Weekend Project: Build a Giant LED Pixel Display

James Bruce 02-02-2015

I love LED pixels: bright, easy to control, cheap, and so versatile. My last project was an Ambilight TV backlight Make Your Own Ambilight for $60 Ambient lighting that reacts to the image on your TV is easier and cheaper than you think - and it makes for a great upgrade to your home cinema experience. Read More , but generally I’m just in love with intelligent lighting An Introduction To DMX Lighting Control - Take Your Lighting To A Whole New Level Intelligent lighting systems used to be an expensive domain for professionals only; but with the proliferation of cheaper electronics and computer control systems, incredible lighting effects are now firmly within the reach of the hobbyist.... Read More . Today, we’ll be turning them into a big pixel display that can be hung on the wall of your office; either to serve a useful purpose, or just look incredibly pretty.


This is a relatively simple project that just takes time to construct, but can be a little fiddly when connecting the strands of LEDs. The basic idea is laying down strips of LED pixels in snake pattern on the back of the photo frame. The front will be frosted to help diffuse the light.

From there, it’s mostly a question of which software to use, depending on your needs – I’ll get you started with some demo code and pointers, then revisit the software angle in a later article as we figure out how to pull information like notifications and stock prices onto the display.

Step 0: You Will Need

Weekend Project: Build a Giant LED Pixel Display LED display materials

  • 10-meter strip (sold in two 5-meter reels) of LED pixels – I’ve used WS2812B because they’re cheap. You can buy double density strips at 60 LEDs/meter too, if you’d like a higher resolution.
  • 5V 10A power supply. The model I used takes 240V AC input to some screw terminals. If you need complete safety, purchase an enclosed model.
  • Arduino UNO.
  • Numerous lengths of thick wire; I used the offcuts from an old computer PSU.
  • Ikea RIBBA deep photo frame, 50cm x 50cm.
  • Glass frosting spray and white paint.

The total cost should be under $100. In terms of tools, you’ll also need:

  • Soldering iron and solder
  • Hot glue gun
  • Knife or scissors
  • Wire stripper

Be sure to read through our Electronics Skills for Beginners Beginner's Electronics: 10 Skills You Need to Know Many of us have never even touched a soldering iron - but making things can incredibly rewarding. Here's ten of the most basic DIY electronics skills to help you get started. Read More guide first!


Step 1: Do the Math

Weekend Project: Build a Giant LED Pixel Display LED display cut strips

If you’ve purchased the same 50cm x 50cm Ikea photo frame and LED strands as me, you should be able to fit 15 strands of 15 LEDs. However, there’s nothing to stop you using a different sized frame. Each LED is spaced about an inch apart, so I was aiming for roughly inch squared pixels on the display – yes, that’s 1 DPI. Not exactly Retina graphics.

Do the math, and draw some guide lines on the frame backing. Measure twice, and double check: I must have left a small difference between lines, because by the time it came to sticking everything down, I realised I could only fit 14 strands of 15 LEDs. No matter, the software is easy to adjust for a different number of pixels with varying row lengths and number of rows. Go ahead and cut your LEDs into appropriate lengths. Unfortunately, I found 15 pixels per strand coincided exactly with the soldered joints on one of my reels, so I was forced to de-solder them. On the plus side, at least these were then pre-soldered.

Step 2: Frost the Glass

Weekend Project: Build a Giant LED Pixel Display LED display frosting


To help diffuse the light from the LEDs, I decided to use some basic glass frosting spray on both sides. Do this outdoors as the fumes are dangerous, and try to spray as evenly as possible. The frosting is surprisingly hard wearing once it’s dried, but you need to ensure an even coating first, and avoid scratches at all costs.

While you’re outside, spray the back of the photo frame white too – this will reflect the light of the LED back out. We won’t be using the white cardboard photo surround. Cut off one of the corners for the power and signal wires.

Step 3:Attach LEDs to the Board

Weekend Project: Build a Giant LED Pixel Display LED display tape

Use a strong adhesive or superglue. I tried with double-sided tape, only to find it slipped off a few weeks later; the hot glue gun is even worse for this when both sides are non-porous. The exact positioning shouldn’t matter too much if you’ve purchased strands enclosed in a rubber case – they can move freely within that for repositioning.


Remember that the signal will snake around from the start to finish, and that there is a specific direction to each strand. Lay one with the arrow pointing right, then the following strand going to the left, and repeat. Double check this before gluing them down!

Step 4: Soldering

Weekend Project: Build a Giant LED Pixel Display LED display solder connections

Connecting each strand will require 3 lengths of wire of slightly different lengths. In each case, you’ll be connecting the inner two pads with the shortest length of wire; then the middle two; then the outer two with the longest length. The inner pad will alternate between the +5V line, and the GND line, depending on which side of the frame you’re currently working on.

