The RGB Matrix Backpack is a small board that connects to the back of the Adafruit 16×32 RGB LED Matrix Panel and is a very convenient way to control this awesome panel. The board is simply a small Arduino. You can easily program the board using the Arduino IDE. As you can see from the video below, it’s possible to create great color animations, completely in Arduino programming!
To program the board, you’ll need an FTDI cable or FTDI friend. Or you can program the ATMega328 chip using your Arduino board and move the chip to the RGB Matrix Backpack for testing.
The board snaps onto the back of the panel and provides power to the panel through the terminal block connections. The board should be powered by a 5V regulated power adapter that can deliver up to 2A.
A 8×2 female header on the back of the board allows this backpack board to simply snap onto the back of the matrix panel.
The 6-pin programming header makes it easy to program the board using the Arduino IDE and a cable or adapter like an FTDI cable or FTDI friend
2.1mm power jack for a regulated 5V power supply. The 5V supply should be able to deliver 2A of current to meet the demands of the matrix panel. We strongly recommend this 5V regulated power supply for use with the matrix panel. The terminal block is used to provide power to the RGB matrix panel.
A small tactile button can be used as an input to your Arduino program. It is connected to Arduino pin 10. To use the button, the setup() function in your program should call pinMode(10, INPUT); digitalWrite(10, HIGH);. The button is read by calling digitalRead(10).
To program the backpack board, you use it just like an Arduino. The board type to select in the Arduino IDE is “Aruino Uno”. You need to connect an FTDI cable or FTDI friend.
Adafruit provides Arduino libraries for controlling the RGB Matrix Panel. You can download the libraries and learn how to use them on our matrix tutorial page. You don’t have to worry about any of the complex wiring — just skip down to the sections “Test example code” and “Library”.
The ATmega328 chip comes preloaded with the animation shown in the video above. To change the demo program download the sketch here. Make sure you’ve installed the Adafruit libraries correctly. Compile the sketch and upload it to your board.
Adafruit has had paid day off for voting for our team for years, if you need help getting that going for your organization, let us know – we can share how and why we did this as well as the good results. Here are some resources for voting by mail, voting in person, and some NY resources for our NY based teams as well. If there are additional resources to add, please let us know – adafruit.com/vote
Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.