CoderBoards Aims to Introduce Newcomers to Arduino — with a Colorful ESP32-Controlled Matrix Board

Featuring 100 RGB LEDs, this carrier board ties in to a live-coding website with animation previews, code sharing, and more.

Gareth Halfacree
4 months agoHW101 / Lights

Pseudonymous maker "boolalpha" has put together an LED matrix board and companion website, designed to encourage newcomers to get into Arduino coding — by easily converting animations into code.

"You can design an animation/image then upload directly to the board or you can design a menu that connects all your animations/images to buttons on the menu which then is hosted over your Wi-Fi," boolalpha explains of their creation, finished in eye-catching black. "The PCB board is designed to work with almost all [Espressif] ESP32 boards (they are all the same GPIO width basically)."

This 100-LED matrix board aims to bring new blood into the Arduino and ESP32 ecosystems. (📹: boolalpha)

The idea is simple: The "CoderBoard" carrier board, which has a 10×10 matrix of individually-addressable RGB LEDs, plays host to a low-cost Arduino-compatible ESP32 microcontroller board. The user then uses the "CoderBoards" website to design their animations — complete with a live preview of what it will look like on the matrix.

The wireless connectivity of the Wi-Fi controller, meanwhile, is put to use by hosting a custom-built menu system — allowing a user to modify a running animation on-the-fly. Users can find pre-written examples on the site, or share their own creations — and browse those of others.

Where other browser-based coding initiatives attempt to make it possible to flash hardware via the browser, though, the CoderBoards site uses a different approach: Files are downloaded and then loaded into the Arduino IDE, which is used to compile the code and flash the ESP32.

More information on the project is available on the official website, while boards are available to order via Etsy for $29.99 or $38.99 with bundled ESP32 microcontroller. Its creator, meanwhile, has pledged on Reddit to publish the source code on GitHub "soon."

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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