We are pleased to announce availability of our latest kit, the Super 7 Seg display!

The Super 7 Seg kit takes using a 7 Segment display to the extreme! It started as an exercise in “how many 7 segment displays can I drive with a single ATMega328p” and we are quite proud of the result.

Twelve beautiful, bright, 0.8″ tall digits powered and driven by only 3 pins. The simple serial connection (literally just sending text) means you can have a simple to use 7 segment display controlled by anything able to output a serial signal, including but not limited to Arduino, Raspberry Pi, and any normal computer (with a USB to serial cable). If required, there are also basic, easy to use, commands that can be sent allowing direct control over each segment of each digit of the display.

But wait, is twelve digits not enough for you? Fear not! You can chain up to 10 Super 7 Seg displays together and still control all of them from just the same 3 pins! Every bit of text that won’t fit on the first display is automatically sent down the line to the next and the next after that.

For more details check out the Super 7 Seg product page.

It’s always a happy day when a project makes it from the “In Progress” bucket to the “Done” bucket. This one had been in the former for quite some time. But now that it’s complete, I thought it fitting to show it off and share some of the steps along the way.

This project actually started a while back, around when we were working on our giant LED display, Colossus. I love how the foam core dividers work for that project, and thought it would be awesome to replicate that effect in a slightly smaller form factor, namely a coffee table. Also, my existing Ikea coffee table had started to fall apart, so a replacement was in order.

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When it comes to LED related builds there’s one right of passage that we somehow let fall by the wayside… An Infinity Mirror.

We have a ridiculously long backlog of things we’d like to build and very often they stay on the list until one day when an idea strikes or a perfect core component presents itself. In this case it was finding a good deal on 144 pixel/m APA102 LED strips that were initially intended for use with another project. The eureka moment here was when the realization was made that a ring of 120 pixels would make for a fantastic clock (see end of video above) because, well, we try to make a clock out of everything. Why is 120 pixels perfect? Because 120 is divisible by 60, 24, and 12 evenly, making it absolutely ideal for a clock. And what better way to show off our latest product, the PiPixel?!

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It would be an understatement that we here at Maniacal Labs loves all things LED. With our first major product we brought you the AllPixel, allowing super simple LED control from anything with a USB port and Python. At the time one of the major reasons we went that direction was that the things we wanted to do were too big (like Colossus) for something like the original Raspberry Pi to handle. But a lot has changed in the intervening years and we found ourselves building more and more with a Raspberry Pi at the heart, running the show.

But connecting LEDs to the Pi and providing power was never as simple as it was with the AllPixel. We’d have some jumper wires hanging off the GPIO header manually wiring power into the LEDs. So, in a fit of “spend a bunch of time to save a bunch of time” we designed the PiPixel kit.

It provides all you need to drive LEDs directly off your Raspberry Pi with as little hassle as possible: Power input, signal level shifting, and data/power output. Data output is selectable and available on SPI, GPIO 13, and GPIO 18. Via these data outputs and our BiblioPixel LED animation framework, it can handle the control of the following LED types:

  • APA102 (“DotStar”)
  • SK9822
  • WS2801
  • LPD8806
  • WS281x (“NeoPixel”)

As you may note, this is not as many protocols as the AllPixel, some just cannot be handled by the Raspberry Pi, but this does cover most of the popular chipsets.

The PiPixel will also work with any other library that utilizes the SPI port (/dev/spi0.0), GPIO 13, or GPIO 18. But, of course, we highly recommend that you check out our feature rich BiblioPixel library.

Best of all, we designed the PiPixel to be super cheap and you can pick one up on Tindie for a mere $8.50.

Of course, as with everything else we do, the PiPixel is open source and you can checkout all the design files over on GitHub.

Assembly and usage documentation is available at the above linked GitHub repo, but be sure to check out the video below for a full walkthrough.

For questions, comments, or support, head over to our Maniacal Labs Users Google Group.