PIXO Pixel – An ESP32 Based IoT RGB Display for Make/100!

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According to kickstarter.com


I am back again with my second Make/100 Project! After the first being a very large success and very fun, I decided to do another. This time I am bringing to you the PIXO Pixel!

What is it?

PIXO Pixel Kickstarter
PIXO Pixel Kickstarter

The PIXO Pixel is an open source RGB display that uses the very cool, APA102-2020 Addressable LED in a 16 x 16 array. These LEDs are very fast, bright, and tiny; only 2mm x 2mm!  Controlling the LED matrix is an ESP32 which is a WiFi and BLE connected microcontroller than can be programmed using the Arduino IDE(Or MicroPython!). Together these make up a very cool desktop display that you can program to do pretty much anything you want. There is also an added proto board for if you want to add more components like an accelerometer, thermometer, light sensor, potentiometer, anything!

256 LEDs
256 LEDs

I will provide a sample program to get things started, but programming will require some knowledge in programming Arduinos and ESP32*.

*This product is for advanced users who understand and are comfortable with the power requirements for such a device. See “End User” and “Power Limit Disclaimer” sections.

What can you do with it?

Anything your mind can program! Other than just looking really cool you can display all sorts of information gathered from the internet.

Social Media Notifications:


Computer Game Interaction:


Bedside Alarm Clock:


Cryptocurrency Market Watch:

BTC Counter
BTC Counter




I often make projects similar to this, but generally end up only making 1 or 2 of the finished product then a YouTube video about the project. It is usually up to the viewer to try and recreate it using the free resources I have provided. The reason I am doing this project with the Make/100 Kickstarter is I will be making up to 100 of the PIXO Pixels.

For part of the Make/100 I will also be creating a video documenting my build process for the PIXO Pixel and also list and say the names all of the people part of the Make/100(if you want your name listed). This is the same as the last Make/100 project I completed. You can check out the last video here:

I will also be personally adding my initials “SH” and numbering each PIXO Pixel as I assemble them. This will make them unique to the Kickstarter.

I have done this in the past with some small circuit boards I gave away to my YouTube Subscribers.

Join the Make/100:

If you’re part of the Make/100, meaning you will be receiving 1 of the 100 PIXO Pixels I am making, you will get:

  • Personally Built and Signed, Assembled and Working, PIXO Pixel, ready to program.
  • Name listed on the GitHub as a Backer and Supporter.
  • Your name read out loud (All 100!) on the assembly video I will make for the boards. – See my other videos! https://www.youtube.com/seanhodginsfilms
  • Supporting the Open Source Community

What is an ESP32?

An ESP32 is a very small powerful microcontroller with embedded WiFi and Bluetooth LE capabilities. It can be programmed using the Arduino IDE, but there are a number of other options(I’m mainly familiar with Arduino). The ESP32 will control the LEDs and any infomation you want to collect. So say you want to get the latest tweet from someone. You can program the ESP32 to go on twitter collect the tweet, then display it on the PIXO Pixel display.

Learn more about the ESP32 here: http://espressif.com/en/products/hardware/esp32/overview

The ESP is connected to a FTDI, so you can plug it directly into your computer via USB and it will be detected as a serial port. This avoids having to have another $10 component just to program it.

Have your name featured in my video:

My channel isn’t huge yet, but its getting there! I will personally be naming all 100 of the people who back the Make/100 tiers of the Kickstarter in the build video for the PIXO Pixel. It was really fun annoucing the names of all of the contributors.

You can of course opt out of this, or write a funny name. Keep it PG! You can remain anonymous if you want..

Stretch Goals:

There is just one stretch goal I have in mind right now. If we get to 50 sold PIXO Pixels, they will be made in Matte Black PCB Mask, which is IMO much nicer than the Glossy Black.

I also might design a 3D printable cover for the LEDs to contain the light in a different way.

This could be updated with more later!

What is in the Make/100 Assembled package?

  • 1 x Assembled PIXO Pixel Ready to Run*
  • 1 x USB Cable

*the PIXO Pixel will require a power supply capable of outputting 5A at 5V. See some examples of suitable power supplies below in “Power Limit Disclaimer”

Feel Like Building Your Own?

Built It Kit
Built It Kit

If you are brave enough to assemble one of these yourself and you want to. You can choose the “Bare Circuit Board + Hardware” reward. If you choose this you will receive(everything in the picture above):

  • Bare Circuit Boards for the PIXO Pixel(no components)
  • ESP32 Module
  • 4 x Screws
  • 6 x Spacers
  • 4 x Bolts

What you will still need to get it working:

  • Electronic components like Capacitors, Resistors etc.
  • 256 x APA102-2020 LEDs
  • 5V power supply with at least 5A

It will be on you to source the remaining components, but all the information to assemble the boards will be available on the HackADay.io page.

