pxlBlck is a system of hardware and software to build an information system for the SmartHome. Different software and hardware options are available. Thanks to the integration in an EspEasy plugin the pxlBlck's can be automated without external automation software. In combination with external automation software (e.g. NodeRed, MQTT server, etc...), it is also possible to display various notifications such as a doorbell, social media notifications (e.g. WhatsApp, Facebook, ...), call notifications on mobile devices and landlines, etc.
Each pxlBlck can be equipped with several sensors. Thus, it is also possible to measure different environmental data, forward this data via WLAN and/or react to this measurement data.
Each pxlBlck type shown is operated using the pxlBlck plugin for EspEasy. The used LED matrix or hardware can be set in the web overview of EspEasy.
History of origins
Originally the pxlBlck consisted of an 8×8 WS2812 aka Neopixel LED matrix (looks like a square/block of pixels. Hence the name :)) controlled by an ESP8266 and appropriate software.
The goal was to easily keep up to date with what was happening in my SmartHome. It kind of bothered me that I collect all kinds of data with my SmartHome, but rarely see this data.
For example, I was notified on my smartphone when the doorbell rang, but what if I don't have my phone (right) with me at the moment (which can happen at home)?
(Admittedly: A small luxury problem for me, but for people with hearing problems this is a real problem).
So I was looking for a simple way to get information about current events in the SmartHome. Ideally, this kind of "SmartHome event indicator" would also be cheap and discreet enough that I could equip every room with it.
In the meantime I integrated the software component into an ESPEasy plugin. With the help of this "pxlBlck plugin" it is now possible to control not only the 8×8 LED matrix used at the beginning.
Over time, new matrix types have been developed and added.
Here is the (so far) list of supported WS2812 aka Neoopixel LED matrices:
- 8×32 (=pot)
- 1×60 (= ringClock, ringClockMini, slotClock)
Overview of hardware platforms
In the following paragraph you will find an overview of the supported pxlblck platforms. Each of them contains a LED matrix in different sizes. With the help of one of the pxlBlck platforms you can build an info display that provides you decoratively and unobtrusively - if necessary - with important information and events from your SmartHome.
The pxlBlck_Pot consists of an 8×32 LED matrix that is built into a 3D printed planter. The LED matrix is only visible when switched on.
You can find detailed instructions for building the pxlBlck_Pot in the article pxlBlck - build pxlBlck_Pot
The pxlBlck_8x8 consists of an 8×8 LED matrix and can be used without taking up much space due to its small size (7x7x3cm). If desired, the time can be displayed via different dials. For events, animations and also user-defined icons can be displayed.
The detailed assembly instructions for the pxlBlck_8x8 can be found in the article pxlBlck - build pxlBlck_8x8
The pxlBlck_SlotClock consists of a 1×60 LED matrix (basically a LED strip) that is inserted into a 3D printed base and covered with a milky plexiglass plate. With the help of the circular division into 60 equal segments, the time can be displayed according to the well-known "analog clock" scheme.
You can find detailed instructions for building the pxlBlck_SlotClock in the article pxlBlck - pxlBlck_SlotClock
The pxlBlck_RingClock is very similar to the pxlBlck_SlotClock. It is also built with the help of a 1×60 LED matrix and can display the time according to the same scheme as the pxlBlck_SlotClock. However, the LED strip of the pxlBlck_RingClock is installed in a ring and not in a disk. This makes the design of the clock even more unobtrusive. The microcontroller for the control is built into the base of the pxlBlck_RingClock.
You can find detailed instructions for building the pxlBlck_RingClock in the article pxlBlck - build pxlBlck_RingClock
The pxlBlck_PipeLamp consists of a 26cm high column. Behind the satinized plexiglass tube is a 12×8 LED matrix, which can display various animations and, if desired, dials. Up to four tilt switches can be installed in the base of the pxlBlck_pipeLamp. This allows user-defined actions to be triggered by tilting the pxlBlck_pipeLamp.
You can find detailed instructions for building the pxlBlck_RingClock in the article pxlBlck - build pxlBlck_PipeLamp
The pxlBlck plugin
To control the different platforms you can use the pxlBlck plugin for ESPEasy. ESPEasy is a framework for the microcontrollers ESP8266 and ESP32. This can be extended by its basic functionality with the help of plugins.
The pxlBlck plugin is such a plugin. It takes over the control of the various platforms and also offers various functions, animations and features, which can be executed via commands.
How to install this plugin incl. ESPEasy on your pxlBlck platform and use the different features is described in the following articles.
- pxlBlck - Install and configure the pxlBlck plugin
- pxlBlck - Commands for configuring the pxlBlck
- pxlBlck - Configure and display animations
- pxlBlck - configure clock faces and screensavers
- pxlBlck - design icons, transfer them to the pxlBlck and display them
- pxlBlck - Turn off the display when absent
- pxlBlck - Automatic setting of the display brightness
Have fun with the project
I hope everything worked as described for you. If not or you have questions or suggestions please let me know in the comments. I will then add this to the article if necessary.
Ideas for new projects are always welcome. 🙂
PS 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 think it's cool that I share the information with you, I would be happy about a small donation to the coffee fund. 🙂