I am going to put all the nerdy, techy details, and performance data on my blog
, so I won't put them here. However, if you are going to build some of these, then it is a big, expensive project, so you may want to change some things, so here be a few things that you may want to change.
Obviously having a smaller pixel density is cheaper, but it is generally worse. Sometimes you can want an extra low density for effect (over 100mm), but you need high-brightness, mufti-LED modules, which are more expensive. You can also on'y go so high with pixel density before the modules themselves are too big (You can use the new WS2812 leds, but they can have reliability issues, and require more complex drivers). Make sure you allow for the wires as well, as they generally come out of the modules at an angle, not perpendicular. A higher pixel density also created problems with power distribution, so bear that in mind. More pixels also make it brighter, however, this mainly applies to casting light, not visibility in direct light. This will only apply if you are far enough away for the pixels to "merge" into a continuous image (ie you can't see the individual pixels in your computer screen, but they are there. If this you are too close for this (and you probably will be if you are building your own), then you are best just getting brighter modules, however, I have never had any problems to do with visibility. And obviously you also get more resolution...
I went with P50 (50mm pitch), enough resolution for text on one panel, but low enough to get a cool effect)
If you are making them relatively small, and a lot of them, then you can use squares. I used a rectangular 4:3 ration, which is quite good for general purpose, you can have a long banner, or a slightly rectangular shape with only two of them. You can also use them on their own in either portrait or landscape to good effect. They can be separated and vertically orientated on the back of a stage for a cool effect, either side of a drum kit, separated behind a dj, and so on. It is also an ideal ratio for tings like equalizers. If it is just for one band/dj, or an installation,then think about weird shapes. Right angled triangles either side of a drummer or dj, arrows or deltas tessellating with a gap behind a stage, arches, the list goes on. Needless to say this stops them from being general purpose :-)
Smaller panels make it more expensive to cover a given area. However, it makes handling easier. For rigging speed, there is a happy medium between small and large, it is quicker to rig a smaller panel, but you need to rig more of them. I was initially going to make twice as many panels, of half the size, but it is more expensive, and would have made rigging slower. I would not go bigger than my panels, as they may not be able to support themselves gripping to a vertical scaffolding pole, they would also be to heavy for most people to lift on their own (the size I used can be easily lifted by one man, but twice as bid would require two or more(. Any bigger and it would also not fit into a cherry picker or scissor lift.
After you sort out this stuff, you need to buy stuff, more specifically the stuff below
Electronics and Electrical
Serial LED Pixels, make sure you buy spares as many will turn out to be defective
5v Power supplies (if you use the pixels from me, then it is 10A per 150 pixels)
Raspberry Pi and SD card, 1 per panel
Neutrix ethercon and Powercon TRUE1 duplex connectors.
Wire and solder (lots...)
Mechanical and Build Stuff
Plywood and fire retardant treatment (if you can't be bothered drilling a few hundred holes in sheet metal)
Square Tubing (is it only me who thinks that this is a stupid name, I even googled it trying to find a better one :-D )
Standard Scaffolding Clamps
I think that's it, but don't count on it, you may find while reading through that I missed something off (very likely), if so comment and I will change it :-)
Read about the nerdy techy stuff at
Had no pictures for this, so this is completely irrelevant, just looks cool, and is perhaps a hint to my next instructable :-D