LEDBox was my first project which was kindly featured in Makezine and on the Sparkfun Electronics website.
The box is programmed to show the time, outdoor temperature, and animated weather icons. These are interspersed with various 8 bit inspired animations, Tetris bricks, Pacman ghosts, random shapes and a cool math simluation called ‘Game Of Life’ which evolves some nice organic looking patterns (See the clip below).
The screen is built using 4 RGB panels from Sparkfun Electronics which give a 16 x 16 pixel resolution, that’s 768 LED’s in total! The matrix modules have ‘backpacks’, which take care of the complicated control circuitry and act as framebuffers, essentially showing whatever image is sent to them until it is refreshed with new data.
An Arduino takes care of controlling the matrix modules via the SPI protocol. The ATmega 328 I used had 32K RAM, which gives quite a bit of space to store various routines and low res graphics.
Finally an Ethernet shield from Adafruit Industries connects the box to the internet so it can grab weather data from an internet page. (I also had it grabbing my twitter feed but Twitter have since changed their authentication method which makes that harder to do.) A few pics of the build are below.
As this is an older project of mine I’m not going to post a detailed ‘how to’ for it, mainly as the LED panels have been updated by Sparkfun and now work slightly differently (plus my code is a real mess!) If you want to get started with something similar there is loads of demo code on the Arduino, Sparkfun and Adafruit sites to get you going.