Make sure both the pads and the wire are pre-soldered. This is the most time consuming part of the project, but it’s crucial you don’t rush and double check you’re connecting the correct lines!


Step 5: Secure all Strands

Weekend Project: Build a Giant LED Pixel Display LED display cable tie

Finally, if you’ve used the power and input wires that came attached to your strand, you may find that constantly moving around the board has pulled the first strand free. I decided to drill two small holes and thread through a white cable tie to secure this part. If you’re having trouble sourcing strong glue, you might want to consider this for securing all the strands at both ends.

Step 6 Wiring Test

Weekend Project: Build a Giant LED Pixel Display LED display strand test

The wiring is simple: pin 6 on the Arduino is used as the signal pin to control the LEDs; while the 5V power into the LEDs should come directly from your external power supply. Connect a common ground wire between the strand, your Arduino, and the power supply. Do not attempt to power the strand directly from your Arduino, or to connect the 5V power supply directly to the Arduino when USB is connected (as it will be to upload the test code).

Download and add the Adafruit NeoPixel library to your Arduino libraries folder, then launch the Arduino. Perform an initial strand test using the example strandtest code included in the library. Adjust the number of LEDs you have in the first parameter of the following line (change 60 to however many):

Adafruit_NeoPixel strip = Adafruit_NeoPixel(60, PIN, NEO_GRB + NEO_KHZ800);

If the animation stops at a particular row, unplug it immediately and check the wiring. You’ve either got the strand in the wrong direction; the wires are crossed; or you accidentally soldered the +5V to the GND.

Step 7: Place into the Frame

Weekend Project: Build a Giant LED Pixel Display led pixel frame complete

Since I’m using a deeper recess than the frame was designed to allow, I first used the hot glue gun to seal the glass to the frame. I’ve then added some short pieces of rubber packaging around the outer edge of the frame to create the required depth, before placing the LEDs back. After a final test of the LEDs, I used the hot glue gun again to seal everything into place.

You may also want to cut a small notch in the corner of the frame to accommodate the thick cable.

That’s it in terms of constructing the actual display, though you’ll probably want to hide the power supply and Arduino in a project box eventually. The rest is down to software.


UPDATE: Unfortunately, the site hosting Glediator software appears to be offline for some time now. If you know where to find a copy of the firmware and PC software, please let us know in the comments so we can update this guide. 

For parties or use in a professional club setting, Glediator from is the king of LED matrix control, capable of driving up to 512 WS2812/NeoPixels at 24 frames per second. It allows you to create live or pre-recorded mixes of LED animations, and can even add GIFs (yes, I’m looking at you Nyan Cat); and just like DJ software, includes a fader to smoothly mix between animations.


To get started with Glediator, load this firmware onto your Arduino UNO, and ensure the signal cable is on pin 6. Don’t forget to adjust the variable that says how many LEDs you have.

Within Glediator running, open the options and change the matrix size and output. Adjust Pixel Order if your layout is different, but unfortunately there’s very little documentation for this step, so it’s mostly trial and error. If your output doesn’t match up with what’s being shown on screen, try a different setting. HS_BL worked for me, which I suspect means “horizontal snake, starting bottom left”.


Glediator is a pro-level app, so while I may cover it in future, for now I’ll leave you to explore the interface and play around. Try loading a different animation on the left and right side, then sliding the fader between the two; or you’ll find a ready-made playlist of sequences on the far right, which is shown in the demo video above.

Adafruit NeoMatrix and GFX Library

Adafruit has produced a stunningly useful library for working with these kind of pixel matrices. The first is called the Adafruit GFX library, originally designed for working with TFT and LCD displays; the NeoMatrix library is a modification to this which makes all the functions work with NeoPixel LED matrices. With your matrix defined, this opens up a huge range of simple-to-use functions such as outputting text or display a bitmap sprite graphic.

If you’ve made the project exactly as I did, you’ll find this sample code helpful. The most important part of the code is here:

#define XSIZE 15
#define YSIZE 14
#define PIN 6
Adafruit_NeoMatrix matrix = Adafruit_NeoMatrix(XSIZE, YSIZE, PIN,

The first few few lines should be self-explanatory. The bottom three tell the graphics library about the layout – in this case, my first pixel is located in the bottom left, and it’s arranged in rows, with the rows following a zigzag pattern. Check the library documentation if you’ve oriented it in a different way.

I’ve defined a few sprites in the code already (though only the smiley face is used). To create your own sprites, you’ll find an Img2Code Java application within the GFX library download.


