HowTo: pxlBlck – Build your own pxlBlck_8x8

The pxlBlck_8x8 was one of the first members of the pxlBlck family. Thanks to the few parts and the prefabricated WS2812 8×8 LED matrix, it is set up fairly quickly and thanks to the adapter board, it offers some expansion options that are not visible at first glance.

With the help of the installed pxlBlck plug-in for ESPEasy, animations and icons can be displayed on the connected LED matrix. Different effects can be configured for both.

Various clock faces and screensavers are also available.

Everything you need for building your own pxlBlck_8x8 is described in the following article.


Safety instructions

I know the following hints are always a bit annoying and seem unnecessary. But unfortunately, many people who knew it "better" from carelessness lost their eyes, fingers or other things or hurt themselves. In comparison, a loss of data is almost not worth mentioning, but even these can be really annoying. Therefore, please take five minutes to read the safety instructions. Even the coolest project is worth no injury or other annoyance. https://www.nerdiy.de/en/sicherheitshinweise/

Affiliate links / advertising links

The links to online shops listed here are so-called affiliate links. If you click on such an affiliate link and shop via this link, Nerdiy.de receives a commission from the online shop or provider concerned. The price doesn't change for you. If you do your purchases via these links, you will support Nerdiy.de in being able to offer further useful projects in the future. 🙂


Requirements

For the assembly you have to master soldering tasks. The following articles provide tips on how to do this.

Required tools:

Required material:

In the following list you will find all the parts you need for assembly.


Overview

Here you can see a small overview of how the display of animations and the time on the pxlBlk_8x8 can look like.


Collect the parts you need

So that you can start building your pxlBlck_8x8, you should first collect all the parts you need.

To assemble the pxlBlck_8x8 you need the following parts.

  • 1x WS2812 8×8 LED matrix including pin header
  • 1x satined acrylic sheet 66x66x3mm
  • 1x Wemos D1 Mini including pin header
  • Adapter board
  • 3D printed light grid
  • 3D printed frame

Further overview of the required parts.

Adapter boards for the pxlBlck_8x8

v1.4

Various breakout boards can be found on the current version (v1.4). The pxlBlck_8x8 can easily be equipped with additional functions.

For example, it is possible to connect capacitive buttons / electrodes and use them to trigger actions on the pxlBlck or in the SmartHome. With the right extension, the pxlBlck_8x8 can also be used as a doorbell sensor, which notifies you when the doorbell is pressed via a loudspeaker and also via MQTT.

Ultimately, this board also makes installation much easier.

I have uploaded and summarized the board data under the following link. You can also have the boards manufactured there. New board versions will also be listed here.

You can find the STL files for printing on your 3D printer in the repository for the pxlBlck_8x8 under the following link.


Solder the Wemos D1 Mini / ESP8266 to the board

To make installation easier, you should first solder the ESp8266 installed on the Wemos D1 Mini to the adapter board

Insert the first pin header to connect the Wemos D1 Mini into the board as shown and solder only one pin to the board.

Now check that the pin header is correctly aligned. It should …

… be aligned straight and at right angles on the board.

If not, you can heat up the solder of the soldered pin again and correct the alignment of the pin header.

As soon as the pin header is correctly aligned, you can also solder the remaining solder points on the pin header.

As soon as the first pin header is soldered, the part of your adapter board should look like this.

Now solder the second pin header using the same principle.

If you have soldered both pin headers, your adapter board should look like this.

Another view of the soldered pin header on the underside of the adapter board.

After you have soldered the pin headers to the adapter board, it is now time to solder the Wemos D1 Mini to the pin headers.

To do this, place it on the pin headers as shown.

Make sure that the Wemos D1 Mini is not pushed onto the pin headers as far as it will go. It should sit on the pin headers as shown.

So that the Wemos D1 Mini no longer slips further onto the pins, you can already solder one of the contacts with a pin.

Then check again that the Wemos D1 Mini is straight and parallel to the adapter board on the pin headers.

As soon as it is in position you can solder the remaining contacts to the pins of the pin header.

The following contacts are important for the basic functionality of the pxlBlck_8x8 and should be soldered:

  • A0
  • 3V3
  • 5V
  • G
  • D4


Prepare the LED panel

So that the LED panel can be connected to the adapter board, this must first be soldered to a pin header.

For this you need the WS2812 8×8 LED matrix and the associated three-pin pin header.

Plug the pin header …

… on the page with the “DIN” contact …

… in the circuit board of the 8×8 LED matrix.

Then solder the pin header on the front.

View of the WS2812 LED matrix with the pin header soldered (on the back).


Solder the LED panel to the circuit board

Now you can solder the prepared parts together.

For this you need the prepared adapter board with the Wemos D1 Mini installed on it and the prepared WS2812 8×8 LED matrix.

Now you can plug the adapter board onto the pin header of the WS2812 8×8 LED matrix as shown.

Now align the LED matrix and the adapter board parallel to each other and then solder the pin header to the adapter board.

At this point it is also important that you close the solder jumper marked with “SJ1” with some solder. This solder jumper connects the data line between the Wemos D1 Mini and the LED matrix.

Another view of the unit consisting of adapter board and WS2812 8×8 LED matrix.


Insert the prepared circuit board into the housing

After you have prepared the “electronic part”, the next step is the “mechanical part”: The assembly into the 3D printed housing.

For this you need the following parts.

  • 3D printed frame
  • 3D printed light grid
  • Acrylic glass plate 66x66x3mm satined
  • The prepared unit consisting of Wemos D1 Mini, adapter board and WS2812 LED matrix

First insert the acrylic sheet into the 3D printed frame as shown.

