What’s a Colorduino?
“Colorduino” is now a generic name for a whole class of arduino-based controller boards
that are designed for one purpose: to drive a fixed-size RGB matrix. Although many
Arduino controller boards can drive a whole variety of RGB matrices, the
combination of a Colorduino-type board and its custom-sized RGB matrix has at least one
distinct advantage: brightness. That makes them fun to use.
The essential technical characteristics of modern Colorduino-type boards are:
- an ATmega328P like most UNO boards;
- a configuration of the I/O pins that just “fit” a certain type of 8x8 matrix of big (5mm) bright RGB LEDs.
- the inclusion of a special driver chip (DM163) that makes it efficient to drive all 64 LEDs.
Various manufacturers give their boards different names, e.g., RGBuino, Chromaduino, ICDuino,
Funduino. These boards are interchangeable.
Pictures of the front (top) of a colorduino-type board and the RGB matrix that fits it
are shown below:
|The front of a Colorduino-type board||An 8x8 RGB matrix that fits a Coloruino board|
Colorduino-type boards do not have a USB interface, making them a little less
convenient to program. Some of them even come without even a bootloader
(a program that makes it easier to load different sketches onto the board).
The circuit page shows how to get around these limitations.
The combined cost for the board and the RGB LED matrix is about $$12-15 on eBay or other
If you don’t already have an “FT-232” type cable to connect the board
to your computer (which will be necessary in order to program it), then add another
Finally, if your Colorduino comes without a bootloader, then you’ll need to buy
another piece of equipment called a “programmer”. These also cost about $$10, and
their use is shown in the circuit page.