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SmartMatrix SmartLED Shield for Teensy 4

by Adafruit

So you have a fresh and fancy Teensy 4 and an RGB LED Matrix Panel and you want an easy way to add graphics to your matrix without having to toss aside your Teensy or do too much soldering. Enter the SmartMatrix SmartLED Shield for Teensy 4!

The SmartLED Shield gives you an easy way to connect up a Teensy 4 or a Teensy 4.1 to one of our RGB LED Matrix Panels. The example sketches included with the SmartMatrix Library will get you started quickly displaying graphics, patterns, or even animated GIFs from a microSD card on your panel.

The SmartMatrix library for Arduino makes it easy to draw basic graphics, create scrolling and static text, draw beautiful patterns using FastLED, and play animated GIFs on the panel. Example code is provided so you can get started as quickly as possible. The Shield and library use special features and peripherals of the Teensy 4 processor to send graphics data to your display with minimal CPU usage, so you can use the processor to do other tasks in parallel such as SPI communication, file decoding, or complex rendering.

Using SmartLED Shield with SmartMatrix library and the Teensy 4 is the easiest way to drive high-quality and high pixel count graphics to RGB LED panels with a microcontroller. Use a simple API to tell the library what to draw on the screen, and the library takes care of refreshing in the background. Advanced features like these are enabled automatically:

  • 36-bit Color Refresh - See the full-color range in the image or pattern you're displaying, with no noticeable brightness steps when dimming pixels down to black. Up to 48-bit color refresh is available.
  • Color (Gamma) Correction - Your source graphics are probably 24-bit color, but SmartMatrix library applies automatic color correction so they have good contrast, smooth gradients, and don't look washed out.
  • Global Brightness Control - When you don't need the full brightness of the LED panel, lower the brightness without having to sacrifice color depth of your graphics.

The shield is easy to assemble and connect to a panel, and there’s no soldering required beyond adding pins to the Teensy. The Teensy is removable, so you can swap between the 4.0 and 4.1 if you want. All long edge Teensy signals are brought out to expansion rows for easy prototyping.


  • Ease-of-use:
    • SmartLED Shield is fully assembled. If your Teensy has pins, then no soldering is required.
    • Teensy can easily be inserted into and removed from the shield.
    • SmartMatrix library for Arduino provides an easy development platform, along with others such as FastLED.
    • Example code is included for a quick start.
  • Flexibility:
    • Drives displays with up 9k pixels (e.g. 96 x 96) with high-quality settings, and even larger displays with reduced quality settings.
    • Signals on the long edges of the Teensy are brought out to expansion rows for easy prototyping.
    • The 4-pin JST-SM connector may be used to provide power to the Teensy separate from the USB connector.
    • Optionally drive DotStar/APA102-compatible LEDs using the onboard 5 volt buffers and 4-pin JST-SM connector. Mating JST-SM cable is included.
    • Panels can be daisy-chained to make large, bright, high-resolution displays.
    • Drives all 14 signals on HUB75 panels using 5V buffered outputs, using only 9 GPIO pins on the Teensy 4.0 or 4.1.
  • Quality:
    • Provides up to a 240 Hz refresh rate.
    • Up to 48-bit color refresh is available.
    • Color (gamma) correction, and global brightness control features allow for a high level of visual quality control.


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