Close
0%
0%

pxlBlck - An IOT/SmartHome notification system

A multifunctional smartHome display and notification system powered by EspEasy

FabFab
Similar projects worth following
pxlBlck is a basis for a smartHome indication system. Several software and Hardware options are available. Thanks to the EspEasy interface the devices can be automated wihtout the need of external automation-software. In combination with external automation-software (e.g. NodeRed, MQTT server) it is also possible to display several notifications like doorbell, social media notifications (e.g whatsapp, facebook, ...), call notifications on mobile and landline, etc.

Every pxlBlck can be eqipped with several sensors. So it is also possible to measure different environment data, forward this data via wifi and/or react to this measured data.

pxlBlck is a basis for a smartHome indication system. Several software and Hardware options are available. Thanks to the EspEasy interface the devices can be automated wihtout the need of external automation-software. In combination with external automation-software (e.g. NodeRed, MQTT server) it is also possible to display several notifications like doorbell, social media notifications (e.g whatsapp, facebook, ...), call notifications on mobile and landline, etc.

Every pxlBlck can be eqipped with several sensors. So it is also possible to measure different environment data, forward this data via wifi and/or react to this measured data.

Short overview:

  • System for displaying notifications in the SmartHome
  • Software is based on an ESPEasy plugin
  • Runs on an ESP8266 or ESP32
  • Display of notifications via an LED matrix and/or sound module
  • Various LED matrices supported
  • Different animations can be displayed
  • Can also be used as a basis for various sensors in the SmartHome
  • Display of user-defined icons possible
  • Display of time is possible during "standBy"

More detailed overview here: https://nerdiy.de/en/pxlblck/

History:
Initially, the pxlBlck consisted of an 8x8 WS2812 aka Neopixel LED matrix (looks like a block of pixels. Hence the name :)), powered by an ESP8266 and related software.

The purpose of this was to create a simple way of keeping me up to date on the events in my SmartHome.

It kind of bothered me that I collect all kinds of data with my SmartHome, but that I rarely see this data.
For example, I was informed on my smartphone when the doorbell rang. But what if I don't have my cell phone with me (directly) at the moment (which can happen at home)?
(Granted: A little luxury problem for me, but for people with hearing impairments this is a real problem.)

So I was looking for an easy way to get information about current events in the SmartHome.
In the ideal case, this type of "SmartHome event indicator" would also be so cheap and discreet that I can equip every room with it.

Practical side effect: You are notified of (eg.) the doorbell or a WhatsApp message even if you are listening to music, playing the guitar or using headphones. :)

In the meantime I have integrated the software component into an ESPEasy plugin. With the help of this "pxlBlck-Plugin" it is now possible to control not only the 8x8 LED matrix used at the beginning.
Over time, new matrix types have been developed and added to be supported by the pxlBlck-plugin. 

Here is a list of the WS2812 aka Neoopixel LED matrices that are supported so far:

Quick overview of some members of the pxlBlck family:

Each displayed pxlBlck-type is powered by the same ESPEasy Plugin. The pxlBlck-type can be set in the web-overview of Espeasy. Scroll down for more details and a small overviiew of the web configuration interface.


Other features:

Animation types:

An overview about the possible animations and how to trigger them...

Read more »

Material.pdf

Material list for the components of the pxlBlck_8x8, pxlBlck_RingClock, pxlBlck_Pot and pxlBlck_SlotClock

Adobe Portable Document Format - 182.98 kB - 12/29/2020 at 18:22

Preview
Download

  • New pxlBlck-family member: pxlBlck_CassetteLamp

    Fab03/14/2021 at 16:47 0 comments

    The last days I finished the build instructions of a new pxlBlck family member. The pxlBlck_CassetteLamp!

    More infos are available here: https://nerdiy.de/en/howto-pxlblck-pxlblck_cassettelamp-aufbauen/

    or here:https://hackaday.io/project/178225-pxlblckcassettelamp

  • Scale up your SlotClock

    Fab01/04/2021 at 20:26 0 comments

    The WS2812 LED strips are available in different lengths or “dense” (LEDs/m). In theory, these (longer LED strips) can also be used to build a SlotClock. 