In a future article, we’ll look at using the library to display useful information such as stock quotes or Twitter streams, but for now you should be able to play around with my sample code and load your own images.

That’s all for the tutorial this time. You’ve made a giant LED display, now it’s just a case of figuring out what to do with it. Consider making a mini lightning cloud lamp with the leftover LEDs.

And if you’re ready to light up your PC 5 Ways to Make Your PC Glow With Programmable LEDs Want to pimp your PC case with some LEDs? Brighten things up with these programmable LED systems. Read More , here are ways you can make it glow with programmable LEDs.

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  1. Karol
    April 29, 2020 at 11:30 am

    Hi James,
    I am just building mine and wondering how should I power it. Where the arduino gets power from ? I understand that pin 6 is a signal the I connect 5v from power supply to leds and ground from power supply to leds and arduino but could you possibly send me more details and maybe a simple drawing please ?

    • James Bruce
      April 30, 2020 at 9:49 am

      When not connected to USB (ie, running as a standalone fixture), the power should be drawn from the external 5V power supply. Disconnect it before plugging in the USB again.

      When plugged into USB, the USB will power the Arduino from the PC. Ensure the external supply is ONLY plugged to the LEDs, and connected to the Arduino, or or you will fry the USB port as the LEDs attempt to power themselves from there.

  2. Eric
    March 16, 2020 at 4:43 pm

    Has anyone actually tried doing this with the 60led/m variant as suggsted in the article? How does that change the power requirements? Does it cause issues with light diffusion on the glass facing having them so close to each other? I assume you would need 2x the strips to make the same size screen right?

  3. Jiker Bay
    September 7, 2019 at 11:48 am

    Hi James,

    During my build went off line (several weeks now) ? Do you know where I can source a copy of Glediator ?


    • James Bruce
      September 9, 2019 at 8:34 am

      sorry Jiker, I had a quick look through my file store and can't find another copy. I'll update the article to reflect the fact it's offline.

  4. JP
    July 20, 2019 at 9:41 pm

    Is there any chance of some updated code please ? !! Some functions (eg prog_uint8_t) appear to deprecated and compiling it for a Uno these days seems to result in lots of errors ....

    • James Bruce
      July 22, 2019 at 12:25 pm

      Hi JP. Which bit of code are you havign trouble with exactly? The Glediator interface appears to be abandoned, with the last update in 2014.

  5. rigo
    May 11, 2019 at 7:22 am

    Where can you save the images/output from Glediator and load them into arduino? can you load the project from glediator into sd memory card and how would you read it in arduino? arduino uno or twensy 3.6? please advice

    • James Bruce
      May 11, 2019 at 7:51 am

      You can't, as far as I know - GLEDIATOR is a live controller, only. If you want to start saving shows and replaying them later, I think you'd need to look at more professional solutions like DMX.

  6. Kim
    March 15, 2019 at 2:35 am

    Hi James,

    I've just completed this little project myself and it looks incredible! Thank you.
    However, I'm finding it incredibly difficult to install rxtx to my Mac, so that I can't get Glediator to work... I have moved the rxtx files into the Extension folder of the library but Glediator is still not giving me any COM-port options.

    Do you have any advice on how you installed rxtx on your Mac?
    Thanks so much in advance.


    • James Bruce
      March 15, 2019 at 9:30 am

      Hi Kim, did you try the link posted in comment further down? - Failing that, it's been a while since I had this running, but I know Mac OS has made it bloody difficult to install unsecured extensions. I think you need to unlock various things and disable some core security features.

  7. Pete
    January 29, 2019 at 6:14 am

    This has been a great introduction to Arduino for me, thanks. I have successfully built a slightly smaller version and have made Glediator standalone by saving its animations to a datastream on an SD card, then reading that into the Arduino. I used an enclosed 5V 10A power supply with a barrel jack adapter but one thing I was uncertain about was the thickness of the wiring. I ran power to both ends of the LED strip and I wasn’t sure if I needed wire capable of running the full 10A, or 5A, or what precisely. In the end I just used very thick wire from an old power cable and it all worked, but I was wondering if this is likely to be inefficient or whether using too-thick wiring is not something to worry about at all?

  8. Trevor
    January 14, 2018 at 8:09 pm

    Has anyone tried to connect an API this to for real time display on content?

  9. Uttam Dutta
    January 7, 2018 at 11:30 am

    its great project, last few days I am searching some thing with WS2812 based RGB led display, finally got what i desired.
    but many things are not enough clear, like how pc based graphics software will control the matrix, if i disconnect the laptop then patterns will be continued with the led display,
    please need little more step wise explanation , then which pin of arduino to be connected with data in of led strip

  10. Shane McCloy
    September 15, 2017 at 3:02 am

    I'm trying to make a matrix on a sphere with ws2812b rgbstrips . The rows varry in length 30,22,30,22,30 ect. Any idea how a could make simple shapes?

