Standalone Matrix controller (APA102 to HUB75 Panel Adapter)

Hi gang,

I’ve been exploring controller options and I can’t seem to find what I’m looking for. I want to offload the work of driving my 128x64 matrix from the main cpu/mcu by dumping frame buffers via UART or SPI to a controller and let that controller refresh the matrix. I’ve seen it done with FPGA’s a few times (such a https://www.open-electronics.org/a-fpga-controlled-rgb-led-matrix-for-incredible-effects-the-hardware/). SmartMatrix and shields look like a good starting point but I want it much cheaper for mass production.

Has anyone already done this?

What would be the most effective MCU for hosting this setup? Teensy (a bit expensive), esp32 (can it handle the work?)

Thanks,
A.

You have excellent timing, I’m working on this now and finalizing the hardware design for V1. It’s based on the ESP32 single core chip, receiving data via APA102 formatted SPI. It will support up to 128x64. Right now I get up to about 30fps update rate (matrix refresh is decoupled from update rate and is at a minimum 120fps to reduce flicker) receiving 64x64 frames from a Teensy 4.0. I haven’t optimized the updates yet so there’s a lot of room for improvement. I’ll post more to this forum after I finalize the hardware. I’m designing it as a product to be sold, but it will be open source hardware.

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I was thinking the same - an open source product on crowdsupply.com. We (Mystic Pants) need it for a product we are working on. If it saves me allocating the resources to build it in-house I would be happy to support it commercially.

A public update on this, as @blindman2k and I have been communicating directly: I finished a prototype THT and ESP32 dev board based hardware design for the controller and placed an order with OSH Park. I hope to get boards in a couples weeks and verify the circuit is working before starting on the actual SMT production version.

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