’s TWI, so there’s a lower theoretical number of modules for the same pair of wires, but there’s only so many LEDs you can put on a pair of I/O before you start getting into really high data rates anyway.

    1. WS2801 has output for relaying the data to the next module, so there’s only need to connect the first module to the processor. With for example the fastspi library for Arduino you can (according to the developer) do over 1.1 million LED operations per second on a 16MHz system.

      I am using the WS2801 on a much smaller setup (7 leds) and must say that the PWM offloading is a huge benefit from doing PWM on the processor.

  2. This is exactly what i want to build but when i costed out the LED’s it started to get prohibative! However its funny how much Barco etc will charge for what is in essence a very cheap product.

    1. Barco gives you a warranty. THAT is what you are paying for.

      and when you are making $1-4mill a night on the road doing shows… Warranty with overnight replacement is more important than saving a couple of bucks.

  3. The power of projects like this is the software. Company i work for also use WS2801 in their products. Pixelproducts for signs etc. Also made some screens with it like this.

    For screens with live content we use DMX to WS2801 signal converters so you can just use your favorite flavor of software like arkaos, freestyler, madrix etc.
    12mm pixels just cost 1,16 euro so inexpensive indeed.

    Barco have high quality products for heavy duty rental use and their software is marvelous. Thats their power.

  4. “…hope that they will be compelled to release the schematics for their boards so that we can build one of these in the office”…

    What’s this no true hackers at ;) You know the sort that see something they like, want one for themselves, and set out to duplicate it. No judgement from this sector, I often have the same thought. A fantastic build, and great displays. Even if I where able to build the display, I don’t have the creativity or the skill set to write the the programs that create the differing displays.

  5. Simple curiosity… If each pixel contains 6 LEDs, why were RGB LEDs used? Would it not be cheaper/easier to use pairs of red, green and blue LEDs?

    I’m thinking about consistency of light intensity as a reason for RGBs… or is there something I haven’t learned yet?

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