Introduction: Pixel Art LED Frame With Bluetooth App Control

About: Al is a wearable tech entrepreneur and creator of a line of smart phone controlled LED handbags With 22 years of experience in the IT industry, Al is currently Senior Director of Inform…


32x16 LED Matrix- Adafruit $24.99

PIXEL Maker's Kit- Seeedstudio $59 (Note I am the creator of the PIXEL Maker's Kit)

iOS Bluetooth app or Android Bluetooth App - Free

1/8" acrylic material for laser cutting 12x20 - $15

3/16" acrylic material for laser cutting 12x20 - $20

5V, 2A Switching Power Supply - Adafruit $7.95

(4) Aluminum Female Threaded Hex Standoff, 6mm Hex, 13mm Long, M3 x 0.50 mm Thread - McMaster Carr $2.08

(10) Black-Oxide Alloy Steel Socket Head Screw, M3 x 0.5 mm Thread, 8 mm Long - McMaster-Carr $6.78 (box of 100)

(4) Black-Oxide Alloy Steel Socket Head Screw, M3 x 0.5 mm Thread, 25 mm Long - McMaster-Carr McMaster-Carr $12.28 (box of 100)

Optional Components if using battery power

Rechargeable 5V Lipo USB Boost @ 1A - Adafruit $19.99

2500 mAH LiPO battery - Adafruit $14.99

DC Barrel Jack - Adafruit .$.95

(8) plastic screw and nuts for mounting PCBs

Hook up wire

SD card to microSD card adapter

Optional if using button

10K resistor

Push Button

Grove connector

You can build this project with or without battery power. The project is easiest without battery power and will require no soldering but if you need battery power, then you'll need to be able to solder for this project too.

Step 1: Laser Cutting the Frame Enclosure

Using the two laser cut files, cut one job on 1/8" thick acrylic using the file "one-eighth thick acrylic.svg" and cut the second job on 3/16" thick acrylic using the file "three-sixteenth thick acrylic.svg"

IMPORTANT: LED matrix panels will have different mounting holes depending on the manufacturer or run, there is unfortunately no mounting hole standard. The mounting hole layout in these files are based on an April 2018 order from Adafruit. However, I have seen different layouts even from Adafruit. So be sure and check the mounting holes layout of your 32x16 matrix against the design files and modify if needed before laser cutting.

Step 2: Making the Back Case

Use acrylic cement to assemble the back case. Acrylic cement will melt the acrylic together forming a very strong bond. Use protective eyewear when using the acrylic cement.

If you want the tripod mount, use a 1/4" - 20 tap.

Step 3: Flash the PIXEL Board Firmware

By default, your PIXEL Maker’s Kit is installed with an Android only firmware. For this project, you'll want the PIXEL firmware that is low power and supports both iOS and Android.

Follow these instructions to switch firmwares:

Step 1: Remove the microSD card from your PIXEL board. Using an SD card adapter, plug the card into your computer.

Step 2: Delete any existing files on the microSD card. Unzip and copy these files to the microSD card.

Step 3: Insert microSD card back into your PIXEL board and power cycle the PIXEL board. Your firmware has now been changed.

Note: If you are using Android only and not running on battery power, then you may leave the firmware as is and skip this step.

Step 4: Wiring the Components (Skip This Step If Not Using Battery Power)

Wire up the components according to the diagram.

Step 5: Optional - Wiring the Push Button

If desired, wire a momentary push button with a pull up 10K resistor to the middle Grove port on the PIXEL board. This will allow you to change LED designs by pushing the button. Don't worry if you don't have this button as you may also change designs using the free apps.

Step 6: Mounting

Now the easy part, mount the components in this order:

Step 1: Clip off the two nubs on the back of the LED matrix (see picture)

Step 2: Mount the Adafruit PowerBoost (skip is not using battery power)

Step 3: Mount the PIXEL board

Step 4: Mount the LED Matrix. Use only 2 middle screws to mount the LED matrix

Step 5: Attach the battery with velcro tape

Step 6: Secure the back case with the 4 M3 x 25 mm screws.

Step 7. Attach the 4 hex screws

Step 8: Attach the front LED panel cover

Step 7: Explore the Over 90 Free LED Designs Included With the Free Apps

Step 8: Create Your Own LED Designs From Animated GIFs

Easily create your own LED designs by creating 32x16 resolution animated GIFs. The video will show you how to import your GIF into the free apps.

Step 9: Create Your Own LED Design From the Pixel Paint App

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