    • James Bruce
      September 15, 2017 at 9:59 am

      That's very ambitious, and very difficult. You're basically talking about some kind of a transformation matrix to turn coordinates from a flat plane into a spherical one. I'm afraid that's beyond me, but maybe learning how to work with transformation matrices on Arduino would be a good starting point.

  11. Ed
    August 28, 2017 at 4:41 pm

    For those running a matrix on Arduino UNO and wanting to use Glediator on OS X. See this page for a link to download the rxtx java library. Copy the RXTXcomm.jar and librxtxSerial.jnilib files to /Library/Java/Extensions and start Glediator. I configured my output to use the same serial port that is used in the Arduino IDE. So figure out which port Arduino is using and use that for Glediator, but I don't think you can have the Arduino IDE open at the same time as Glediator. Then you need to set the output options. In my case the com port was /dev/cu.usbmodem141421 and I set my Baud-Rate to B_921600 as higher rates did not appear to be supported, Output Mode is Glediator_Protocol, Single_Pixels, HS_BL (in my case), HS_TL, GRB. Hope this helps someone as it took a while to figure it out.

  12. Anonymous
    June 23, 2017 at 7:59 am

    Where did you use that voltage converter please give picture and extra step

    • James Bruce
      June 23, 2017 at 12:51 pm

      It's just a 10amp 5v power supply, nothing fancy. If you're not comfortable with exposed mains wiring, please source a power supply that's fully enclosed and with a fitted plug.

  13. Sam
    May 15, 2017 at 5:44 pm

    if I use a different size frame will that stiill work

  14. Jayden
    February 12, 2017 at 12:21 pm

    Hey James,

    Thanks so much! Awesome article. Just wondering if you could recommend what I should do to create a massive version of this? I'm talking 33 feet wide, at least. Should I increase the dot pitch, or use larger LED's?

    I'll keep learning and reading your other comments, but any advice would be greatly appreciated.



    • James Bruce
      February 13, 2017 at 9:51 am

      Tricky. I haven't seen controllable strips that are larger LEDs, or spaced further apart, so if you wanted to do that you'd need to buy separate pixels and then wire them in yourself, which would be even more effort for something that large. You'd also need to reinject power often, given the voltage drop across so much wire. In addition, you'll want some kind of white wall between each pixel to stop the light bleeding and make it more defined as a pixel. I'm not even sure one pixel per foot squared would be bright enough... but more than that and you'll run into controller limitations - in which case, look up Teensy, I know they can handle thousands of pixels at once, though won't work with Glediator.

      Good luck, sounds epic!

  15. Josh Cooey
    January 17, 2017 at 7:06 pm

    Hey James,

    I really love this project and am looking at making it myself, but I'm running into some questions with the power supply I need. I want to make a 24x12 matrix (288 leds), upon doing the math

    24 x 12 = 288 x 60 mA/led= ~18 Amps

    I reviewed your project and you use a 10 Amp power supply for 210 LEDs, which using the same math calls for +12 Amps. My question is, what would be the smallest power supply I would need? I'm trying to stay away from the need for resistors, and any help on how to wire the lights for maximum efficiency would be greatly appreciated.

    • James Bruce
      January 17, 2017 at 7:29 pm

      That's correct - it would be 12A if all the LEDs were turned on full brightness (white). In reality, that never happens. Each individual color uses 20mA, and they aren't all on at the same time for pattern or text displays. If you wanted to use it as a blindly bright white light or strobe, you would need something capable of the full current draw.

      When using the FastLED, you can also set a limit in code -


      // limit my draw to 1A at 5v of power draw

      So, realistically, 15A or even 10A would be fine, though you should set the current limit in code too.

  16. Abhinav Gandhi
    January 15, 2017 at 7:26 pm

    Hey James,

    I was wondering if I could use Glediator with an adafruit Huzzah Feather or a Raspberry Pi as they can be easily connected to the internet and I have a number of these lying around. I don't want to buy a separate ethernet or wifi shield for the uno.

    • James Bruce
      January 16, 2017 at 8:11 am

      Huzzah is just an ESP8266 module, which is Arduino compatible, so yes, it can be used as the recevier end of Glediator. Raspberry Pi cannot. However, I think you're confusing some things here: there are two separate projects. One is to use the native Adafruit/FastLED libraries, and add an ehternet shield or use the built-in wifi to receive messages and display them. A separate project is to upload the Glediator firmware, and connect it to a PC. These are mutually exclusive and cannot be combined.

