HowTo: pxlBlck – Build your own pxlBlck_Pot

The idea for the pxlBlck_Pot is heavily inspired by a design that Lukas (@i_am_lukas) had created. He agreed that I can use his basic design. Thanks again for that. 🙂

The pxlBlck_Pot is basically a 3D printed flower planter. A 32×8 WS2812 LED matrix can be inserted into this. The functionality of the pxlBlck can thus be invisibly integrated into a flower pot.

The LED matrix cannot be seen when it is not switched on. The display is only visible on the outside when the LEDs are activated.

How you can build your own pxlBlck_Pot is described in the following article.

Your pxlBlck_Pot could look like this. 🙂

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/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 to assemble.


Overview

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


Collect the parts you need

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

To build the pxlBlck_Pot you need the following components.

  • 3D printed base
  • 3D printed lid
  • 4x threaded M3 insert
  • 4x M3x6 countersunk head screw
  • 6×32 LED panel on flexible PCB
  • ESP8266
  • 5x approx. 15cm long cables
  • Paper strips approx. 80x300mm

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


Prepare the LED panel

Before you can start installing the LED panel, you should prepare it a little.

For this you need five wires of approx. 15cm length and the LED panel.

Two lines can be of the same color, as these are used to supply the panel with energy.

First remove the connection cables that have already been soldered on.

Then you can solder the middle connection cable back on. However, you turn it beforehand so that the line leads upwards directly from the LED panel.

Close-up of the soldered supply cable in the middle of the LED panel.

You can now strip the prepared wire pieces and tin them with some solder. This makes it easier to solder them to the LED panel later.

Now you can solder the lines to the left side of the LED panel. Here you will find three contacts. In addition to the 5V and GND input, there is also the DIN connection, which will later be used to send the data to the LED panel.

Close-up view of the soldered lines.

Left: DIN connection

Middle: GND

Right: 5V

Now repeat this for the right side of the LED panel with the other pieces of wire. Of course, you only connect the lines for GND and 5V here. It is very helpful if you keep the assignment of the color to the respective connection identical to the connection on the left side of the LED panel.

Your LED panel should look like this when soldered.


Insert the LED panel into the housing

Now it’s time to install the prepared LED panel in the housing.

For this you need the following parts.

  • the 3d printed housing of the pxlBlck_Pot
  • the prepared LED panel
  • a strip of paper measuring 300x80mm

Now push the paper strip approx. One cm into the opening provided in the base as shown.

Another view of the inserted paper strip.

Now you can slide the LED panel into the base as shown.

The strip of paper shown here was unfortunately a bit too short. Therefore it does not cover the entire width of the LED matrix. Of course, you are welcome to use a paper strip that extends across the entire width.

Another view of the partially inserted LED panel.

Another view of the partially inserted LED panel.

Another view of the partially inserted LED panel.

Now you can slowly push the paper strip and the LED panel completely into the base.

Another view of the inserted LED panel.

The LED panel must be pushed into the base “up to the stop”.

Tweezers or another thin tool can be very helpful.

Another view.

View of the LED panel pushed in as far as it will go.

View of the LED panel pushed in until it stops


Prepare connecting lines

So that the connection of the lines to the ESP8266 is easier later, it is recommended to combine the individual supply lines.

To do this, you should now connect the connection lines for the 5V connection (here the red and orange lines) and …

…solder them.

Another view of the combined 5V connection.

You now repeat the same for the lines of the GND connection.

Solder these together again after you have put them together.

Another view of the combined supply lines.

Now to tidy up the individual lines …

…you can put them together with cable ties.


Connect the ESP8266

The ESP8266 is the microcontroller that will later control the LED matrix. You must now connect this to the prepared lines.

For this you need the ESP8266 and the prepared base of the pxlBlck_Pot including the inserted LED panel.

Now put some hot glue in the recess on the bottom of the case …

… and put the ESP8266 into it.

The ESP8266 should sit securely in it and not be able to fall out.

Now it’s time to prepare for connecting the lines.

To do this, first tin-plate the following contacts with some solder.

  • D6
  • G = GND
  • 5V

Close-up view of the prepared contacts.

Now you can connect the lines to the ESP8266 as shown. The lines are connected as follows:

LED PanelESP8266
GGND
5V5V
DIND6

Close-up view of the soldered lines.

Another view of the soldered lines.


Prepare to mount the cover

You can now mount a cover so that the electronics installed on the underside are somewhat protected.

To do this, you first have to insert the thread inserts with which the cover is later screwed to the base. For this you need four thread inserts for M3 screws.

To do this, insert the threaded inserts into the base with a soldering iron, as shown.

Repeat for the remaining three holes in the base.

View of the inserted thread insert.

View of the inserted thread insert.

View of the inserted thread insert.

View of the inserted thread insert.


Connect the USB cable and mount the cover

So that the ESP8266 and the connected LED panel can be supplied with energy, a USB cable must now be connected. After that the cover should be mounted on the underside.

For this you need the following parts.

  • the prepared base including built-in ESP8266 and LED panel
  • four M3x8 screws
  • a USB cable with a micro USB connector
  • the 3d printed lid

Now plug the USB cable into the ESP8266 as shown.

Then you can put the lid on as shown.

Make sure that the screws are congruent with the thread inserts below.

Then you can screw the lid to the base using the M3x8 screws.

Close up.

Your pxlBlck_Pot should then look like this when it is completely screwed.

Another view.

Another view.


Programming firmware

After setting up the pxlBlck_Pot 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.


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

6 comments

  1. Hi,

    leider kann ich die STL-Files nicht in meinen Slicer laden. Ich habe den von Prusa und Snapmaker getestet.
    Gibt es noch einen Trick?

    Viele Grüße
    Jens

    1. Hey Jens,
      ich habe es gerade nochmal mit den aus dem Repository heruntergeladenen Dateien probiert und kann sie ohne Fehler in meinen Slicer importieren.
      Ich nutze “Slic3r” als Slicer. Was funktioniert denn bei Dir nicht genau? Lädt es einfach nicht oder wird eine Fehlermeldung angezeigt?
      Beste Grüße
      Fab

  2. Hi,

    swe Slicer von Pruser basiert auch auf Slic3r. aber auch alle anderen Dateien von Dir funktionieren nicht. Vielleicht liegt es an meinem Rechner. Ich teste morgen mal einen anderen.

    Andere STL-Files aus anderen Projekten gehen aber komischerweise

    1. Guten Morgen Jens,
      ich habe mir gerade mal beide Slicer heruntergeladen und installiert. In beiden Slicer konnte ich die STL-Dateien importieren und anzeigen.
      Welche Fehlermeldung bzw. abnormales Verhalten bekommst du denn beim importieren der Dateien? 🙂
      Beste Grüße
      Fab

  3. Hallo,

    ich habe jetzt mal eine andere Art des Downloads gewählt und dann geht es. Alles gut, vielen Dank für die Unterstützung.

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