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.