*Disclaimer, sourcing the LEDs to build one unit yourself will be more expensive than what I offer the assembled unit for. Keep that in mind.

Just want to Contribute?

Previous Giveaway PCB Example
Previous Giveaway PCB Example

If you just want to contribute to my open source projects there are the $1CAD and $10CAD options. With the $10 option I will be sending out a custom circuit board that will be my thanks to you. Most people do stickers. I do circuit boards. They will likely be a keychain showing you’re a supporter of the Open Source Community! Above is an example, but I will be making a new one for this.



I live in Canada and shipping has always been a nightmare and people are never happy with the cost etc.  I am offering free Tracked shipping within North America(US and CAN), and Free Non-Tracked Shipping International*.

All shipping can be upgraded (Faster and Tracked International) if you contact me about it before the Kickstarter ends. Or it can be added on later, but will require a separate payment to upgrade.

*Once the item has been shipped non-tracked I can no longer be responsible for the item. You must make sure your residing country accepts “Hobby Electronics” which is the label I use for the customs information or it may not make it to you. I suggest upgrading to Tracked whenever possible, but it is quite expensive.

All shipping will have the appropriate customs value, and the receiver is responsible for any Duty or Taxes your country charges for imports. 

Its Open Source!

This project is open source, which means all of the resources you need to build your own are online and freely available. The board files, design files, list of components, and schematics are all available. This allows you to recreate, or even improve my current design! I encourage it.

Board Layout
Board Layout



All of the information is available on my HackADay.io Page:

HackADay.io PIXO Pixel
HackADay.io PIXO Pixel


It is also on GitHub, which it where I will also be listing the Make/100 Contributors!


End User

The PIXO Pixel is a hobbyist level device meant for the advanced users who are comfortable with working with high current applications(Around 3A). Therefore, by purchasing this product you are agreeing that you understand that the PIXO Pixel still requires knowledge in programming and electronics and is not an “off the shelf” consumer product.

Each assembled unit will be tested and shipped working with simple example Firmware. It is the responsibility of the End User to understand the power limits of the device and program it accordingly to ensure safe and responsible usage.

Power Limit Disclaimer

Power Supply
Power Supply

You will require a power supply that can supply a current of 5V and 5A to the board. The board is fused for 3A continuously and can handle momentary 5A. Exceeding these limits can cause damage to the board.  Here are some suitable power supplies:




The combined individual current consumption of these LEDs at full brightness(all on and White) is capable of pulling over 10A. The size of this circuit board is not capable of dissipating that much heat(5V * 10A = 50W). Under normal use the panel will get warm to the touch if illuminating a lot of LEDs at the same time. In the Arduino code I will provide, you will notice a “BRIGHTNESS” variable. I like to keep this under 30. As you go higher the more current the board will take. End Users must be aware of the current limits of this board.

Please Note: The End User is responsible for sourcing a suitable power supply for the PIXO Pixel. I am not liable for any damages by, or to, the unit or otherwise, through improper powering of the PIXO Pixel.

Whats Left?

Not much! I just need this Kickstarter to Finish and then I can order the boards. The Kickstarter will end near the end of February. Then it takes two weeks to get the Funding from Kickstarter. Then order the boards, components, parts and Assemble! I’m giving myself plenty of time to finish them just in case there are any delays on shipping and things like that. If it is anything like last year, I will be finishing early!

Two Previous Successful Kickstarters

I have already completed two very successful Kickstarters:

Five Dollar Fidget Spinner – 3254 Backers!

ESP Everywhere Make/100 – 136 Backers!

Both were solely managed by me(with a lot of help from my Girlfriend!). There were no real issues and I was able to stay on track with my deadlines give or take a week or two. I’m still taking in knowledge every day but I have definitely already learned a lot about what it takes to complete a Kickstarter smoothly.

Here are some of my Past Projects:

Last Year’s Successful Make/100 – “ESP Everywhere”:


Arduino YouTube Button:



ESP8266 Christmas Ornament:


Arduino POV Fidget Spinner:

You can see how these, and many more projects were created on my YouTube Channel.

Read more…

  • Got any news, tips or want to contact us directly? Email esistme@gmail.com


This article and images were originally posted on [kickstarter.com] February 1, 2018 at 12:40PM. Credit to Author and kickstarter.com | ESIST.T>G>S Recommended Articles Of The Day




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