Introduction: Foldable LED Display

This project is a foldable LED Display made for the 2015 WSU Hardware Hackathon. Which is a 24 hour event where you come up with and build a hardware project.

(NOTICE! This guide is not finished. Please do not actually ask Christian)

WSU Hardware Hackathon!

This guide will go over how to make our foldable display and a flat display.


  • 30 x 10 programmable LED display
  • Folds in two for easy storage and transport

Step 1: Gather Materials and Tools

Materials needed for both:

  1. At least 42"x15" of either particle board or 1/8" wooden board.
  2. 10 30 pixel neopixel strips.
  3. 40 3" zip ties.

Tools needed for both:

  1. Band saw or Jigsaw (or regular saw if you hate yourself)
  2. Drill press or Hand drill
  3. Sautering Iron

Materials needed for the foldable:

  1. Either handles (like from a briefcase) or enough wood to cut out appropriately sized handles.
  2. About 100" each of green, white, and red wire.

Step 2: Build Base Board

Foldable Board:

  1. Cut your wood board or particle board into two 15"x21" sheets.

Solid Board:

  1. Cut your wood board or particle board into one 15"x42" sheet.

Step 3: Build and Attach Hinge and Handles

Ask Christian.

Step 4: Prepare and Attach LED Strips

Foldable board:

  1. Split the LED strips in the middle
    1. Cut off the outer protective plastic in the middle
    2. De solder the middle solder connections to separate them
  2. Prepare proper wires
    1. 10 sets of 10" white, green, and red wire.
    2. Remember to strip the ends of the wire.
  3. Solder wires to each middle section of the strips.
  4. Zip tie the LED strips to your board with even spacing. (Our neopixels had 1.5" spacing)
    1. Make sure that the connectors on the LED strips alternate.

Solid board:

  1. Zip tie LED strips to your board with even spacing. (Our neopixels had 1.5" spacing)

Step 5: Connect Everything Together

(Just do the connecting thing until the things light up and cool and stuff!)


Step 6: Setup Software Environment: Materials


***You do not need to necessarily use a uC32 microchip development board.

  • USB A > mini B cable
  • chipKIT uC32 microchip development board (should already be booted!)
  • three jumper wires (preferably different colors to distinguish between ground, power, and data)
  • laptop or desktop
  • 5 V power supply


  1. Download chipKIT uC32 reference manual.
  2. Download MPIDE.
  3. Download PICxel library zip.

Step 7: Setting Up the Development Board

  1. With your USB A > mini B cable connected to the development board and your desktop or laptop (connect to any USB port), lights on your board should flash up. If not, the board is not working properly and you should check if the board is already booted.
  2. If your board lights up from the connection, get your jumper wires ready. Assuming that you have a white, blue, and red wire, you will connect them according to the connection spots at the end of the neopixel strip. The spot for the white cord is ground, the red cord is power, and the green cord is data. The white and red jumper wires are matched with the white and red cord. Meanwhile, the blue jumper wire is matched with the green cord.
  3. After matching up the cords and the jumper wires, the other end of the wires are inserted into slots of three pins on the board. The red wire is inserted into the 5V0 pin. The white wire is inserted into the GND pin. Finally, the blue wire is inserted into pin number 6. (These are just the pins that were chosen. If this does not work for you, try other pins.)
  4. (Soldering....power supply and connecting to plug)

Step 8: Downloading and Installing Software

  1. Google the uC32 reference manual and the first link should be a pdf for the reference manual. (You may need this for further information about the development board. The manual will not be used in this tutorial.)
  2. Download MPIDE from this link depending on your operating system of your computer:
  3. Download the PICxel library from this link. It is optional if you are able to write code in MPIDE. The library provides demo patterns for the LED strips.
  4. The MPIDE will be a zip file in your downloads file (wherever you set your downloads to reside in). You will need to extract it by right-clicking the zip file and click "extract here." (These options depends on your system and in my case, I had to choose "zip" then "extract here.")
  5. After extracting the zip file, you should be able to go into the extracted file and click on the application for MPIDE.
  6. For instructions of setting up the MPIDE, refer to
  7. To add the PICxel library into the MPIDE, you should find where MPIDE libraries are located. I found mine in Documents > mpide > libraries.
  8. In the libraries folder, the PICxel zip file should be extracted. The extracted folder should be renamed to PICxel. (I just moved the zip file back to my downloads folder once I extracted.) If your MPIDE software is open, you should close it to access your newly added library.
  9. Access the PICxel library in MPIDE from the tabs at the top. You can either go to file > Sketchbook > libraries > PICxel... OR file > examples > PICxel...
  10. The instructions for setting up the MPIDE should include instructions on how to upload a program to the board and should light up the LED strips. Try going to file > examples > basics > blinker to check if the board is working properly. If the LEDS on the board lights up after the upload, your board is working. If not, check your connections and check if your board is booted correctly.

Step 9: Enjoy

Program, look at, and generally enjoy your new neopixel display.

And remember to sleep. Unlike us.