  17. Gary
    January 4, 2017 at 6:47 pm

    will this project work with a Arduino nano or micro

    • James Bruce
      January 5, 2017 at 8:31 am

      Yes, it absolutely should. Get the 5V version of the Micro though, and remember to never power the LED strip directly from the board (only the datat pin and ground should go to your Arduino; power should come externally)

      • Gary Trivelli
        January 5, 2017 at 12:05 pm

        How do i know if i Have the 5v version? And do i have to change the code or can i use the same code no change for the nano or micro.

  18. Vijay
    December 3, 2016 at 7:54 am

    Sir, I have a few questions,
    1) can I use single color light instead of rgb light
    2) can you show pictures of connection of lights to arduino board or if you have any video to show the wiring.

    • James Bruce
      January 5, 2017 at 8:32 am

      The wiring and code would be completely different.

  19. Vijay
    December 1, 2016 at 12:03 pm

    Is it possible for you to send the full code at my mail.

    • James Bruce
      December 1, 2016 at 12:58 pm

      Not really, there's a couple of different codes in use here, and the idea is to play around. The code for Glediator is provided on the glediator site.

  20. Markese
    September 11, 2016 at 4:56 am

    Would powering the led strips with a solar cell be practical?

    • James Bruce
      September 11, 2016 at 7:26 am

      Not directly, you would need a battery and charging circuit in between, and it would need to be a fairly substantial battery. You'd be looking at another $150 for a suitable cell, charger and battery.

  21. James
    July 10, 2016 at 7:51 pm

    Hi, I'm trying to run your code with the smiley generated from img2code but my arduino is telling me... Exit status 1
    'Prog_uint8_t does not name a type

    It's highlighting this line : prog_uint8_t smile[ ] PROGMEM=

    Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. Thank you

    • JP
      July 17, 2019 at 8:11 pm

      Yes, I get that too !

  22. Julie
    July 6, 2016 at 6:39 am

    Hi Mr Bruce
    Thanks for your tutorial.
    Do you know if the adafruit library is compatible with WiFiUDP?
    Because it worked perfectly until I added the line WiFiUDP udp;


  23. julie
    July 5, 2016 at 2:17 pm

    Hey James Bruce,

    Thanks for your tutorial.
    Do you know if the adafruit library is compatible with WifiUDP?

    Because it worked perfectly until I added the line WiFiUDP udp;

    Thanks Julie

  24. Hamed
    July 4, 2016 at 4:42 am

    Thank you for your efforts.
    I want to ask , if I want it to display live text or graphics from mobile. How can I do it?

  25. Courtney
    June 22, 2016 at 3:59 am

    Can anyone point me to the exact power supply product used for this project?

  26. Jason Mills
    June 17, 2016 at 9:19 am

    Can you play video?

  27. Lucio V
    May 27, 2016 at 5:00 pm

    Hello James,

    I have a quick question for you... I am trying to make a led graduation cap that displays a simple scrolling text such as "Congratulations Class of 2016," on an endless loop. I don't want to carry around a computer to control a software during graduation, nor do I want to carry a large power supply in my pocket. Do you have any suggestions on how to use the individually addressable LEDs like you used above for my project? Also, would this be something I can code on an Arduino without the use of additional software? If so how do I go about doing so?

    Thank you!!!

    • James Bruce
      May 29, 2016 at 7:09 am

      No need for a computer, the Arduino can handle simple text using the Adafruit NeoGFX library. It'd be easiest to just use a Neopixel matrix rather than trying to cut up a strip: - either one or two of those, though it might get expensive.

  28. Abdul Habib
    May 4, 2016 at 4:51 pm

    I bought a 4 meters x 4 roll of led strip. and then I cut each 4 meter to two piece. Totally I got 8 lines of strips.
    so then I connected each end to each other. When I want to test them the test starts and then the whole board blinks. I have a power supply of 5 volt and 2 amp is this ok?
    can you tell me how to write text into that?
    is there any problem with cutting the led strips?


    • James Bruce
      May 4, 2016 at 5:14 pm

      Work out how much you need at 60mA per LED. So 30 LEDs/m (but your's might be 60/m) would be:

      (30 x 60mA x 16)/1000 = ~30 amps.

      So no, 2 amps is not nearly enough!

      Probably you\'ll need three 10amp supplies, injected at various points along the strips. That's a huge project right there.

      You'll also have problems driving that many LEDs from an Arduino, I think. You may need to use a more powerful Teensy board - it has a great Ws2812B library that can play video too:

      • Abdul Habib
        May 14, 2016 at 3:17 pm

        Hi Mr. Bruce,
        Thanks for reply,
        Can you please write to me how to put text into the project you made.