    Oliver from https://huf.org/wp/ has taken the trouble and created a Google Sheet with which you can easily calculate the scaling factors. With the factor that fits your LED strip, you should be able to print a suitable STL (if necessary divided into several parts).

    Thank you Oliver! 🙂

    Link to the Google Sheet:

    or here:

  • Only some minutes left! :)

    Fab12/31/2020 at 11:29 0 comments

    So (at least here in Germany) there are only a few hours left until 2020 is finally over.

    Those of you who have already build your own pxlBlck can easily display every minute how many minutes you have to endure in 2020 until it's finally.
    Just add the following rules to the rules section in the web interface and off you go. :)

    on Clock#Time=All,**:** do
       //1577833200=unixtime at "1.1.2020 @ 00:00"
    
       let,1,%unixtime%-1577833200   //calculating seconds passed since 1.1.2020 @ 00:00
       let,1,%v1%/60   //converting to minuntes passed since 1.1.2020 @ 00:00
       let,1,527040-%v1% //calculating minutes left in 2020. 527040=minutes in a leap year
    
       pbrntxt,10,10,10,0,0,0,25,8,%v1% minutes until 2020 is finally over!,
    
    endon

    Even if I didn't manage to document all pxlBlck platforms in 2020. I promise to do so in the coming weeks. Not only will there be more instructions on how to build the hardware. (You can find the previous ones here: https://nerdiy.de/en/tag/pxlblckplattform/ ) More actual "use cases" will follow soon. (You can see the previous ones here: https://nerdiy.de/en/tag/pxlblckusecase/ ) So you can easily integrate the pxlBlcks into your SmartHome and feed them with the corresponding data.

    See you in the new year. :)

  • Material list for the Pot, SlotClock, 8x8 and RingClock added

    Fab12/29/2020 at 18:29 0 comments

    I've added the material list for the pxlBlck_Pot, the pxlBlck_SlotClock, the pxlBlck_8x8 and the pxlBlck_RingClock.

    There are a few example links to Amazon, Ebay and partly also Aliexpress and Banggood.

    Please do not be too shocked at the total prices. I mostly used the "worst case" prices. In addition, many of the materials listed (e.g. filament, solder, etc.) are often already available or are not needed in such large quantities.

    If you like to check it out. The material list is added to this project. Link: https://cdn.hackaday.io/files/1758257522496800/Material.pdf

    It includes mostly the same parts you can also find in the material list in the build logs. These are available here:

    Let me know if you find something that is not provided on the material list. :)

  • Good Bye 2020!

    Fab12/28/2020 at 19:54 0 comments

    I did mention it in my last log already: It's two/three days left until 2020 is (finaly) finished.

    Here comes  the pxlBlck-way to say "Good Bye 2020":

  • Display relative values or how to say "Goody Bye" in BarGraph-Style :)

    Fab12/28/2020 at 19:42 0 comments

    I started with the documentation of the pxlBlcks (which I had been postponed for a too long time) in November 2020 after Hackaday.com had announced the “GoodBye 2020” challenge. 

    I had used the pxlBlcks for a long time, but as so often I never found the time / motivation to write it all down.

    Thanks to a tip from one of the first testers of the pxlBlck plug-in, I came up with another idea how to better visualize when 2020 is finally behind you: A kind of loading bar that visualizes how many days of 2020 are already gone and accordingly still remain.

    For this purpose, I have implemented a new command in the pxlBlck plugin with which up to five relative (percent) values can be shown on the display. So you can not only display the end of a period but also various scaled (if the value is absolute) or relative values.

    For example, the value of the relative humidity can be displayed very well because this value is already relative and corresponds to a percentage. To represent absolute values you have to use a little more “mathematics”. Sounds complicated. But it is not.

    I prepared some examples that show how you can use and trigger this command using the ESPEasy rules or via an external NodeRed instance. Everything you need is documented here: https://nerdiy.de/en/howto-pxlblck-relative-werte-als-bargraph-darstellen/

    Additionaly here is a video that shows the setup. I prepared the mentioned rules in the pxlBlck_8x8, pxlBlck_32x8 and the pxlBlck_RingClock.

