Tiny Tiny RGB LED Displays

Hackaday.io contributor extraordinaire [al1] has been playing around with small LEDs a lot lately, which inevitably leads to playing around with large groups of small LEDs. Matrixes of tiny RGB LEDs, to be precise.

Where's the LED?
Where’s the LED?

First, he took 128 0404 SMD RGB LEDs (yes, 40 thousandths of an inch on each side) and crammed them onto a board that’s just under 37 mm x 24 mm. He calls the project 384:LED (after all, each of those 128 packages has three diodes inside). A microcontroller and the driver chips are located on a separate driver board, which piggy-backs via pin headers to the LED board. Of course, he had to use 0.05 inch headers, because this thing is really small.

Of course, no project is without its hitches. [al1] bought LEDs with the wrong footprint by mistake, so he had a bunch of (subtly different) 0404 LEDs left over. Time for an 8×8 matrix! 192:LED isn’t just the first project cut in half, though. It’s a complete re-design with a four-layer board and the microcontroller on the back-side. And as befits a scrounge project with lots of extreme soldering, he even pulled the microcontroller off of a cheap digital FM radio. Kudos!

We’re in awe of [al1]’s tiny, tiny hacking skills. Now it’s time to get some equally cool graphics up on those little displays.

17 thoughts on “Tiny Tiny RGB LED Displays

    1. Probably as a demonstration/prototype in LCD labs. Not so likely as a commercial product, especially as most (all?) active matrix LCDs make colors by combining multiple grayscale pixels.

  1. What if we put lots and lots of these together, say a matrix of 800 x 600 or 1280 x 1024 or even more together and update them, say 30 or more times per second! We could have moving pictures!

    Seriously though, this is pretty neat. Would like to see these used in huge, modular arrays.

    1. Well, at least for 192:LED I am planing to make bigger Displays. The Dimensions are also so that it is possible. But first I must work further on communication. Now only some kind of test Image is shown.

    1. When they make an LED so small, that it’s only controllable via by and powered by wifi. Mix the fine powder with glue and paint the display onto the surface. They set up a mesh network and self organise based on proximity.

  2. Would it be possible to make something like this to present visual stimuli to small animals in MRI scanner? The biggest problem would be the electromagnetic interference between the magnetic field generated by MRI scanner and the device.

  3. im looking at making a small rgb array i can use in the humbucker cavity of my les paul ,and program it from my cell phone, kinda a modern day Ace Frehley mod without the fire and smoke

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