Controlling large LED grid


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I'm working on a hobby project that involves controlling a very large number of LEDs. Our display is a matrix of tiles, where each tile is a 60 led strip. Currently we are planning to do a grid of 12x18 tiles (12960 leds). We are using ws2812b leds.

The led tiles are connected to pressure sensors and the lighting should be responsive to a change in the sensor. I'm currently using an ESP32 with the FastLED library to control the leds (using segments, where a segment controls 4x3x3 tiles or 2160 leds). Before using segments, the animations were too slow (unusable) but after finding about this feature it's now usable (but slow).

I have begun building the prototype and have thus purchased all leds strips. I wasn't aware of Teensy 4.1 or DMA for controlling leds, but it looks like the best solution to my problem. It would provide really fast animations and lower processing time that can be used to have an increased sampling rate of the sensors.

I would like to switch to using a Teensy for my project but I think there are some issues that I would need to resolve.

According to, I can only control 1365 per pin. Due to how everything is wired this would be a problem since we have blocks of 2160 leds. I could do some rewiring to control half (1080) leds per pin in which case I would need 12 pins. The board only exposes 8 pins, but I think Teensy 4.1 can use more than 8 pins for DMA control (how many? I was not able to find this information). I guess I could either use a bigger adaptor board (with three ethernet sockets) if it exists or use two teensy in SYNC mode.

Is there a way to control 2160 leds with a single pin in a very fast way? Maybe not as fast as DMA but still faster than the ESP32? I only need a limited number of colors, not sure if this could be exchanged to increase the number of leds...

In hindsight I made a mistake when choosing a 60 led strip for each tile, since all 60 will always be the same color. I could not find a better solution at the time. I guess designing my own led strips / boards would be the ideal solution but I'm not sure I could make it economically viable and I don't have the knowledge to do so. I am not sure if it's possible but I might as well ask just in case: Is there any resonable way to convert the 60 LED strip into a single pixel via some (cheap) hardware? I guess this should be possible but I could not find a commercial board that does this. This would simplify everything a lot.

Anyway I wish I had found out about Teensy 4.1 sooner, then I would have designed everything differently. Please let me know if you have any advice for me!

Hello Luis.
I’m currently using 11 outputs on a board I made for 14 outputs.. I’m not sure if I chose that number because of a hardware limit but I’m pretty sure 14 will work. I only use 300 leds per strip however for what it’s worth I just compiled for 2160 leds per output and had no errors. I’ll have a look at your post a bit later but someone else is bound to provide more details. edit: I just noticed the date. Let me know if your still working on this project.
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