We've had eyes on the gang over at Lixie Labs for a little while now.
We've previously covered the Pixie — a programmable, daisy-chainable serially interfaced pixel display — and it's clear that makers just couldn't get enough of a good thing.
PIxie was a popular product, and where there is popularity such as that, it's not long before progress comes knocking, pushing forward with a design, and producing more popular, derivative products.
In the year that has passed since last October, when we first covered the Pixie, a lot has happened.
After Pixie, came the Pixie PRO — an up-revision on the original Pixie hardware — replacing the somewhat expensive, and increasingly harder to source third-party LED matrix displays with in-house designed panels — a logical evolution in the path of the hardware.
And while many other parts have similarly become increasingly scarce over the past year — I couldn't find any suitable dual, co-packaged N-channel FETs in stock at Digi-Key last night, for example...😬 — some parts, like smart RGB pixels, still remain stocked our workbenches and in our inventories
And thankfully, while not only being physically obtainable, one of the recent trends in LED development has paved the way for what could be the most perfect Pixie yet...
One very popular theme that LED manufacturers far and wide have started to throw some light upon is that of "smart" RGB LEDs.
While we all know and recognize the ubiquitous WS2812b-5050 parts from many a maker project, not all of us are up to speed on the progress of the path of miniaturization of these parts...!
With everyone's favorite WS281x chipset now commonly available in EC20 / 2020 packaging — that's 2.0mm^2! — it's still hard to believe that these smart pixels exist in even smaller packages.
While the EC10 (yup, 1mmsquare 🤯) APA-104 is the smallest we've seen to date, we've not actually...seen any. They are freshly announced, and as of time of writing, pretty much straight up unobtanium.
Somewhere between the two, sits the more commonly available SK6805-EC15 — a tiny little speck of a digitally addressable RGB pixel.
For some perspective, check out this (extended) family photo below, with a WS2812b-5050, a APA102-2020, and finally, the absolutely miniscule SK6805-1515!
So, when a supply chain nightmare leaves little else available other than some super-small smart LEDs, it seems like the perfect time for Lixie Labs to perhaps look at producing what could possible be the most perfect Pixie yet; the Pixie CHROMA!
Wow, now that's a demo reel!
With a dual banks of 5x7 LEDs, each CHROMA display boasts a whopping 70 RGB pixels, packed into module that is more than breadboard friendly!
You can get a feel for the module size by taking a peek at this jaw dropping Blender render below. Yeah, we might have to run some contests in the future — there's some very impressive photo-realistic rendering work that we are seeing from our frequent fliers over here on Hackster News.
Did we mention that this is a render?! We just have to include this gorgeous "macro shot". The attention to detail is just incredible!
As with previous Pixies, there is a complete Arduino library available, that provides some pretty powerful animation capabilities.
Being able to control the pixel bitmap data, and the color mapping of the whole pixel display independently is a nice touch, and simplifies a lot of the typical operations that you might otherwise find stuck needing to code yourself!
With a target price of $17.99, the Pixie CHROMA modules look like a great option for anywhere you need to pack some powerful pixel punch into a pint-sized project!
Be sure to follow @LixieLabs on Twitter, where you can keep tabs on the soon to be launched crowdfunding campaign, allowing you to be some of the first to get your mitts on this micro RGB LED display!