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Pixie Chroma

by Lixie Labs

PIXIE CHROMA is a dual-5x7 character display, that can be easily chained to create easy-to-use displays as long or tall as you'd like!

With its ability to be dropped into any breadboard and coded with any experience level, these displays have a wide range of potential uses, meaning anybody in the maker community can find a use for them!

TWO BIG NEW FEATURES

Along with full RGB control, and an absolute UNIT of an Arduino Library, Lixie Labs are introducing two other big new features with this release: Quad Mode and Shortcodes.

Quad mode is made specifically for those wishing to drive their displays faster. By optionally sending the data in four parallel streams with Quad Mode, you can expect to see a ~3.75x increase in speed! For example, if you had 12 Pixie Chromas, you can wire four GPIO of your microcontroller to the 1st, 4th, 7th, and 10th Pixie. Each GPIO is now only responsible for the data of three Pixie Chromas compared to only one GPIO feeding all 12. With this, you can run animations, scrolling, and color palettes more smoothly or free up processor time!

NOTE: Quad Mode currently uses hard-coded GPIO pins depending on your microcontroller. To see which pins are needed, visit the documentation for begin_quad().

The next big feature is Shortcodes, a super simple way to show icons beyond the alphanumeric ASCII set and easily create animations! Lixie Labs have an extensive library of 230+ built-in icons that are accessible by name within other strings. Whether you want global currency symbols, weather states, schematic symbols, diacritics (àãåâä), or various mathematical typography such as pi, they probably have you covered. And, if we don't, you can make your own with the magical Shortcode Editor.

Shortcode Editor

Our favorite part of these icons is how easy it is to make your own! With the online/offline editor, you can create any shape or image (so long as it fits in a 5x7 grid) and the editor will directly show the code that would print that shape!

This is one of the most creative outlets for cool display enthusiasts, since you can easily make custom frame-by-frame animations of your own! Lixie Labs are currently working on a way to create looping animations directly within the editor, and are excited to show it when it is complete.

A NEW STANDARD for ARDUINO LIBRARIES

Lixie Labs pride themselves in how easy their products are to use. They have kept the wiring very simple, with only three wires connected to each breadboard-friendly display. Their code also has many examples that are explained line-by-line so that anybody can understand them. They even include template Arduino Sketches to skip the parts newcomers find tedious, like #include directives and class definitions. Many advanced projects that even seasoned coders would find challenging are hassle-free with the Pixie Chroma library!

#include "Pixie_Chroma.h" // Include library
PixieChroma pix;
#define PIXIES_X 6 // Total amount and x x x x x x
#define PIXIES_Y 2 // arrangement of Pixies = x x x x x x

void setup() {
pix.begin( 13, PIXIES_X, PIXIES_Y ); // ... Use Pin 13
pix.color( CRGB::Blue ); // ............... Set color to blue
}

void loop() {
pix.clear(); // ..................... Clear display
pix.println( "Hello World!" ); // ... Write text on first row
pix.print( millis() ); // ........... Write the value of millis() on the second row
pix.show(); // ...................... Show changes
}

AMAZING DOCUMENTATION

Pixie Chroma's documentation is complete, accurate, and easy to understand. Each function in the library is fully documented and code examples are sprinkled liberally throughout.

SUPPORTED PLATFORMS

Pixie Chroma is a bit RAM heavy for its effects and color processing. 8 Pixie Chroma PCBs is 560 LEDs, so that's 1,680 bytes just for the color data! Add in the masking tricks, XY mapping and more, and you're unfortunately not going to get a set of Chromas working on an older microcontroller like the ATMega328p with only 2K of SRAM. However, more modern controllers like those from Espressif are perfectly fine! (ESP8266 has 80KiB of RAM!)

The Pixie Chroma library also uses FastLED as a dependency, so FastLED itself also needs compatibility before we can support it here. This is why the RP2040 is not yet supported. Soon!

Fully Supported Microcontrollers

  • ESP8266 (Adafruit HUZZAH, Wemos D1 Mini, etc.)
  • ESP32 / ESP32-S2 (TinyPico, HUZZAH32, TinyS2)
  • Teensy 3.x (Possibly Teensy 4.x, not yet tested)

Currently Planned Support

  • RP2040 (Needs FastLED port)
  • ESP32-S3 (Needs testing)
  • SAMD21 (TODO, has been hard to get)

Pixie Chroma is OSHWA certified (UID US002058), Lixie Labs have created an extensive datasheet, and every single function within the library comes with documentation.

FEATURES & SPECIFICATIONS

  • Dual-5x7 RGB LED matrices
  • 3.7 to 5.5 VDC supply
  • Fast bitmap control
  • 8-bit global dimming
  • 27.5 mm x 16.5 mm matrix size (10.16 PPI)
  • 30 mm x 24 mm package

SUPPORT & DOCUMENTATION

As you can see, Pixie Chroma is as easy or as advanced as you need. Luckily, you don't need to dive into documentation to get started - the included examples (File -> Examples -> Pixie_Chroma) provide a template you can easily modify for your own projects.

For further information, you can check out the:

Everything is open source and available. Our source code has been fully documented and all PCB designs and parts used are open and available:

ADDITIONAL VIDEOS:

Specs and Docs