A 336-Digit 7-Segment Matrix Display

Chris Combs' Road Ahead features a large, handmade array of small numeric displays that show a sequence of numbers.

Jeremy S. Cook
10 months agoDisplays / Art

After sourcing 0.3" SMD 7-segment displays, artist Chris Combs decided that he could use these units to form a pixel grid. Like most projects, inspiration is only a small part of the battle — about 1% according to Thomas Edison — but after more than a year of work he did indeed produce beautiful artwork with 336 of these LED digits. The piece, named "Road Ahead," runs on a Raspberry Pi 3 and is powered by 14 display panels with corresponding ISI IS31FL3733 controllers.

Road Ahead is programmed in Cython — a sort of hybrid Python-like language with some C functionality for better performance — and reacts to observers in the room via an occupancy sensor. When movement is detected, it fades from showing random numbers into a driving scene taken from behind the wheel.

Everything is housed inside a metallic enclosure meant to evoke feelings of some sort of ominous mainframe pumping out data about who knows what. LEDs are concealed behind smoked acrylic, providing a very professional appearance, though an earlier iteration see here featured a wooden enclosure and no acrylic. While certainly less finished, it did give a better view of the LEDs themselves.

Either way, it's an epic project that should bring enjoyment to those who see it!

Jeremy S. Cook
Engineer, maker of random contraptions, love learning about tech. Write for various publications, including Hackster!
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