No more wires!

A project log for IoT RGB LED Matrix Controller (ESP32)

This project is about building and programming an ESP32 based controller for a 32x32 RGB LED matrix, controlled from Node-RED over MQTT

solenoidSolenoid 03/30/2018 at 09:440 Comments

The wires inside the frame were bothering me, it was messy and unreliable. Any movement of the frame might have made the device inoperable and it was easy to make connection mistakes. On the other hand the ESP32 module needed so many passives and soldering without an oven was impossible.

I decided to make a breakout for a breakout. I designed a board around the ESP32 devkit board that had the footprint for the RGB matrix connector, the ESP32 devkit module and also for the 5V power input connector. The devkit breakout of the ESP32 module already had a voltage regulator from 5V to 3.3V and all the bits for programming (USB-UART, Micro-USB connector…).

I rolled my PCB:

Looks good right? But...

This was a pretty hard fail, the board was so easy to make that I didn’t even double check the ESP32 devkit footprint. I did however succeed in testing it before I reordered a corrected batch:

My second try worked out well (traces are on the other side):

The parts are the following:

The 15 pin connectors are not really needed, the ESP32 devkit module can be soldered directly to the board. The female connectors are handy so, but they make the ESP32 module touch the backside of the frame...

This was the insides before:

And now:

The power cable came with the matrix. It has two outputs, presumably to power a second screen.