Getting Started with the SmartLED Shield for Teensy

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Contributors: bboyho
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Hardware Overview

Teensy Footprint

The SmartLED shield makes it easy to connect to RGB LED matrix panels. As opposed to wiring to 16 pins on the RGB LED matrix panel, you simply sandwich the shield between a Teensy and the IDC connector! The top of the board is where you would insert the Teensy populated with straight headers. The bottom of the shield includes female headers to make a secure connection.

Teensy Footprint (Top View) Teensy Footprint (Bottom View)
Teensy Footprint (Top View) Teensy Footprint (Bottom View)

Adjacent to the Teensy footprint are additional pins that are broken out for easy access for prototyping or soldering wires directly to the shield.

Teensy Pins Broken Out (Top View) Teensy Pins Broken Out (Bottom View)
Teensy Pins Broken Out (Top View) Teensy Pins Broken Out (Bottom View)

For more information about the reserved pins on the SmartLED matrix shield, check out the image below for the pins that are used to drive the RGB LED matrix panel and APA102 LEDs.

Reserved Teensy Pins

Image Courtesy of PJRC and PixelMatix

IDC Connector

The shield breaks out the RGB LED matrix panel's IDC pins. Simply align the silkscreen with the panel's input and stack it on like a backpack. As an alternative, you can use an IDC cable and the included 2x8 long, centered header pins. Just make sure to align the cable's red wire with the silkscreen labeled RED WIRE.

IDC Connector (Top View) IDC Connector (Bottom View)
IDC Connector (Top View) IDC Connector (Bottom View)

APA102 LED

The shield includes additional 4-pin JST SM connector pair to connect a strip or matrix of APA102 LEDs from the SmartLED Shield.

APA102 JST SM Connected to the SmartLED Shield

Removable Mounting Holes

The shield includes mounting holes by each corner of the board. They can be used to to mount the shield when using the IDC cable. They are held to the rest of the board with mouse bites. Each of the mounting holes can be removed using pliers. The image below shows highlights the mounting holes with red lines along the mousebites.

Mousebites highlighted on the SmartLED Shield

ADDX Pins and Logic Levels

Certain panels may require 5V logic levels, which may not be enough with the Teensy's output pins. While you can try to wire all 16 pins from the Teensy to the IDC cable, it is not the most reliable connection. The panel may flicker or fail to display properly. The SmartLED shield was designed to include level shifting buffers to safely and reliably control the RGB LED matrix panels.

Level Shifting Buffers Highlighted on the SmartLED Shield for Teensy