Building a small LED matrix display is a fun electronics project that allows you to create custom animations, graphics, and text effects. With just a handful of common components, I can make an LED display capable of showing pixelated images in a compact form factor.

In this comprehensive guide, I will cover everything you need to know to build your own miniature LED matrix on a budget.

Components Needed

To build an LED matrix display, you will need the following components:


The LEDs produce the light for each pixel in the display. Smaller LEDs allow for higher resolution and more pixels in a compact size.


Matrix Perfboard

Shift Registers


Power Supply

Wires, Solder, Hardware

Circuit Design

The overall circuit design consists of the microcontroller, shift registers, LED matrix, and resistors:


Shift Registers

LED Matrix


Mechanical Assembly

Constructing the physical circuit requires some mechanical assembly:

Mounting the Perfboard

Soldering the LEDs

Connecting the Electronics

Programming the Microcontroller

The microcontroller code generates the animations and outputs the control signals. Some key aspects:

Image Data Array

Shift Register Serial Output

Animation Timing

User Input

Example Animations

Here are some examples of fun animations you can program:

The small resolution is ideal for retro style games and art. With some coding skills, you can create tons of cool effects!

Low-Cost Options

Here are some tips for keeping the cost down:

You can build a basic matrix display for under $20 worth of parts with some resourcefulness. The hardware is inexpensive - the real value is in the custom animations you can create!


Building an LED matrix display with a microcontroller is an achievable electronics project for hobbyists. With common components, you can construct a compact pixel screen to show any graphics and text animations you can program. Following this guide, you now have all the knowledge to build your own mini LED matrix on a budget and start creating awesome visualizations!