    Each minute (later I reduced the interval to each hour) the three different pxlBlcks display a hint for the ending year of 2020.

    • The pxlBlck_8x8 starts a running text that says "Good Bye" in many different languages.
    • The pxBlck_RingClock shows a bar graph/gauge style display that indicates as relative value how much of the year 2020 is already passed.
    • The pxlBlck_32x8 displays first via the same BarGraph-Style display the progress of the year 2020. Two seconds later it also displays the running text with the "Good Bye"-messages.

    All this is triggered by the more or less same rules. The used commands automatically adapt this to the configured led-matrix.

    Some more examples of the mentioned "barGraph"-command

  • Build guide for pxlBlck_RingClock added

    Fab12/20/2020 at 16:27 0 comments

    Hey guys,

    the article on the construction of the pxlBlck_RingClock is ready. The RingClock is very similar to the pxlBlck_SlotClock. Only that the frame is a little more filigree. There is also the option of integrating an RTC in the housing for the RingClock. So the clock can also be operated without a time source via NTP. :)

    Build article is available here: https://nerdiy.de/en/howto-pxlblck-die-pxlblck_ringclock-aufbauen/

  • pxlBlck_8x8 build article finished

    Fab12/15/2020 at 21:18 0 comments

    Hey guys,

    it took a little longer than I thought, but here's the next member of the pxlBlck family: the pxlBlck_8x8
    This uses an 8x8 WS2812 LED matrix to display icons and animations and is also powered by an ESP8266. So you can use the complete range of functions of ESPEasy again.

    Due to the limited resolution, it was not so easy to find a clock face with which you can show both hours and minutes on the display. The clock face shown now shows the number of hours by means of the large visible number. The minutes are shown by means of the displayed pixels. The display consists of 8x8 = 64 pixels. So the pixels in the corners of the square are not used to display the minutes. Reading down to the minute is unfortunately not as fast / intuitive with this dial as with the dials for the larger LED matrixes, but you can at least roughly estimate how far the hour has progressed (or not). : D

    If you have any other ideas for a clock face on such a small LED matrix, I look forward to your comment. :)

    The full build article incl. material list ist available here: https://nerdiy.de/en/howto-pxlblck-pxlblck_8x8-aufbauen/

    And of course some pictures following. :)

    Overview of some example icons. (Yes the instagram-icon needs a little redesign. :D)

  • The first two hardware plattforms: pxlBlck_SlotClock & pxlBlck_Pot

    Fab12/13/2020 at 17:52 0 comments

    I finally managed to create the tutorials for the first two hardware platforms of the pxlBlck family.

    pxlBlck_Pot

    The pxlBlck_Pot is basically a 3D printed flower planter. A 32×8 WS2812 LED matrix can be inserted into this. The whole 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.

    More info incl. detailed build log and material list is available here: https://nerdiy.de/en/howto-pxlblck-pxlblck_pot-aufbauen/


    pxlBlck_SlotClock

    The pxlBlck_SlotClock consists of a 1×60 LED matrix. It can display the time in the same way as an analog clock. The colors of the individual hands can be adjusted. Hour markers can also be displayed. This makes orientation and reading the time a little easier. :)

    Animations can also be shown on the LED display to provide information about events.

    More info incl. detailed build log and material list is available here: https://nerdiy.de/en/howto-pxlblck-pxlblck_slotclock-aufbauen/

    pxlBlck_Pot
    pxlBlck_Pot
    pxlBlck_SlotClock
    pxlBlck_SlotClock

  • Design icons, transfer them to the pxlBlck and display them

    Fab12/13/2020 at 17:45 0 comments

    Another article is ready. This describes how the icons can be created in .PPM format and transferred to the pxlBlck.

    The icons can then be displayed on the pxlBlck. You can use different fade-in and fade-out effects and also display an associated scrolling text. :)

    All of this can be triggered using the (for ESPEasy) typical commands via MQTT, UDP or HTTP requests. So the whole thing can be controlled and triggered very well from the well-known SmartHome system. :)

    Sorry for the bad video quality. Really tricky to film something with such big brightness differences. :/

View all 13 project logs

  • 1
    Build instructions for the pxlBlck_RingClock

    The complete build instructions incl. detailed pictures, step by step guide and material list to build the pxlBlck_RingClock is available here: https://nerdiy.de/en/howto-pxlblck-die-pxlblck_ringclock-aufbauen/

    Overview

    Here you can see a small overview of what the pxlBlck_RingClock can look like. As usual, the colors of the minute, second, hour hand and the hour marker can be set. The brightness of the hour markers and the hands can be adjusted independently of each other.

