Matrix Computer Side Panel

RGB computer side panel with The Matrix "digital rain" animation

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This project uses a PCB board with a NodeMCU ESP8266, coded to control 216 NeoPixels, that animates the side of a computer tower with the famous "raining code" animation from the Matrix franchise.

The NeoPixel control board is a modular, customizable PCB breakout board for controlling multiple strips of NeoPixels with user input options to control the speed and brightness of the display with potentiometers and control the animation mode with a push button.

This project does use tools like laser cutters that are not accessible to everyone, so alternative options and suggestions throughout this project such as creating a spray paint stencil with a traditional printer and also building a breadboard circuit instead of having the PCB boards fabricated via online services.

The GitHub repo for this project, including the PCB Gerber files and code, is available here:

  • 1


    • 1x PCB (see comments in next section)
    • 1x NodeMCU ESP8266
    • 1x 74AHCT125 chip
    • 2x 10K Ohm resistors
    • 4x 470 Ohm resistors
    • 2x 1N4001 diodes
    • 1x 1000uF electrolytic capacitor
    • 12x M3 20mm bolts
    • 1x DC barrel jack female and male connector (recommend 5A rating over the more common 2.5A rating)
    • 1x ON/OFF switch (optional)
    • 1x Momentary push button (optional)
    • 2x 10K Ohm potentiometers (optional)
    • 2x 2-pin JST-VH female and male connectors (optional)
    • 4x 3-pin JST-VH female and male connectors (optional)
    • Zipties for cable management (optional)
    • 5m strip of WS2812B NeoPixels (60 LEDs/meter)
    • 2x 40cm by 40cm sheet of black acrylic 3mm (dimensions will vary depending on you PC)
    • 1x 40cm by 40cm sheet of white diffusing acrylic 3mm (dimensions will vary depending on you PC)
    • Acrylic glue or super glue
    • Assorted electrical accessories: wire, solder, heat shrink tube
    • Computer with a power supply that has one 5V and GND pin available. Alternatively can bypass the inbuilt power supply and power the circuit by a traditional 5V 5Amp power supply


    • Laser cutter (optional but recommended)
    • Soldering iron
    • Allen key for M3 bolt
    • Miscellaneous tools: Wire strippers, snips
  • 2
    PCB Fabrication

    I designed this PCB in Fusion 360 electrical, in the next section you can see the electronic schematic. To fabricate the board I sent the Gerber files to PCBWay at (Disclaimer: the YouTube video I posted of this build process is sponsored by PCBWay).

    Download the latest Gerber files zip version from the GitHub repo. As of publishing (Dec 12 2021), the latest version is v1-2-0. This zip file can be uploaded directly to the PCB fabrication website with the default options left as is.

    When assembling the PCB you will notice in the pictures above I have marked the PCB with all the labels of where the different resistors, diodes, chips, and other components go.

    Alternatively, if you do not want to have this board fabricated you can assemble the circuit on a breadboard, following the wiring schematic in the next section.

  • 3
    Circuit Assembly

    As mentioned in the previous section, the first picture in this section shows the electronic schematic. This can be used as a reference when assembling the circuit, although I did my best to label all the components directly on the PCB so you can follow the markings directly on the board when assembling the circuit.

    Alternatively, you can also assemble the circuit on a breadboard. I have a picture showing this although I opted to use an Arduino Nano for this whereas the PCB uses an ESP8266, you are free to use any microcontroller, you'll just need to update the pin assignments in the code accordingly.

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Samy wrote 12/27/2021 at 19:44 point

soooo cool!

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