Waveshare's ESP32-S3-Matrix Pairs a Dual-Core Espressif Microcontroller with an RGB LED Matrix

Taking up as small a footprint as possible, this breadboard-friendly smart display includes an onboard IMU for animation control.

Gareth Halfacree
1 month agoHW101 / Displays

Embedded and hobbyist electronics specialist Waveshare has launched a new development board based around Espressif's ESP32-S3 system-on-chip — and featuring an 8×8 matrix of individually-addressable RGB LEDs on its reverse.

"ESP32-S3-Matrix is a compact microcontroller development board with multiple digital interfaces, such as 20× GPIO [General-Purpose Input/Output] pin headers, and [an] onboard 8×8 RGB LED matrix, which can be used for displaying cool RGB LED effects or simple images," Waveshare says of its latest development board design. "In terms of software, you can choose the ESP-IDF development environment or develop on the Arduino IDE, and you can easily get started with it and apply it to your projects."

Brought to our attention by CNX Software, the new board is built around Espressif's ESP32-S3 — launched prior to its move to using RISC-V cores in its microcontrollers, giving it a pair of Tensilica Xtensa LX7 cores running at up to 240MHz, 512kB of static RAM (SRAM), 384kB of on-die ROM, 16kB of SRAM in the real-time clock, and 4MB of additional flash, along with 2.4GHz IEEE 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) radios.

Waveshare has installed this chip on a compact breadboard-friendly development board which features 17 GPIO pins exposed to 0.1"-spaced pin headers at either side and a USB Type-C connector for data and power.

An onboard inertial measurement unit can be used drive animations on the LED matrix. (📹: Waveshare)

Flip the board over, though, and you see its main feature: the 8×8 RGB LED matrix, taking up almost the whole of the board's reverse side — and with a digital-out (Dout) test pad at the rear for extending the matrix. There's also a QST Corp. QMI8658C inertial measurement unit (IMU), offering a three-axis gyroscope and a three-axis accelerometer.

The board is now available to order on the Waveshare store at $8.99 before volume discounts, with more information available in the Waveshare wiki.

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