    Collect the parts you need

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

    To build the pxlBlck_RingClock you need the following parts.

    • WS2812 LED strip 144LEDs/m 60LEDs long
    • 3D printed LED holder
    • 3D printed base (there are different versions)
    • 3x cables approx. 10cm long
    • 1x Wemos D1 Mini
    • 2x self-tapping screws 2×8
    • 1x acyl glass ring inner diameter: 130mm, outer diameter: 141mm, Thickness: 3mm
    • 2x M8x40 cylinder head screw

    Another view of the ring parts.

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

    Screw the LED ring to the mini base

    There are different versions of the socket. The socket shown here is the smallest of the available sockets. It only houses the ESP8266. (More doesn’t fit in there either). Due to its low weight, the pxlBlck_RingClock stands upright, but also tips over quickly. So you should only use this base if the planned installation site is level. As an alternative socket, there are sockets below, which can also be weighed down with weights. In addition, there is a little more space in one of these sockets. For example, an RTC (real-time clock) can also be integrated into this socket.

    To do this, screw the base to the LED holder as shown. You can use the illustrated M2 screws including nuts or self-tapping 2×8 screws.

    Another view of the screwed base with the LED holder.

    Another view of the screwed base with the LED holder.

    Prepare the LED strips

    Before you can insert the LED strip into the base, you should solder the connection lines to it.

    To do this, remove the insulation at each end 5mm.

    Then put …

    … the LED strip in front of you so that the arrow points away from you. This is important because the data input of the LED strip is on this side.

    Now you should prepare the first contacts with some solder. This makes soldering the cables a little easier later.

    Solder the leads, then as shown …

    … to the prepared contacts of the LED strip. Cables are soldered to the following contacts.

    • G
    • 5V
    • DIN

    Another view of the soldered lines.

    So that the LED strip can be easily inserted into the LED holder, you should now carefully bend the red line so that all lines lead away from the LED strip in the same direction.

    Important: Make sure that you do not stress the contact surface of the SMD strip too much. Otherwise it could happen that the wire including the contact surface tear off.

    Close-up of the bent wires.

    Insert the LED strip into the LED ring

    After you have prepared the LED strip, you can now insert it into the LED holder.

    To do this, guide the cables through the LED holder and the screwed-on base as shown.

    Then you can start from the lower “6 o’clock position” to insert the LED strip into the LED holder.

    The LED strip should be pushed into the LED holder as far as it will go.

    Another view of the inserted LED strip.

    Another view of the inserted LED strip.

    Insert the acrylic glass ring

    As a diffuser, you should now insert a suitable LED ring into the LED holder.

    Put the diffuser on the LED holder …

    … and press it evenly over the entire circumference into the LED holder.

    The diffuser should ultimately sit flush in the LED bracket.

    View of the structure so far.

    Connect the ESP8266 to the LED strip

    Your pxlBlck_RingClock should now look pretty much finished. However, the heart – the ESP8266 – for operating the clock is still missing.

    For this you need the ESP8266. I do recommend using the Wemos D1 Mini here. The ESP8266 is installed on this.

    You can now connect the Wemos D1 Mini to the prepared connection lines of the LED strip.

    To do this, the LED strip must be connected according to the following scheme.

    LED-Stripe
    5V
    G
    DIN

    Another view of the connected ESP8266.

    Connect LDR to ESP8266

    I recommend installing an LDR so that your pxlBlck-RingClock can also automatically adjust the brightness of the LED strip to the ambient brightness. This is a bit fiddly due to the limited space in the base, but ultimately it’s worth it. 🙂

    For this you need an LDR and a “normal” (1 / W) 1k resistor.

    Also, some heat shrink tubing (not shown in the picture) is very helpful.