  29. Fernando Gonzalez
    April 5, 2016 at 11:45 pm

    Help, I did all of the hardware somewhat similar, but when it comes to the programming, It doesn't work. In the output window in glediator, the COM port wont show up?! and i got all of the RXTX files. Where have i Gone worng? Please Help.

    • James Bruce
      April 8, 2016 at 9:05 am

      Hi Fernando - have you verified the hardware is correct with the basic strand test? You'll want to ensure that's working before you jump into Glediator. You also need admin permission in windows to access the COM ports.

  30. daniel
    April 2, 2016 at 8:26 pm

    Thanks for the instruction!
    I've now made my own display with these changes:
    * 18x10 WS2812B in silicone sleeve - bought them at adafruit but later discovered they could be found a lot cheaper elsewhere. Well, I guess adafruit deserves some support :)
    * Instead of desoldering soldered joints, I just cut them.
    * I used a 16A 5V Velleman PSU.
    * Instead of a stock Uno I used an adafruit metro mini
    * I splitted the 18 strips into 6 groups at 3 strips with one 2A fuse each on a stripboard based powersplitter.
    * I realized the power can be fed either way on the strips as long as the data follows a snake pattern. Important to make sure everything has the same GND tho.
    * I used an IKEA GUNNABO 50x70cm frame instead of the RIBBA since it has a nice ~1cm distance between the glass and the "picture"
    * the GUNNABO frame also had the exact size as a A2 standard sheet of black paper that became my backdrop. No cutting needed.
    * I glued the WS2812's silicone sleeve onto the black paper with silicone based wet room glue.

    It worked on the first attempt both with the strand test and in glediator! w00t!


    • James Bruce
      April 3, 2016 at 7:11 am

      Thanks for your write-up and tips Daniel, and very happy you got it working first time!

  31. jackson
    March 29, 2016 at 3:18 am

    I have downloaded all the strandtest program, and uploaded it to the arduino, but none of the lights are turning on or responding in any way. The same thing happens when I try to use the Glediator program. Any suggestions?

    • James Bruce
      April 3, 2016 at 7:13 am

      If the basic strand test on Arduino isn't working, I'd guess your wiring is wrong somewhere, but without a photo or anything it's hard to tell.

  32. rana
    March 16, 2016 at 3:47 pm

    it is work in outdoor ?? ...or ti is water weather profe or not?? pls describe about led display

    • James Bruce
      March 16, 2016 at 3:50 pm

      The exposed electronics and wooden picture frame is not weather-proof, no.

  33. Fernando Gonzalez
    March 16, 2016 at 1:53 am

    Hey there, im creating one of these displays using the same (almost) materials but just a slightly bigger board;( 500 pixels!) I was able to do all of the wiring and strip setup, althouhg im unable to set up the glediator softwarare with the Arduino uno. Im very new to this and I need help. May you explain me if possible, by steps how to get the Arduino datafile, and glediator(as well as the other plugin glediator needs for the Arduino-WS2812) Thank you!

    • James Bruce
      March 16, 2016 at 10:36 am

      Hmm, I'm not sure what to add other than what the text already says:

      1. download the firmware to your Arduino, having changed the number of LEDs.
      2. Open GLEDIATOR and select correct serial port, same options as shown in the screenshot.

      Which bit are you having trouble with? Have you uploaded the firmware to the Arduino?

      • Fernando Gonzalez
        March 17, 2016 at 11:46 am

        Well, I did do the sequence as told, but when i power it on, only the first led powers up,(like a white/blueish color) but still cant controll the leds using glediator,

        one thing I couldnt solve was that when setting up the glediator output menu, the com port is closed, and in the port box, it doesnt dispay any ports?

        What may be my problem?

        • James Bruce
          March 17, 2016 at 12:04 pm

          Couple of things:

          - Did the other test code work? The strand-test from Adafruit? ie, are you sure it's not a hardware problem?

          - Glediator may need admin level to access COM ports, make sure you're running in admin mode.

        • Fernando Gonzalez
          March 18, 2016 at 11:22 pm

          Well I did try all of the test codes from the library and every time I verify the code i get this messege: Arduino: 1.6.8 (Windows 10), Board: "Arduino/Genuino Uno"



          compilation terminated.

          exit status 1
          Error compiling for board Arduino/Genuino Uno.

          I really dont know what that meas?! And for the glediator, still the COM port doesn't show up, (and i have no idea how to run it as a admin)

          I really need help, plus im getting graded for this!
          I appreciate your replies!

        • James Bruce
          March 19, 2016 at 8:56 am

          I think our comment system has stripped an imported part of that error message. Please paste the full contents on Pastebin or Github Gist. That said, it sounds like an incomatpiblity with the latest version of Arduino software; or you haven't got the library it references. Did you add the relevant libraries to your libraries folder first?

