PIXO Pixel – Open Source LED Display for Makers

Sean Hodgins is developing an open source LED display system for the internet of things.

Sean Hodgins is an inventor and maker interested in purposing current technologies in new and different ways. He’s currently running a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter for the PIXO Pixel, an open source RGB display that controls 256 LEDs.

The project uses small two millimeter square APA102-2020 LEDs in a 16 x 16 array. The system is controlled by an ESP32 board, with WiFi and Bluetooth Low Energy functions. Hodgins recommends that Arduino IDE or MicroPython be used to program the system. The project is committed to the open source philosophy and a prototype board is added to the back of the unit for users to connect additional components – accelerometers, thermal sensors, light sensors and potentiometers are suggested add-ons on the campaign page.

PIXO Pixel is a great example of a maker developing open source projects as tools and then releasing them out in the wild to see what the world might do with them. This project has the added element of being a pixel display unit on its own without the end user adding any functions. The campaign page and video suggest that users might use the display for social media notifications, interaction with video games, an alarm clock, cryptocurrency market notification, or old school pong gaming. The page stresses that the system comes with one program already written and installed but it’s expected that users will have programming experience to bring new roles to the system. This looks like a project just outside the reaches of my programming skills but I can easily see functions added to display football scores in the fall and weather conditions in the ever-snowy winter.

A separate kit can be sent to backers with the circuit board, ESP32 module, and hardware pieces instead of a fully assembled unit. This project is part of Kickstarter’s MAKE 100 initiative – Hodgins is building 100 assembled systems for the crowdfunding campaign. The successful campaign ends on February 19, and units are expected to ship in May 2018.