Colorduino Scrolling Text: Updated!


Introduction: Colorduino Scrolling Text: Updated!

In this instructable you're going to learn how to do scrolling text on a RGB LED Matrix using the colorduino board from iTead studios. The colorduino is basically a RGB LED Matrix driver that takes a lot of the work out of driving LED Matrixes. In a combination with different libraries it is really easy to create cool effects and graphics with it. Its an inexpensive project and fun to play around with :).

Step 1: Parts

This project does not require many external components.

Parts List

 RGB LED Matrix
    - (this is the cheapest and the one I use)  Ebay           
    - (Available from colorduino site) iTead

    - iTead 

FTDI or Arduino
for programming

    - Sparkfun

Jumper Wires 
Male to Male  

    - Australian Robotics

The arduino IDE installed and basic knowledge of uploading sketches.

Step 2: Wiring the Colorduino

The next step is to upload the attached code to the colorduino. To do this you can either use an FTDI adapter or another arduino. Since my FTDI adapter was broken i used my arduino to upload the code. This is good if you want put an Atmega328 chip into a breadboard and be able to program it. This method only works if you have an arduino with a replaceable chip.

1. First step to using the arduino as an FTDI programmer is to take out the Atmega328 Chip
2. Connect the wires as told in the Pin Connections table below
3. Change the board type in the Arduino IDE to: Arduino Duemilanove
4. Change to appropriate serial port

Pin Connections

Colorduino || Arduino 
DTR         ->  Reset
GND        ->  GND
TXD         ->   Pin 1
RXD        ->   Pin 0
VDD        ->   +5v


Step 3: Programming the Colorduino


In order to achieve scrolling text, two libraries are required. The Scroll library created for this instructable, as well as a modified version of the Colorduino Library by frederickk

Colorduino Library:

Scroll Library:


To install the libraries, download the zip of the repo by hovering over the 'Clone/Download' and choosing 'Download Zip'. Then extract the zip in your Arduino's library folder (Documents/Arduino/libraries on Windows). Restart Arduino, and there should be two examples for the Scroll Library.

Step 4: Plugging in the Matrix

To connect the matrix to the colorduino, align pin 1 of the matrix to pin 1 on the colorduino. After plugging it you should see the message scrolling across the display!

Step 5: Demonstration and Final Thoughts

This code is just the start of the possibilities that the colorduino has to offer. You could make interactive displays, display graphics and pictures as well as making signs. Thanks for looking at my tutorial and I hope this has helped you in some way.



    • Clocks Contest

      Clocks Contest
    • Oil Contest

      Oil Contest
    • Water Contest

      Water Contest

    34 Discussions

    I recorded the "Standalone Scroll" sketch on a Colorduino normally but it shows nothing. Arduino 1.8.5

    Hello PoisonMondo!
    How to change the font type used in Matrix?

    1 reply

    I have since recreated most of the original functionality of this library. This is now in the master branch of the github repo. Currently it only supports one display, but no longer requires Colorduino_GFX or Adafruit_GFX libraries.

    hello, I downloaded & ScrollTextV2.txt, copy libraries to my libraries folder, copy paste ScrollTextv2 to a new sketch. load to board.

    I have a text scrolling but is tooooo slooooow and characters are flickering, it takes over a minute to display first "H"

    may I do something to correct this (this happend with scroll speed t=200, changing it to smaller values doesn't affect this behavior)


    3 replies

    Are you using the Arduino IDE 1.0, how did I tell Tachyon?

    Hi, gusantor! Solved your problem? I'm going through the same problem; any tips? Thank you

    I would sure like to see concise instructions on how to use 2 or 3 displays connected together. Do you program all three with the same code? Do you need different code on each?

    4 replies

    Hi, did you find out yet? If no...
    First, install all libraries correctly; Use
    the Arduino IDE 1.0

    Write the "ScrollTextv2.txtScrollTextv2.txt"
    sketch on the first Colorduino by typing 1 in the line "int
    displaynumber = 1;" for the first Colorduino. Then, write the same sketch in the second Colorduino, writing 2 in the line "int displaynumber = 1;" and so on successively if you use more Colorduino. After, connect the 2 or 3 Colorduino together and feed the Colorduino's right hand.

    I have not updated the code in quite some time, show me the errors and I can probably fix it.

    Hi PoisonMondo!
    I did exactly as you describe in your post but, simply, my array does not light up; I
    am using version 1.6.5 of arduino and with other sketches is working,
    for example, this one:
    (2016 - 1 - 6: A working Colorduino scrolling and graphics library)
    Thanks in advance for your help.

    There is an error in one of the dependant libraries "Colorduino GFX". To compile this code, you will need to use Arduino 1.0.5 until Colorduino GFX is updated.

    gusantorjmqntmReply5 months ago
    Hello, I think it happened to me
    sorry for not posting this before. I found out that using arduino ide 1.6.5, gives bad result, as stated below
    just using arduino ide 1.0.5, alows me to run this GREAT CODE !! THANKS ! :)

    As gusantor mentioned, it doesn't work with current versions of Arduino IDE. Can we do something to make this work with current versions of IDE? Or is there a better code available to make this work?

    2 replies

    Hi LakshmananC
    I was testing with IDE 1.0.5-r2 and it says: Sketch too big; see for tips on reducing it;
    Would you have any tips? Thank you

    I haven't personally touched the project in a while or looked for alternatives. I will endeavour to update the code in the next week or so. Keep checking the github.


    I managed to remove my mega chip from my UNO board so it could be used as a ftdi programmer, however i keep on getting the error below and haven’t found a fix when uploading a example sketch to the colourduino, help would be appreciated.

    many thanks.

    Sketch uses 7,174 bytes (23%) of program storage space. Maximum is 30,720 bytes.
    Global variables use 95 bytes (4%) of dynamic memory, leaving 1,953 bytes for local variables. Maximum is 2,048 bytes.

    avrdude: stk500_paged_write(): (a) protocol error, expect=0x14, resp=0xd4
    avrdude: stk500_recv(): programmer is not responding
    avrdude: stk500_recv(): programmer is not responding
    avr_read(): error reading address 0x0000
    read operation not supported for memory “flash”
    avrdude: failed to read all of flash memory, rc=-2
    avrdude: stk500_recv(): programmer is not responding
    the selected serial port avrdude: stk500_recv(): programmer is not responding
    does not exist or your board is not connected

    1 reply

    I've tested this code with 2 colorduino's to form a 16x8 display. All you need to do is increment the display number value for each colorduino.

    But does the library handle spanning the displays automatically or does this need to be handled by the user's code?

    IE if I want to scan "some example text" across three displays, do I just put a "3" into the displays field and it all starts scrolling at display one and goes across to two and off the edge of three?