The light grid is now pushed into the frame in a similar way to the acrylic sheet.

Pay attention to the correct orientation. There are cutouts in the bars of the light grid, which leave space for the capacitors on the WS2812 8×8 LED matrix.

View of the inserted light grid.

Now you can put the prepared unit consisting of adapter board, Wemos D1 Mini and WS2812 8×8 LED matrix as shown …

… into the frame of the housing.

So that the inserted parts stay in place, you should now add a drop of hot glue …

… in each corner of the pxlBlck_8x8.

So the inserted parts should …

… no longer fall out.

View of the inserted and glued parts.

And that’s it with the construction of your pxlBlck_8x8.


Programming firmware

After setting up the pxlBlck_8x8, you now have to install ESPEasy including the pxlBlck plug-in on the ESP8266. How you can proceed is described in the following article.


Configure pxlBlck plugin

After installing the firmware you have to configure the plugin correctly. You can also find information on this in the article pxlBlck – Install and configure the pxlBlck plugin.

As an additional orientation, you can also use the settings from the screenshot shown here.


pxlBlck-Usecases

Under the tag “pxlBlckUsecase” articles are listed in which you can find usage examples. It also explains how you have to configure your pxlBlck for this.


Animations, icons and commands

You can find more information on the display of animations, icons and the possible commands with which you can configure your pxlBlck in the following articles.


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. 🙂

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

13 comments

  1. Moin

    Cooles Projekt, aber wie schaffe ich es das abwechselt z.B Random Pixel und Running Time gezeigt wird ?

    1. Moin Daniel,
      unter Welcher Bedingung soll denn der Random Pixel Screensaver angezeigt werden und wann die Running Time?
      Wenn du einen Auslöser hast kannst du das zum Beispiel mithilfe der Rules in ESPEasy konfigurieren.
      Beste Grüße
      Fab

      1. Moin Fab,

        ich wollte das zeitlich triggern, alle 2 min soll der Running Time durchlaufen, ansonsten halt Random Pixel Screensaver

        Gruß Daniel

  2. Hi Fab,

    Zeitlich abwechselt

    Hatte mir das so vorgestellt, das z.B eine Animation wie z.b der Random Pixel Screensaver, ggf. andere Animationen durchlaufen und immer zwischen durch die Zeit eingeblendet wird.
    z.b alle 2 Min soll die Zeit eingeblendet werden

    Gruß Daniel

  3. Also ich habe es schon erfolgreich mit einem Wemos D1 Mini hinbekommen. Nun wollte ich meinen ESP32 damit einsetzen. Das Flashen klappt wohl, aber ich finde den danach nicht als AP und kann das WLAN nicht setzen. Weiter kommen ich dann nicht. Ich hatte die fertigen BINs genutzt die hier verlinkt sind. Wie muss ich denn das ESPTOOL.PY aufrufen mit einem ESP32 von AZ-Delivery / WROOM32? Ich vermute es liegt am Chip …. LG Alex

    1. Hey Alexander,
      was den ESP32 angeht bin ich auch noch etwas “neu” dabei. Ich würde dir (aktuell noch) empfehlen den Code via Arduino IDE auf den ESp32 zu flashen. Die Binaries kopiere ich aktuell noch manuell in das Repository. Das heißt sie werden noch nicht automatisch bei einem Update des Codes erstellt und sind deswegen nicht immer auf dem neusten Stand. Mit dem Weg der Programmierung über die Arduino IDE habe ich aktuell ein funktionierendes Setup hier stehen. habe die WiFi-Zugangsdaten dabei aber über die serielle Schnittstelle konfiguriert. Wie das geht ist auch in dem Artikel https://nerdiy.de/howto-espeasy-firmware-flashen/ erklärt. 🙂
      Ich würde dann später auch noch einen Artikel zum flashen eines ESP32 erstellen.
      Beste Grüße
      Fab

  4. Gibt es noch eine Alternative, Platinen zu bestellen?
    Die Gerber Daten kann man nicht downloaden.

    Gibt es den Schaltplan einzusehen?
    Ach, ich habe da schon wieder so viele Fragen…..

    1. Hey Jens,
      jain, ich arbeite gerade an einer neuen Version der Platine, welche ich dann auch hier zum bestellen anbieten will. Den Schaltplan werde ich dann auch zur Verfügung stellen. 🙂
      Immer her mit den Fragen! 😀
      Beste Grüße
      Fabian

  5. Hey,

    ich kann die stl files von deinem Github nicht in Cura laden, ich bekomme die Fehlermeldung “… kann nicht geöffnet werden… Datei könnte Fehlerhaft oder unzugänglich sein.” was mache ich falsch?

    Grüße Basti

    1. Hey Sebastian,
      das liegt leider daran, dass GitHub eine HTML-Seite zur Vorschau der STL Datei ausliefert, wenn man versucht die STL Datei einzeln herunterzuladen. Bitte lade das ganze Repository herunter, dann sollte es mit dem Import der Datei funktionieren. 🙂 Ansonsten gib gerne nochmal bescheid.
      Beste Grüße
      Fabian

        1. Super, freut mich. 🙂
          Bezüglich des pxlBlck_32x8: Ich arbeite gerade noch an der Platine dafür, da ich die Stromverteilung etwas besser absichern und auch ein paar weiter Funktionen integrieren will. Infos dazu habe ich auch hier gepostet: https://www.instagram.com/p/CMZ5xCiK30I/
          Ich hoffe, dass ich mit der nächsten Revision alles fertig habe. Dann muss ich nur noch den Aufbauartikel erstellen. 🙂
          Beste Grüße
          Fabian

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