    Solder the 1k resistor then …

    … as shown to the shown contacts on the Wemos D1 MIni.

    So the resistor between GND and the input of the ADC is soldered. It functions as a series resistor to the LDR and forms a voltage divider in combination with the LDR.

    Close-up of the soldered resistor.

    Close-up of the soldered resistor.

    You now have to solder the LDR between the contacts of the analog digital converter and 3V3.

    For this you should protect at least one of the LDR contacts against short circuits with a shrink tube.

    The LDR itself should then protrude approx. 5mm beyond the end of the Wemos D1 Mini board.

    Another view of the installed LDR.

    Slide the ESP8266 into the mini base

    After you have connected the LDR to the Wemos D1 Mini, it can now be pushed into the base. But if you want you can wait and test the function first. To do this, just skip this part and program and test the pxlBlck_RingClock first. However, it is also no problem to take the Wemos D1 Mini out again later.

    To slide the Wemos D1 Mini into the base, you should slide it into the base as shown.

    Make sure that no SMD components on the Wemos D1 Mini are damaged or torn off.

    You should be able to slide in the Wemos D1 Mini without much effort.

    The LDR should peek out a bit at the end.

    If you want, you can then bend the LDR up a little and “align” it even better with the ambient light.

    Another view.

    Another view of the built pxlBlck_RingClock.

    Another view of the built pxlBlck_RingClock.

    Another view of the built pxlBlck_RingClock.

    Another view of the built pxlBlck_RingClock.

    Another view of the built pxlBlck_RingClock.

    Structure of the pxlBlck-Ring Clock including RTC (Real Time Clock)

    The pxlBlcks usually obtain the correct time via an NTP server that they can reach using the WiFi connection. Sometimes you want to set up the pxlBlcks in a place where no WiFi connection is available. In this case, the missing source for a correct time can be replaced by an RTC. An RTC (Real Time Clock) maintains the set time with a battery backup. So the time is not lost even without a power supply.

    For the construction of the pxlBlck_RingClock including the possibility of accommodating an RTC you need the following parts.

    • WS2812 LED strip 144LEDs / m 60LEDs long
    • 3D printed LED holder
    • 3D printed socket (now the larger version which is also available in the Git repository.)
    • 3x cables approx. 10cm long
    • 1x Wemos D1 Mini
    • 2x self-tapping screws 2×8
    • 1x acyl glass ring inner diameter: 130mm, outer diameter: 141mm
    • 2x M8x40 cylinder head screw

    If you also want to connect the LDR (information below) also the following parts.

    • LDR
    • 1k resistor 1 / 4W
    • approx. 3 cm shrink tubing

    Another view of the required components without the “ring parts”.

    Connect the RTC to the ESP8266

    Of course, you need the Wemos D1 Mini and an RTC to set it up.

    Now start preparing the RTC by …

    … carefully bending the tub ledge …

    … and then pull off the plastic part.

    You can now use the bare contact tongues as a kind of assembly aid.

    Merge the RTC with the Wemos D1 Mini as shown …

    … and glue the RTC to the Wemos D1 Mini using a drop of hot glue.

    Now you can remove the contact tongues by briefly heating them with a soldering iron. A pair of tweezers or pliers with which you can pull out the contact tongues while heating them with the soldering iron is very helpful.

    The contacts of the RTC should then look as shown.

    Now you have to connect the RTC to the I2C bus of the ESP8266 and the supply voltage.

    To do this, a first line leads from contact “D” of the RTC to contact “D2” of the ESP8266.

    Repeat this with another line between contact “C” of the RTC and contact “D1” of the ESP8266.

    Close-up view of the soldered I2C bus connection.

    In addition, you can now establish the ground connection between the RTC and ESP8266. Solder a line …

    … between the “-” contact of the RTC and the “G” contact of the ESP8266.

    Last but not least, the RTC must of course also be connected to the 3.3V power supply.

    Solder a wire between the “+” contact of the RTC and the “3V3” contact of the ESP8266.

    Another view of the connected RTC.

    Connect the LDR to the ESP8266

    This step is optional. With the help of a connected LDR you are able to configure your pxlBlck in such a way that it adapts the brightness of the connected LED matrix to the ambient brightness. This means that the brightness of the connected LED matrix is dimmed when the ambient light becomes darker and increased when the ambient light becomes brighter.

