In this Instructable, I'll talk about PIXEL which is currently on KickStarter (Shameless Plug). And also how a guy with a day job can take an idea and turn it into a real product.

The KickStarter for PIXEL also includes the DIY Kit version of this projectas well as a turn key, fully assembled version.

**** UPDATE KickStarter Funding Successful ***

PIXEL is an LED based picture frame that displays pixel art. Pixel art is a retro form of digital art where the image is manipulated pixel-by-pixel. PIXEL comes in two frame options: a gold, ornate frame or a modern, black frame.

You set the image or animation on PIXEL from your Android device. Sorry iOS users, only Android is supported at this time :-(

An image like this

An animation like this

Looks like this on PIXEL

Looks like this on PIXEL

My goal was to market PIXEL as an art piece so I knew to pull that off, I was going to need some real art. The content I did myself definitely was not going to cut it. PIXEL's display is 32x32, essentially each LED equals one pixel. So as luck would have it, there is a sub-culture of throw back artists who like to work at the pixel level just like it was done in the early days of computers and video games. They call themselves pixel artists and can be found on sites like pixeljoint.com and wayofthepixel.net. So I posted on those forums what I was looking for and much like the Maker community, they are a friendly bunch willing to help. I offered a nominal fee in exchange for their art work, some of it existing and some new. Below are 5 artists who offered to help. The deal was I get some art work for a decent price and they get some exposure. I also signed up to do one Android app for each artists showing their work on PIXEL.

Kirk Barnett (Pixel PileDriver) is a programmer and artist. Attending the Digipen Institute of technology he studied Art Production, Real-time Simulation Programming, and lots of math that blew his mind. He enjoys pixel art, painting, animation, shaders, particles and anything video game related. Currently he is an indie game developer and co-founder BlockLight. Everyone says he works too hard, but to him that just doesn't seem possible.

View Kirk's work on PIXEL

Get Kirk's PIXEL app (free)

Felipe Alfonso is a chilean Game artist and Developer who really loves making 2D art for videogames. He has been pixeling since he was 16 years old, 8 years later he is still pushing pixel like there is no tomorrow. He has worked on several mobile and web games and now he is a full time indie game developer.

View Felipe's work on PIXEL

Gabe Mir is a pixel artist who resides in South Florida. He has always been interested in video games since his youth, and has been practicing pixel art for a few years. Academically, he is an alumni of Florida International University, where he studied psychology. Currently, he works at an office, but enjoys making art as a hobby as well as freelance work.

View Gabe's work on PIXEL

Get Gabe's PIXEL app (free)

Zhi Jiang is a pixel artist living in China. Zhi has eight years of pixel art experience from commercial games to web site illustrations.

View Zhi's work on PIXEL

Get Zhi's PIXEL app (free)

Rommel Brittany is a freelance pixel artist living in Louisville, Kentucky. He has been pixeling for six years now starting at the age of 10. Rommel has lent his talent to several online games and other projects.

View Rommel's work on PIXEL

Animations from pixel artist: Kirk Barnett (Pixel PileDriver)

Interactive animation with the proximity sensor

Animations from pixel artist: Christopher Goldsmith (imkrut)

Step 1: Targeting the Non-Technical User

LEDs are a really cool medium for projects and art. However, LED projects beyond turning on a single LED are not easy for non technical folks and usually require some form of programming and circuit wiring. Even with Arduino which definitely made things easier, still the user needs to write some code and/or wire up a circuit. My goal for PIXEL was to make it accessible to a non technical user like an artist and require zero code and zero wiring.

Using PIXEL, the user simply needs to copy their animations or images to their Android device and then run one of PIXEL's apps.

How to add Still Images

Still images on PIXEL are really easy. Using your favorite editor, save your image in 32x32 resolution using the .PNG file format. If your image is not 32x32, the PIXEL Art app will scale it for you. Just keep in mind high resolution images will not display well on a 32x32 LED display. You'll select the desired image from your Android phone or tablet and then can turn the device off, the image will remain on PIXEL as long as it has power so your phone or tablet isn't tied up. Here's a few samples and the associated source .PNG file.

Adding Your Own Art Work


Will this work for an iPhone?
I'd like to see some 8 bit games on this thing
hey Alinke. <br>Very nice project. <br>The few links in these sentences don't work : the IOIO developer's forum contains the information you'll need to get started. PIXEL's firmware source code is here and the IOIO pins used by PIXEL are listed here. <br>Where could I find the information? : pixel's firmwareans ioio pins? <br>tks in advance <br>Pierre
Hey Pierre, sorry about that, had some broken links which have now been corrected. All info you need is on the PIXEL developer's page at http://ledpixelart.com/for-developers-2/. The IOIO pins used by PIXEL are here https://github.com/alinke/ioio/blob/rgb-led/README.TXT . On the bottom of the developer's page, you'll find the info on the firmware. You'll only need to go to the firmware level though if you're trying to do something PIXEL doesn't support today. If you let me know what you have in mind, I can better advise if a firmware mod is needed or if you can stay at the Java level for an Android or PC (Windows) app which would be much easier.
This is really cool! Congratulations on winning in the instructables contest!
This would be awesome for minecraft users as well!
oh yeah, that is an awesome idea! I sent a note to the Minecraft guys to see if they would allow an app for PIXEL with Minecraft pixel art. Don't know if I'll get a response but doesn't hurt to ask. thanks for the suggestion
the minecraft guys actually responded back, they weren't interested in taking it on at this time, oh well, it was worth a shot. thx for the suggestion
This looks like a lot of fun to play around with :) You should enter this into the <a href="https://www.instructables.com/contest/holidaygifts2012">Holiday Gifts Contest</a>!
When i open rgbmatrix.brd or rgbmatrix.sch Eagle says: <br>Error: <br>Fehler: <br>Row 5, column 6: This is no EAGLE file. <br>Zeile 5, Spalte 6: Dies ist keine EAGLE-Datei. <br> <br>Any idea?? <br> <br>Joe <br>
oops, had the wrong link, go here https://github.com/alinke/PixelFirmware , then click the zip button, you'll find the eagle files in the hardware sub-directory. I just tested them which worked fine, I have Eagle 6.2
Reminds me of a light bright
Very good, I like it, a very creative products <br>
I WANT ONE!!!!!!! <br>
awesome from start to finish! thank you for sharing!!

About This Instructable




Bio: Al is a wearable tech entrepreneur and creator of a line of smart phone controlled LED handbags http://catclutch.com With 22 years of experience ... More »
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