ShiftTrix, An Arduino Powered Marquee. Design Log

Posted in Projects by Bill
6 Sep 2010
ShiftTrix, An Arduino Powered Marquee. Design Log

I’ve set out designing what I’d like to call ShiftTrix, a Arduino powered Marquee. The idea is this, low cost LED matrix driver boards that are easy to work with at (hopefully) around $10 a board including the LED matrix itself.  A similar serial driven LED matrix can go for $35 per 8×8 matrix. That can add up fast if you want to chain more then one together for a large display. Instead, my design is 1/3 the price, and can easily be chained together to create larger displays.

The pictures in the post show version 1 with a red/green LED matrix. My goal was to have a single PCB design that can act as a ‘slave’ or as the ‘master’. The master is the board with an Atmega 328 that drives all the boards in the chain. The master also has a 5V 2A voltage regulator circuit to power the entire chain.

As you can see in the pictures, I have version 1 running with an Arduino Duemilanove standing in as the master. I’ve started redesigning for version 2, and I think  I’m going to stray away from a single design PCB, so that the board size can shrink to fit it all behind the LED matrix. But this may drive up the price point. My plans are to open source that hardware design when I’m done, and maybe even selling kits to build your own.

I’d like community input for what you would like to see in a product like this, and if the price point is right. Please feel free to leave comments.


Had some issues with noise on the power rail. I had to add capacitors to every slave board to sort it out. New video of it’s first words:


Version 2 of the design is in, biggest change is everything fits behind matrix now, no more board sticking out. Pictures of that soon.

But for now, some dancing robots:


New photos of a V2 slave board. Notice it all fits behind the matrix now. Not sure I like the cap sticking out the back, but I don’t know what else to do with it.


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  1. 39 Comments.

    • ThomasNo Gravatar says:

      I am interested in a large matrix. I think I need 64×128 RGB. I am interested in simple design, self-contained window signs that can be seen from 30 foot.

      I am no expert, but I believe this size is still a little small. It’s a start though for my application.

      This configuration needs an 8×16 matrix of array of 64 LED boards. Is this type of thing feasible?

      Thanks for your input…

    • AntonioNo Gravatar says:

      I would like to have and led sign where i can trigger messages by an external switch or a combination of them, do think it will be a good idea using an arduino?

    • WilliamNo Gravatar says:

      These are definitely cool, any chance I could get my hands on some? I am a college engineering student and need something like this to connect a few of the LED matrices together.

    • John PughNo Gravatar says:

      Dear Bill,
      I came across your ShiftTrix, an Arduino powered Marquee article during a search whilst experimenting with a matrix display board made by the Annikken Andee Team. I was looking for a scrolling display module of more than two 8×8 LED Matrix displays and I came across yours. The online article was dated 6 September 2010 so it’s five or so years old by now but are you still involved with the module you designed at that time? I would be very interested in buying some of your linkable LED Modules if they are available. I would be most grateful if you could let me know if it is at all possible for this to happen. I live at the city of Cardiff in the UK. Many thanks for writing such a lot interesting material for the likes of me to read! Best regards, John

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