Ever since working on the Adafruit APA102 Disk, it seemed the next logical step was to apply the same idea to a Christmas tree. So, last year after all the holidays, when everything was on sale, I picked up a 7 foot tall white artificial tree. Green would just not do… too dark for all the color :) It’s still way to early to put up the tree in my mind but, in the interest of beta testing, I figured I would give it a pass this year. To skip to the point and see the results, check out the video below. Or continue past for all the details of how it’s done.

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After a long week at the Day Job(tm), I sought the catharsis brought about by creativity and making something. To that end, I took stock of what parts I had lying around. I had been wanting to do something with a couple of TinyTim LED boards I’ve had from previous projects. These displays were sent to us by our good friends at WyoLum. I decided I wanted to mount the 4 panels I had loose and make a nice-looking All-In-One 8×32 display. I grabbed a Raspberry Pi with wifi module, one of our AllPixel LED controllers, and got to work.

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Last week, we launched PixelWeb which comes with all of the animations in our animations repository but that only gets you so far. You want to add your own of course! Fortunately, it’s not a particularly complicated process and just requires adding a little extra information to your animation file so that PixelWeb knows what to do with it. Check out the video below and read up on the process on the PixelWeb Wiki to learn how.

A year ago we launched the AllPixel to much success on Kickstarter and, with it, BiblioPixel; our flexible, hardware agnostic animation framework. BiblioPixel makes writing and running your animations easy, and quickly gained in popularity; racking up over 20,000 installs in the last year. Today we are pleased to announce an exciting new update that brings BiblioPixel out of the command line and into your browser… PixelWeb!

Along with PixelWeb, today we also release a major upgrade to BiblioPixel! In v2.0 you can look forward to all of these great improvements:

  • Interactive Animation/Game Support
  • Input/GamePad handling
  • Animation Queues
  • Texture Maps
  • Transparency
  • Pixel/Display Scaling
  • Improved Image File Handling
  • Better Font Rendering
  • Better Threading Support
  • Global Brightness Handling
  • Up to 300% Faster
  • Many, Many Bug Fixes

We’ve also moved all animations over to our BiblioPixelAnimations repository, which is automatically installed by PixelWeb. We encourage all BiblioPixel and PixelWeb users to submit any animations they would like to share to the repository!

To quickly get started using PixelWeb, check out the install and usage video below. More information (including how to load your own animations into PixelWeb) will be coming very soon as we build out the PixelWeb Wiki, so stay tuned!

The Colossus LED display wasn’t just built to show off at things like SparkCon and MakerFaire. Honestly, that outing was a one-time-only deal. It was designed specifically for one patch of wall in my home office, so the intent was always to permanently install it there after its one weekend on the town.

There was just one slight problem… This guy:


Meet Skeletor. The Maniacal Labs Engineering Cat. And he would have liked nothing more than to claw into that cloth diffuser. We had gone with white cloth instead of semi-opaque white plastic because of the cost, but the cloth would just not hold up to years of feline abuse. But we realized that clear acrylic would protect the display, be much cheaper, and fortunately available for cheap at a custom size from a local plastics supplier.

The install was rounded out with some right angle, white molding which was cut into a frame that holds the plastic onto the front of the display and nailed in from the side.

Colossus Framed

As mentioned in the original build details we wanted to use a Raspberry Pi 2 to drive the display but it just couldn’t handle it. So for the final install, I picked up a GIGABYTE GB-BXBT-1900 for about $100. It’s nothing special but contains a Celeron J1900 CPU with 4 cores running at 2.4GHz, quite a bit more oomph than the quad-900MHz Raspberry Pi 2. That’s then running Ubuntu 15 and a soon-to-be-released web interface for BiblioPixel. I had an old Nexus 7 tablet that wasn’t being used anymore, so it was put to use as a complete overkill touch interface for controlling the display:

Colossus Controller

Check out the video at the top to see some of the games I programmed for the display :)