  34. ajee
    March 15, 2016 at 5:02 am

    is it possible to run this setup on batteries?

    • James Bruce
      March 15, 2016 at 9:09 am

      It's possible to run anything on batteries, if your batteries are powerful enough.

      Practically speaking though, no, it uses quite a bit of power. I suppose if the LEDs were off most of the time, and only activated on motion sensing or something, that might be feasible. Not really cost effective in any case.

  35. danerey olan
    February 25, 2016 at 11:00 am

    it is ok i used a guisdino??

    • James Bruce
      February 25, 2016 at 11:04 am

      I have no idea what that is. As long as it runs at 5v, should be fine though

  36. nick
    February 19, 2016 at 12:26 pm

    Will it make a difference if the strand is WS2811 vs the WS 2812B you used?

    • James Bruce
      February 19, 2016 at 12:39 pm

      As long as the Adafruit library supports it, it shoudlnt. But I havent used them before, so check the docs.

  37. Rolie
    February 11, 2016 at 12:11 am

    Got my matrix ( 16 X 13 ) Built. Ran the strand test and it works great. Arduino IDE has the right COM port ( If not I would not be able to upload the strand test ) I uploaded the ws2812_glediator onto the UNO and the lights on the UNO flash as if the code is being loaded. I open Glediator_V2.jar and I can setup the matrix size just fine but when I try to setup the Output I use glediator_protocol and HS_TL. But for the COM port there is nothing there to pick!
    I have read other posts here and it says to make sure Glediator has "administrator privileges" but when I right click on the jar file there is no option to "RUN AS ADMINISTRATOR" as with other icons. How do you run gladiator with administrator privileges?
    Please help ( So close yet so far! 8) )
    Thanks a lot

    • nick
      February 12, 2016 at 12:56 pm

      The problem I Found with no COM port in Gled.. there was a windows XP update/patch thing I had to DL for rx/tx to work properly. Once I DLed and fixed it GLED saw the COM port.
      but the trouble I am having is getting GLED to display anything on the LED I didn't use the same exact strand of LED in this tutorial..and IM not sure if that is my problem or not.
      I took a break from it..i got frustrated.
      I will see if I can find the link for the RX/TX repair I installed and post it later.

      • Rolie
        February 13, 2016 at 6:21 am

        I'm running Windows 10 not XP. But thanks for the reply.

        • marissa
          March 15, 2016 at 9:18 pm

          hi there, I had the same problem and found that it was an internet explorer problem. Try downloading java and rxtx with Mozilla again and see if you have any luck.

  38. John
    February 7, 2016 at 3:01 am

    hi i'm a complete biginner and want to do the same thing as Tommy Forward can u explain it really really simply i don't understand anything that u have wrote i am going to use the arduino Uno - Thanks

  39. Tommy Forward
    February 4, 2016 at 10:18 am

    Hi I'm going to make a coffee table out of this and I'm wondering if there's a way I can display phone notification or stock prices on it (iPhone)

    • James Bruce
      February 4, 2016 at 10:34 am

      The Neopixel library (or the Neopixel GFX extension) can be used to display text output.

      Phone notifications are difficult, but if you added to add a network/wifi shield, you could create a simple HTTP api for a generic message to be displayed, then hook that into the IFTTT maker channel (and then whatever stock price or notification recipes you wanted). Using an ESP8266 instead of Arduino Uno would be easier, since it has the full HTTP stack and Wi-Fi ready without messing around (and cheaper)

  40. Leo
    January 31, 2016 at 5:46 pm

    I copied the code and have glediator running but in gled, there seems to be no com port when I go into output.

    • James Bruce
      January 31, 2016 at 7:36 pm

      First, make sure your regular Arduino software is able to identify the Arduino and show it in the ports list. If it's not even there, you've got Windows drivers problems. Next, make sure you're running Glediator with administrator privileges, probably needs that to access hardware.

  41. Anonymous
    January 23, 2016 at 6:44 am

    As far as software goes is there a program that can handle more then 512 leds?


  42. Anonymous
    January 18, 2016 at 7:49 pm

    couldn't I connect this

    directly to the led strip. that should do the same thing right?

    PS I am Beunhaas. i made myself an acount.

  43. Beunhaas
    January 16, 2016 at 8:56 pm

    Do you need a cable from the last led strip to close the circuit? And in what output from the power suply do i have to put the +5v cable in.

    • James Bruce
      January 17, 2016 at 3:12 pm

      No need to close the circuit.

      Depends on your power supply. DC barrel plugs are generally centre positive, but you'd need to check your exact adapter. Is it not labelled?

