I'm in the process of making a Word Clock, and one of the things that I wanted to build for this project was a fairly simple 8 x 8 LED matrix.

This instructable deals with how to build an 8 x 8 LED matrix and controller that can be interfaced with an Arduino microprocessor.


  • 64 LED (I'm using 5 mm White LED with a forward voltage of 3.5 V and a load of 20 mA);
  • 1 10 uF electrolytic capacitor;
  • 1 x 0.1 uF ceramic capacitor;
  • 1 x 10 k ohm resistor;
  • 1 x MAX7219CNG Serially Interfaced, 8-Digit LED Display Driver;
  • lots of wire
  • plywood and 10 mm pine for case and matrix body
  • 800 GSM card for cells
  • 1 Arduino Uno

One of the things that I found a little frustrating was that I couldn't find an example of what I was trying to do on the Interweb. Oh, sure ... there were plenty of examples of how to make a controller for your prepackaged Dot Matrix Display, etc., but nothing that showed me the whole enchilada.

Step 1: Matrix Body

The body is made of a plywood board (210 mm x 210 mm), a lattice of card cut from 800 GSM card, white paint and white glue. I've also made a frame around the matrix from 10 mm pine strips (200 x 10 mm).

First, I created an 8 x 8 table in MS-Word and set the Row and Column height/width to 2.5 cm and then printed it out on my printer. I cut around the printed table and glued it onto a sheet of 6 mm plywood. When the glue was dry, I cut out the grid using a jigsaw.

The second stage was to mark the center of each cell and drill a 5 mm hole in the middle of each.

The lattice was made by cutting 20 mm x 200 mm strips of card from the 800 GSM stock and then cutting 1 mm slots into the strips so that I could slot the strips together to make a grid, much in the same way that you find wine bottles separated in cardboard cartons. The slots were cut 1 mm wide so that they would allow the opposite strip to fit easily. The lattice was glued together and another 4 x 201 mm pieces were cut to provide a border (with a 1 mm overlap).

After the glue had set, I glued the lattice to the plywood, using the printed grid as a guide for the lattice.

I laid the matrix down upside down on my workbench and weighted it down with a number of thick text books so that the glued and cured matrix would be very even.

I found that the matrix could easily support 10 kg of books, so I guess that it's pretty strong.

Where the slots were a little loose and allowed light to get from one cell into the neighboring cell, I cut a small piece of paper and glued it over the gap on both sides. This meant that the amount of light that can get through is minimized (but not eliminated).

About This Instructable



Bio: I have been working in IT since the mid 1980's. Most of that has been database and application development. I've been working on ... More »
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