While it’s possible to run your Raspberry Pi headless (without a monitor), half of the fun is using the tiny PC to drive a display for videos, games, and an endless array of visual possibilities. However, one of the best screen options has to be RGB matrices. Today we’ve got a fantastic matrix project put together by Allen from Allen’s Lab, who created an impressively comprehensive dashboard (opens in new tab) for his 64 x 32 matrix.
As of writing, this is the only project over at the Allen’s Lab YouTube channel. However, the channel description indicates plans to upload more projects in the future ranging from robotics and 3D printing to coding projects from scratch.
If future projects are as feature-packed as this one, we’re definitely in for a treat. This dashboard includes many tools, including basic things like displaying the time and weather and integration with external apps like Notion, a system used for tracking to-do lists, and Spotify.
A closer look at the hardware inside indicates a Raspberry Pi 3B+ is the primary controller, but there’s no reason you couldn’t use a Raspberry Pi 4 in its stead. You can drive a matrix using something smaller like a Pico, but you'll need something a little beefier to take advantage of Allen’s feature pack. The case is 3D-printed with PETG and designed with a solid panel covering the matrix thin enough for the LEDs to shine through. The case also has a swivel feature and a tilt switch that changes the screen orientation when activated.
Allen programmed the dashboard with Python in conjunction with Hzeller’s RGB matrix library found over at GitHub (opens in new tab). Weather updates are pulled from Open Weather Map (opens in new tab), while Pushbullet handles phone notifications. The dashboard app selection is through a rotary encoder that includes a GIF player, the Game of Life, and even a YouTube subscriber counter.
If you want to recreate this Raspberry Pi project yourself, check out the demo video shared on YouTube (opens in new tab) by Allen’s Lab, and be sure to visit the project’s official GitHub (opens in new tab) page.