  44. nick
    January 12, 2016 at 1:43 am

    I am having trouble with this..
    i uploaded the code..but my LEDs just flash..the Arduino doesn't seem to have any effect..
    I do have a different strand than you used..these are addressable.. and have a vcc, grnd and signal wire..just like yours..with power hooked to the strand they just flash..the controller has no effect..

    • nick
      January 12, 2016 at 2:17 am

      Ok...I have that problem fixed..i started at the wrong end of the string..but now the problem is..
      I can't get Glediator to see a COM port.. Any ideas?

      • James Bruce
        January 12, 2016 at 8:57 am

        I assume the Arduino IDE is correctly recognizing the COM port? Perhaps Glediator needs to be run in admin mode to access hardware?

  45. Daniel
    January 8, 2016 at 8:46 am

    What would I have to do to make this a stand alone display without staying tethered to a computer? Is it possible to control it via bluetooth or wifi?

    • James Bruce
      January 8, 2016 at 9:09 am

      It already is. There are two methods describer here, one using just the Neopixel library for Arduino which you program yourself. You could easily add an ESP8266 to that for WiFi remote control. The Glediator method is a bit of PC software, so that can't run without a PC.

  46. Anonymous
    December 20, 2015 at 4:32 pm

    Can i use single color led strip? rated voltage is 12vDC. Il just need some relay add ons for the triggering switch is it possible? does i need some codes modification on my process?


    • James Bruce
      December 20, 2015 at 4:50 pm

      No, you can't. Single colour LED strips do not have individually controllable pixels.

      • Anonymous
        December 21, 2015 at 4:41 pm

        thanks.. nice project indeed

  47. AT
    December 17, 2015 at 9:45 pm

    Adafruit recommends splitting power every meter when creating longer runs. They claim "if you try to power too many LEDs from just one end of the strip, they’ll start to “brown out” the further they are from the power supply." Is the single 5V 10A power supply sufficient for this many LEDs?

    • James Bruce
      December 18, 2015 at 8:14 am

      I didn't have that issue on this project, but I have elsewhere, usually after about 2 meters. Then again, I dont add the resistor they recommend either, so I'd imagine combined with would need new power every metre, yeh.

      You dont need another power supply, just cut the 5v line where you need to and "reinject" the power direct from the supply. 10a is more than enough, you just need to put it into the strip again.

      • AT
        December 18, 2015 at 6:51 pm

        Awesome, thank you!

  48. Andrey Garcia
    November 19, 2015 at 7:14 am

    how if i copy the video to micro SD and use SD Shield to read the video, so it no need to run with CPU or COMPUTER, just micro SD
    is that possible?

    • James Bruce
      November 19, 2015 at 9:56 am

      In short, no. If you're using Glediator, you need the software. If you're programming it all yourself, then you could theoretically record long sequences to an SD card, but that's gonna be quite difficult.

      • Andrey Garcia
        November 19, 2015 at 1:26 pm

        Thank you for your answer James, i love your tutorials, well done mate! hahaha

  49. Anonymous
    November 19, 2015 at 5:13 am

    I have a question, a similar project for 1 meter 30 centimeters wide and 1 meter high;It can be done with the same power source Arduino UNO andthe same ?. Thank you very much for your answer!

  50. Anonymous
    September 25, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    i am working on this projet but the system gives me that error:
    error: ISO c++ forbids initialization of member 'passThruFlag'
    error: making 'passThruFlag' static
    error: ISO c++ forbids in-class initialization of non-const static member 'passThruFlag'

    Can you help me?

    • James Bruce
      September 25, 2015 at 2:57 pm

      Have you modified any of the code, or is this just using everything I've posted? It's possible the latest version of Arduino editor introduces errors.

  51. Anonymous
    June 6, 2015 at 7:37 pm

    What would be needed to run two boards at the same time, I don't want to run separate images, I just want to run the same image on two screens and be able to actively change it on both at the same time??

  52. Michael McCann
    May 27, 2015 at 1:29 pm

    I'm doing this for a programming class in high school and we have a few questions: 1.) What particular type of "think" wire is used? Does it matter? 2.) Could I get a link to the Power Supply? Is a 220V Input fine? 3.) Could I get a link to the LED strips as well? We're not quite sure what we're looking for.

  53. EEEnthusiast
    April 8, 2015 at 2:08 pm

    That's a slick panel! Did you end up doing anything in particular with it or just hang it for decoration? I'm planning on building something similar myself as part of arduino tutorials, but my vision would be to have some kind of a "clip" running on the panel. Would there be any code limit as far as the maximum number of images goes? I'd assume it would be large, but at the same time each frame would have a lot of data stored.