My goal is to create a single-colour LED matrix display to show world times for several cities - e.g.:

Sydney        22:55        London        11:55        Tokyo        08:55

I saw that I can pickup the actual display fairly cheaply on eBay - for example 64x16 red LED matrix display for $40:


So size-wise, something like the above is probably suitable. However, I still need to obviously drive it.

I can code in Python, but not really in C++ - hence I figured a Raspberry Pi might be easier than an Arduino to get this project running.

Also, ideally, I'd like to have a NTP client running to sync time, and I figured that'd be easier on the Pi as well.

My understanding is that I can either use the GPIO ports on the Pi to drive it, or connect it through to an Arduino which then drives it.

I know there's a Pi-Lite module that's meant to make this sort of thing trivially easy on a Raspberry Pi:


However, this is only available in a fairly small-sized version, which wouldn't be suitable for a wall clock.

I wish there was a physically larger version, but I can't find anything.

Are there any other similarly easy ways to drive a large-ish display (e.g. 64x16) LED display from a Raspberry Pi?

Or any good walkthrough guides targeted at a beginner?

  • \$\begingroup\$ hi, i need to do the same using my arduino. Did you find how to do it? \$\endgroup\$
    – VAAA
    Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 3:40

2 Answers 2


That 64 x 16 display has 74HC245 74HC595 74HC138 74HC04 APM4953 type driver ICs. I.E. it is a shift register based board, with all the power and driving circuitry on board. Only thing it needs is a SPI or Bit-Banged gpio output. There are a bunch of RPI Shift Register projects, a google search will point out a ton.

A better and easier option is really a serial (or usb-serial) display. THey are bigger, and use a simple serial connection to work (you might need a ttl to rs232 adaptor).

  • \$\begingroup\$ Aha, that's interesting - do you know of any large-size USB/Serial displays that would work on a Pi. I did see this Kickstarter - kickstarter.com/projects/558452768/ledgoes - but they don't seem to be available yet. Are there any others you know of? \$\endgroup\$
    – user37872
    Commented Feb 27, 2014 at 4:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ @user37872 commercial displays with serial or "driverless usb" or usb with drivers for the common pl2303 or similar usb-to-serial adaptors have very simple protocols that can be ported or already have been ported for linux. \$\endgroup\$
    – Passerby
    Commented Feb 28, 2014 at 1:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hmm, I've tried Googling, and I can't seem to find these displays - any chance you could give me a hint, or a link to an example, and then I can go from there please? \$\endgroup\$
    – user37872
    Commented Mar 5, 2014 at 10:07

Here's an adafruit tutorial that might be useful.


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