Enter The Matrix With This Custom PC Side Panel

With a new Matrix movie out now, it’s hardly a surprise that we’re starting to see more and more projects centered around the franchise’s iconic “Digital Rain” effect. A few particularly unique examples have floated to the top of this virtual tsunami of green-tinted sushi recipes, such as this very slick RGB LED PC side panel built by [Will Donaldson].

In place of the normal clear window in his PC case, [Will] has mounted a black acrylic sheet that has had all of the “code” characters laser-cut from it. Behind that is an array of WS2812B LED strips, nestled into vertically aligned channels that keep the light from bleeding out horizontally. A sheet of frosted plastic is sandwiched between the two, which helps diffuse the light so the individual LEDs aren’t as visible.

All of the LEDs are connected to a NodeMCU ESP8266 by way of a 74AHCT125 level-shifter, though [Will] notes you could certainly use a different microcontroller with some tweaks to the code. As it stands, the user selects from various lighting patterns using two potentiometers and a button that have been mounted next to the panel. But if you were so inclined, it certainly wouldn’t take much to adapt the firmware so that the lighting effects could be triggered from the PC.

The sticklers will note that this means the characters can’t actually change or move, but as you can see in the video below, it still looks quite impressive when the LEDs get going behind them. If you’re looking to recreate the look on a considerably smaller scale, check out this Arduino library that can make it rain on a TFT display with just a few lines of code.

17 thoughts on “Enter The Matrix With This Custom PC Side Panel

          1. They can’t leave franchise alone. They need to pump it dry. It’s all about franchises, universes, remakes, prequels, sequels. Studios, and especially investors don’t like to take risks with original ideas. But with a popular franchise they can make a very bad movie, slap a franchise name on it, and people will come.

            Here, in Poland they make plenty of movies based on polish history or literary works. These usually are bad, but they follow the rule established by a movie director, Andrzej Wajda: “No matter what, schools will come”.

  1. so a decade after we were wowed by ARGB lighting, transparent LCD side panels and all manner of wild heavy duty pc modding we are taking a core2 slapping some backlights on it and calling it a modded gaming pc. Its a bit of a disservice to those of us who only merely dabble in the art, let alone the true artist

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