HowTo: pxlBlck – Install and configure the pxlBlck plugin

The pxlBlck plugin for the ESPEasy framework is the “software counterpart” to the pxlBlck platforms. With the plugin you can easily control the built-in LED matrices and with the help of the other functions it is relatively easy to display your own animations and notifications on the LED matrix.


pxlBlck platform

Before you continue with the installation of the plugin, you should already have set up the hardware for your pxlBlck. The build instructions for the various pxlBlck platforms can be found under the following link


Installation of the plugin

As already mentioned, the pxlBlck plugin is a plugin for the ESPEasy framework. So you would first have to flash ESPEasy on your ESP8266 or ESP32. The PxlBlck plugin should of course already be included. In the following I will simply call the combination of EspEasy framework including pxlBlck plug-in “firmware”.

There are basically two ways to get the firmware onto your ESP8266 or ESP32. One is described in the article ESPEasy – Compiling firmware, flashing and configuring WLAN access data

The second possibility is that you flash pre-compiled “binaries” on the ESP8266 or ESP32. You can read how this works here: ESP8266 – Flash .bin files under Windows with the “Esptool”

You can find the latest binary in the next section.


Binaries/precompiled firmware

In the following list you can find the link to the current release. This contains the binaries that you can flash directly to your ESP8266 or ESP32.

Binary: https://github.com/Nerdiyde/pxlBlck/tree/main/plugin/bin

In the linked folder for the binaries you will find various files for the ESP8266 and ESP32. The options used are specified in the file name.

Changelog: You can find the current changelog in the Nerdiy-Git under the following link: https://github.com/Nerdiyde/pxlBlck/blob/main/CHANGELOG.md


Configure WiFi access data

After you have transferred the firmware to your ESP8266 or ESP32, you must first configure the WiFi access data for your WiFi. Because this is the only way your pxlBlck can receive and display event messages or the time.

How you can transfer the WiFi access data in ESPEasy (i.e. your programmed pxlBlck) is described in the article ESPEasy – Compiling firmware, flashing and configuring WLAN access data

Personally, I find it easiest to configure the access data via the serial interface. You can find information about this under the following link: https://nerdiy.de/howto-espeasy-firmware-flashen/#WLAN-Zugangsdaten_ueber_die_serielle_Schnittstelle_konfigurieren


Activate and configure the pxlBlck plugin

After you have transferred the WiFI access data to your pxlBlck, you first have to activate the pxlBlck and configure it correctly. The easiest way to do this is via the ESPEasy web menu.

To do this, enter the IP address of your pxlBlck in the address line of your browser. How you can find out the IP address of devices in your network is described in the article Show / find out the IP address of the devices in the network.

After you have entered the IP address in the address bar, you should land on the overview page shown.

There click on the button “Devices (red marked area).

All configured devices are listed in the overview that now appears. Since you (very likely) have not yet configured any devices, this list is of course empty.

To activate the pxlBlck plugin, click on the first “Edit” button (area marked in red).

You will now be redirected to the page shown.

Now select the following entry from the drop-down list

Display – pxlBlck


Configure the GPIO of the LED matrix

After you have activated the pxlBlck plugin, you will be redirected to the overview page of the plugin. A full description of all options can be found below. This section now continues with the configuration of the pxlBlck plug-in.

To do this, enter a name in the text field next to “Name”. This can be chosen freely. I just entered “Clock” here.

Then activate the checkbox in the “Enabled” section.

So that the plugin can also control the connected LED matrix, you now have to set the correct GPIO. This is specified in the instructions for your pxlBlck platform.


Define the pxlBlck platform

In addition to the correct GPIO, you now also have to set the correct PxlBlck platform. This is the only way for the pxlBlck plug-in to know how big the connected LED matrix is.

To do this, click on the drop-down list in the “Matrix type” area and select the appropriate entry for your pxlBlck platform.

For example, if you have set up a SlotClock or RingClock, select “RingClock (1×60)” here.

If you haven’t already done so, you should also activate the checkbox in the “Display enabled” section. The LED matrix is only output when this is activated.


Set clock face/screensaver

If desired, you can now also set a clock face or screensaver. Clock faces or screensavers are always displayed when no animation, icon or similar “event-related” is shown on the display of the pxlBlck.

You can find more information including examples for setting the clock faces and screensavers in the article

To do this, click on the drop-down list in the “Dial version” section and select the desired dial or screensaver.

The list displayed there depends on the “Matrix type” set. For the “Matrix type” “RingClock” you have the displayed options to choose from. For example, the representation “Ring” is suitable here. A detailed description of all representations can be found below in this article.


