96×48 full-color LED Matrix

LED Panels

A few years ago I built a red-only 32 pixels high, 96 pixels wide LED Matrix, and due to all the positive responses I sought out to do it again the year after with a bigger better matrix. I did some research into affordable solutions, and as usual ended up with Chinese vendors. I got my hands on about 10 32×16 RGB LED panels with a 1cm pixel pitch, and a HUB75 connection, quite similar to the ADAFruit 32×16 matrix. ADAFruit had a bunch of information on them, and there are several other places where they’re being used, so I figured I’d give it a shot. I even bought a Digilent Basys 2 FPGA development board, as these boards are apparently best driven by an FPGA, and I was willing to pick that up.

96×48 full-color LED Matrix

However, when I started working on it initially, I found out that the Basys 2 did not even have enough memory for 24-bit color, and with my microcontroller of choice at that moment (TI Stellaris) I did not get more than 16-bit color without flickering. While the panels looked fun, with 16-bit color everything still looked very basic, and very limited. Definitely not the neat full-color panels I had in mind. I figured I’d either have to shell out for a much more expensive FPGA, or buy one of the purpose-built LED drivers from china, both of which were out of my budget for this project. The panels disappeared in a box somewhere, only to be stumbled upon at least 2 year later.

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