    To do this, you first have to connect the shown 1k resistor between the contacts “GND” and “A0” of the Wemos D1 Mini.

    An example of how you can make this possible very compact is shown in the picture.

    Make sure that there are no short circuits to the neighboring components.

    On top of the Wemos D1 Mini you then have to solder the LDR as shown.

    It is recommended to insulate the bare connection pins of the LDR with some shrink tubing.

    The “head” of the LDR should be soldered so that it protrudes approx. five to ten millimeters above the end of the Wemos D1 Mini circuit board.

    Connect the ESP8266 to the LED strip

    Now that you have prepared the Wemos D1 Mini so far, you can continue with the connection to the LED strip.

    Solder the connection lines of the LED strip to the Wemos D1 Mini as shown.

    You can connect the contacts of the LED strip to the contacts of the Wemos D1 Mini according to the following scheme.

    LED-Strip
    5V
    G
    DIN

    Another view.

    Slide the ESP8266 into the base

    Now that you have connected all parts to the ESP8266 / Wemos D1 Mini, you can install the Wemos D1 Mini in the base.

    To do this, slide it into the illustrated recess in the base as shown – with the RTC first.

    Make sure that no components on the PCB of the Wemos D1 Mini are torn off or cables are jammed.

    The Wemos D1 Mini should be able to be pushed into the recess without great effort.

    Install weights in the stand

    If you want to make your pxlBlck_RingClock a little more stable, you can equip the base with additional weights.

    For example, the M8x40 cylinder head screws shown are quite suitable for this.

    You can simply …

    … push them into the recesses in the base of the pxlBlck_RingClock.

    So that these stay in place, you should fix them in the base with a drop of hot glue. 🙂

    Programming firmware

    After setting up the pxlBlck_SlotClock, 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.

    Configure LDR to adjust the display brightness

    So that the LDR is read out by ESPEasy and the current brightness of the LED matrix is updated accordingly, you must first make a few configurations. How you can proceed is described in the following article.

    Configuration of the RTC in ESPEasy

    In order to be able to use the RTC in combination with ESPEasy, I wrote another plugin. I will soon describe its configuration in a separate article and then of course add it here or post it on Nerdiy.de.

    Set LED offset and alignment

    Since the LED strips can be installed in different ways, you may have to adjust the display.

    For this you can set the offset of the “twelve o’clock position” from the beginning of the strip. You can find this setting in the web menu of the plugin in the section “12 o’clock LED position”. It’s best to try something here until you have found the correct value. For better orientation you can activate the option “Thick 12 o’clock mark”. So you can easily see where the 12 o’clock position of the clock face is and adjust the offset so that it is at the top position.

    In the event that your RingClock is running in the wrong direction, you can reverse the “direction of rotation” with the “Direction Inversed” option.

    pxlBlck-Usecases

    Under the tag “pxlBlckUsecase” articles are listed in which you can find examples how to integrate the pxlBlcks in your smartHome. 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. 🙂

  • 2
    Build instructions for the pxlBlck_8x8

    The complete build instructions incl. detailed pictures, step by step guide and material list to build the pxlBlck_8x8 is available here: https://nerdiy.de/en/howto-pxlblck-pxlblck_8x8-aufbauen/

    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.

    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. 🙂

  • 3
    Build instructions for the pxlBlck_Pot

    The complete build instructions incl. detailed pictures, step by step guide and material list to build the pxlBlck_Pot is available here: https://nerdiy.de/en/howto-pxlblck-pxlblck_pot-aufbauen/

    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
    GND
    5V
    D6

    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. 🙂

View all 4 instructions

Enjoy this project?

Share

Discussions

JulieF wrote 01/10/2021 at 17:18 point

Thank you so much for the different suggestions and tips. Personally, I used the soldering tips during an install at a customers location. We added some fancy lights to their project and it made all the difference. Thanks!

https://www.drywallservicesvictoria.com/

  Are you sure? yes | no

Similar Projects

Does this project spark your interest?

Become a member to follow this project and never miss any updates