The temperature in my office at work varies quite a bit depending on the time of day, season, and the whims of the other people I share the floor with. When I’m sitting at my desk shaking uncontrollably or sweating profusely it would be nice to know if it’s due to the temperature or just work related stress. A simple $5.00 thermometer would suffice, but where’s the fun in that? Making my own thermometer might cost ten times as much, but I might learn something in the process and it would be way cooler than any cheap store bought thing? I’d rather make something myself even if I have to pay a “maker’s premium.”
The matrices use a driver chip that does all the heavy lifting for you: They have a built in clock so they multiplex the display. They use constant-current drivers for ultra-bright, consistent color (the images above are photographed at the dimmest setting to avoid overloading our camera!), 1/16 step display dimming, all via a simple I2C interface. The backpacks come with address-selection jumpers so you can connect up to four mini 8×8’s or eight 7-segments (or a combination, such as four mini 8×8’s and four 7-segments, etc) on a single I2C bus.