Ah, Colorduino Debut !

We have RGB LED matrix in iStore, but have not the RGB LED driver board to drive them. Many customers buy them and use with the Rainbowduino, which it’s basis on Arduino. It’s really a cool design which make it so easy to drive the RGB LED matrix, you don’t need to know much about the driver circuit but just use the Arduino IDE you can make many beautiful display.

The Rainbowduino said that it support 4096 colors (even 32768 colors), the Rainbowduino using the software to simulate PWM for make up the different color level, it looks like a good idea but in fact it is consuming resources and not inaccurate. Also it’s difficult to correct the color deviation.

We decided to make  a more professional driver platform for RGB LED matrix which drive the LEDs by hardware PWM and with software color deviation correction, so now the Colorduino comes out.

Colorduino be designed to compatible with Rainbowduino as much as possible, also easy plug and shine – you don’t need to care about the circuit. Even we use the same IIC, UART interface as Rainbowduino, try connect them in series and they should work together. We hope that we can provide you the Colorduino APP which also compatible with Rainbowduino’s , so you don’t need to modify any code in master to control the LED platform.

The Colorduino is basis on ATMega 168P/328P, the same as Rainbowduino. This design is to make user easily modify or write the firmware of Colorduino by Arduino IDE. But in order to better drive the RGB matrix and reach their best performance, we use the professional LED driver chip, and this chip comprises shift registers, data latches, 8×3 channel constant current and 64 x 256 gray level PWM for per color! Each channel provide a maximum current of 60 mA.

Each RGB dot has 256×256×256  = 16,777,216 colours (16 million) in theory, and it’s easy to use the 6bit correction register to calibrate the current error for each color LEDs – we don’t think that Rainbowduino use an adjustable resistors to calibrate the current error is a good idea, because just 1 lap the resistor change from 0R to1K , you cannot get the exact value you need, but now, you have a 6bit software value to correct it.

We will release more information about Colorduino in next post, now we has finished the hardware design and making some software job. It will in stock after the Spring Festival, now we are still thinking that what color for the official version : )

Responses to “Ah, Colorduino Debut !

  1. Hey,
    This looks really cool. I have only played with the Rainbowduino and Sparkfun matrices so far. Do you have a price for it yet?

  2. Hi there!
    I just got myself a beautiful colorduino, but what if I want to drive high power (let’s say 10w) LEDs?
    How exactly should I connect transistors between the 2X16pin socket and my 32 ‘big’ wires?
    Thanks for helping me

  3. Re : Colorduino
    I want to buy colorduino for your new project. But, have some questions on this model. Could you help me to solve problems.
    1. The Colorduino can running by themself or need to include Arduino to running?
    2. How to input the firmware into the Colorduino? Direct input from PC or with Arduino , please advise.
    3. If write the data to Colorduino is required Arduino board. Please advise the details of the Arduino to connect the Colorduino.
    4. The Colorduino without USB interface for input data. Could you tell me How can write in the program into Colorduino.
    Thank you for your help.

  4. @Ken
    The Colorduino itself is a standalone unit. You don’t need another Arduino to use it. However you need a way to programm the Colorduino, and another Arduino might be handy to do that (see Answer 2-4.)
    There are two ways to Programm the Colorduino:
    a) Using a USB to UART board.
    There are these tiny breakout boards with an FT232xx Chip on it that allow you to use the Colorduino just like a normal Arduino. Here is an example board, but it’s rather expensive -> https://www.sparkfun.com/products/718?
    It’s probably much cheaper to get on from a chinese Ebay seller.
    Artiklenr. 180962172801 for example.
    However if you already own an Arduino (pre Leonardo) it might already have an FT232xx chip on board that can be used in the same way. The trick is to lift out the AVR (ATmega) chip out of it’s socket and connect the repective pins (on the socket) to the UART connector of the Colorduino.
    The process is described here in greater detail: http://www.instructables.com/id/Lampduino-an-8×8-RGB-Floor-Lamp/step16/Programming-the-Colorduino/
    b) Using a real ISP programmmer
    You can use pretty much use any Atmel ISP programmer (USBtinyISP, or Arduino) to get the Arduino bootloader inside the Colorduino. I would assume, that the Colorduino already comes preprogrammed with the bootloader tho. If not you may have to programm the bootloder inside the Colorduino before you can use methode a) to programm it over USB with the FT232xx board.
    Anyway the Colorduino has a 6-Pin ISP header, and that can be used to connect an ISP programmer to program the bootloader inside the Colorduino.
    Here is some info how to use an Arduino as an ISP programmer
    Sorry I hope these answers guide you in the right direction. I may slap together a more detailed guide on how to do this, but at the moment I am short on time.

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  6. Pingback: Trying out my new Colorduino v2.0 – first impressions and tips | Martin Falatic’s Techno Blog

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