Adafruit's Matrix Portal Packs a SAM D51, Wi-Fi, and Accelerometer for Easy Large-Scale RGB Art

USB Type-C-powered board offers Arduino and CircuitPython compatibility via the ProtoMatter library.

The Matrix Portal is designed to piggyback onto LED matrix boards. (πŸ“·: Adafruit)

UPDATE (9/28/2020): Adafruit has now released technical details of the upcoming Matrix Portal, a PyPortal variant designed for developing electronic art using RGB matrix displays and CircuitPython.

The Matrix Portal board, the company has confirmed, is compatible with HUB-75 compatible RGB LED matrix displays in sizes from 16x32 to 64x64. Its ATSAMD51J19 processor includes 512kB of flash storage and 192kB of static RAM (SRAM), while Wi-Fi connectivity is handled by an ESP32 coprocessor. USB Type-C is used for power and data, with an I2C STEMMA QT connector for external hardware, a JST 3-pin connector with analog in and out, an LIS3DH accelerometer, two user interface buttons, and GPIO breakouts including an addition four analog outputs, pulse-width modulation (PWM), and SPI support.

In addition to support Adafruit's CircuitPython, a customized port of MicroPython designed for education, the Matrix Portal will also be programmable from the Arduino IDE version 1.8 or above, the company has confirmed. Full details on using the board in either language can be found on the Adafruit learning portal.

The Matrix Portal will launch at $24.95, without an RGB matrix; to be notified when the board goes live for sale, sign up on the Adafruit website.

Original article continues below.

Adafruit has teased a new entry in the PyPortal family, combining Wi-Fi connectivity with the Microchip SAM D51 and support for RGB matrix displays: the Matrix Portal.

"I'm testing out some new prototypes I just got," Adafruit's Lady Ada explains in a short video for the new board. "This is a new board called the Matrix Portal and it's got a SAM D51, an ESP32 AirLift, logic level shifters, accelerometer, some buttons, USB-C power, and it plugs into the back of an RGB matrix."

"It's also got a STEMMA QT port, breakouts, and some other stuff. You can see that it's got the accelerometer built in to make really easy LED sand projects. So far this prototype's working really well!"

The Matrix Portal is designed primarily with LED artwork projects in mind β€” "huge displays and clocks," the company explains β€” and comes with Arduino and CircuitPython compatibility via the PaintYourDragon ProtoMatter library.

Thus far, Adafruit has not indicated a launch date for the board β€” but more information can be found on the official blog.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire:
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