Adjust colors

If you have previously selected a clock face or screensaver in which colors can be configured, you now have the option of setting the colors according to your wishes. The adjustable colors and their names are always adapted to the set clock face / screensaver. So don’t be surprised if the color options differ depending on the dial / screensaver set.

Scroll to the bottom of the view in the pxlBlck plugin.

There you can define up to four colors.

You can do this with the help of the ColorPicker by clicking on the button (marked in red) for the respective color section. Then simply select your desired color and confirm your selection with a click on “OK”.

Alternatively, you can set the RGB value of the desired color directly.

To do this, you have to enter the desired value in the fields marked red, green and blue. The permitted range of values is 0-255.

In the example shown, the “RingClock” dial is selected and the hour hand is set to “red”, the minute hand to “blue” and the second hand to “green”. The hour markers glow white.


Description of the plugin options / web menu of the plugin

In the previous paragraphs you can find some information about the most important setting options of the pxlBlck plugin. A full description of all options can now be found in this section.

After you have configured your pxlBlck with your WiFi access data and it can be reached in the network, you can access the web menu via the pxlBlck’s IP address.

To do this, enter the IP address of your pxlBlck in the address line of your browser. How you can find out the IP address of devices in your network is described in the article Show / find out the IP address of the devices in the network.

You can reach the web menu by clicking on “Devices” and then in the “Device list” on the pxlBlck plugin you have activated.

Here you can see the possible options of the pxlBlck plugin in the web view.

The following paragraph contains a description of the individual functions.

Description of the options in the web menu

  • Name: Here you can configure the name of the device
  • Enabled: The plug-in is only activated if the checkmark is set here
  • GPIO / DigitalIn: Here you have to specify the GPIO that is connected to the LED matrix. You can find information about this in the build article for your pxlBlck platform.
  • Help: A click on it leads you to an overview page with all pxlBlck articles
  • Display Enabled: This option can be used to deactivate the display or hide the content. This option can be used, for example, to switch off the display at night or when nobody is at home. You can find information about this in the article pxlBlck – Switch off the display when you are absent
  • Matrix type: Here you can configure the dimensions of your LED matrix. In the example above, a matrix is ​​configured that is 32 LEDs wide and 8 LEDs high
  • Led type: With this you can configure the type of your LED. Most Neopixel or WS2812 LEDs have the following green, red, blue. So GRB.
  • Start positions: Here you can specify in which corner of your matrix the first LED is located. You can also find information about this here: https://learn.adafruit.com/adafruit-neopixel-uberguide/neomatrix-library
  • LED arrangement: This allows the arrangement of your LED matrix to be configured. You can also find information about this here: https://learn.adafruit.com/adafruit-neopixel-uberguide/neomatrix-library
  • Tile arrangement & Matrix tiles in X-direction & Matrix tiles in Y-direction: These functions are currently being tested. If in doubt, just leave it on “OneTileOnly”.
  • Matrix rotation: This allows the matrix to be rotated by 90 ° steps
  • Dial version: This option configures the dial or animation that is displayed during normal operation. More on this below.
  • Leading zeros enabled: With this function you can activate leading zeros. E.g. if acitvated the time “8:15” will be displayed as “08:15”
  • Display brightness: This sets the screen brightness of the display contents in 15 steps
  • Minimal brightness: With this option, a specific absolute value can be set for the lowest brightness. So you can set an absolute value for “extreme darkness” and avoid possible color distortions.
  • Hour, Minute & Background: Here you can set the color for the respective group. These groups change according to the set dial under “Dial version”. More information on this below.

Configuration of the pxlBlck using commands

In addition to being able to configure your pxlBlck using the options in the web menu, you can also configure the plugin using commands.

This has the advantage that you can also adjust settings via MQTT, HTTP call or using rules during operation.

You can find information on this in the article pxlBlck – Commands for configuring the pxlBlck


Show animations on the pxlBlck

With the help of the commands, various information can be displayed on your pxlBlck. How you can trigger and configure animations is described in the following article.


Icons auf dem pxlBlck anzeigen

In addition to animations, predefined icons can also be displayed on the pxlBlck. How to create icons, transfer them to the pxlBlck and display them is described in the following article.


I hope everything worked as described. If not or you have any other questions or suggestions, please let me know in the comments. Also, ideas for new projects are always welcome. 🙂

Fab

P.S. Many of these projects - especially the hardware projects - cost a lot of time and money. Of course I do this because I enjoy it, but if you appreciate it that I share these information with you, I would be happy about a small donation to the coffee box. 🙂

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4 comments

  1. Hallo,

    bin ich blind? ich habe soweit alles installiert, aber nun sagt mir das Plugin, dass ich einen NAT Server einstellen soll. Leider finde ich aber kein Feld, wo ich die Adresse einstellen kann.

    Hat jemand ein Tipp für mich?

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