Use cases for the LED Matrix module

We’re starting a thread to collect ideas for ways to use the LED Matrix module. It has a 9x34 matrix of LEDs that can be controlled with 256 levels of brightness, and it can run animations at a reasonably high framerate. This makes it a very low resolution general purpose display. The usefulness of a display depends entirely on what you put on it though. You can see some of the initial functionality that Daniel in our Firmware team has created in the README:

We’d love to hear what would be most useful and interesting to you though to inform our development roadmap.


Perhaps this is a bit obvious but replacing the task bar would I think be nice for increasing screen size and when using full screen applications. The readme mentions clocks and sound, but you’d also want wifi and battery. Possibly also assignable program specific binary ids per row on one module so you’d know what programs are running and in which position on task bar. All of these to be displayed at once.

Other types of meters such as power drain, fps measurements, things you might want to see the values of without having to switch to an alternate window to view them.

Maybe a binary calculator (or just a normal one if resolution is high enough). (Edit: Also timers / alarms / stop watches) (Edit 2: To clarify, meters / timers / etc using a column or two of pixels to show approximate percentages or using binary numbers)


a mastodon client, displaying certain hashtags.

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A system load/resource monitor. Be able to show some or all of the following as a horizontal or vertical bar with different colours etc:

  • CPU Load
  • Memory Load
  • SSD throughput
  • SSD activity indicators
  • Battery charge level
  • Network throughput
  • Network activity indicators

Other thing would be external status signals from other devices or home automation platforms. For example I would love to have pixels tied to states from MQTT topics. Be able to see at a glance if:

  • all the doors at home are closed. a row of all dim green lights
  • a door is open but the house is disarmed, that door goes bright green
  • a door is open and the house is armed, that door goes bright red/flashes red

Or any other state/sensor.


Since its very low res, i would put additional to @Matthew_Quarisa ideas:

  • the current volume level of the OS
  • WPM display in form of multiple up and down bars showing recent or current speed
  • Current QMK Layer for keyboard through small symbols or color
  • Status of active keyboard switches like NUM, CAPS or LOCK

Basically everything which could be a status indicator to see the current state of my FW16. If you feel really fancy i would like to have ping pong minigame on it with 2 player mode (which would show the capabalities of the modules to its full extent). Left and right module are the view of each player and keys like AS and KL could be the input keys for it.


I think it would be neat to be able to configure it to show fairly standard things.
CPU Temp
Battery % or bar scale
CPU/GPU Utilization % or bar scale
A timer that when set would count down on the matrix

As for games and fun stuff:
Really basic pinball maybe?
Audio VU meter which could be set to react to either input (from a mic) or output.
Generic animations (dot slowly running around the perimeter, falling dots sort of simulating the falling text in The Matrix, stuff like that).


Binary-coded clock with an option to for decimal or sexagesimal.

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I like that idea. Could also be used for a Pomodoro timer.


Just a reminder that:

  1. This is extremely low resolution. 9x34 “pixels”
  2. It’s greyscale, so no color

Always on display (low watt consumption is key, maybe cache some simple info and update at user defined intervals) Showing user defined rolling notifications like the one on your phone.

Stock ticker
Cheat sheets
Word of the day, definitions

I think there is a lot of uses for that reasonable real estate that people have already included above.
Is there a way instead to make its use more user programmable simple coding blocks that folks can snap together to result in supper basic actions (e.g. Apple shortcuts).

How about setting up some bar graphs, say one for each CPU thread, or maybe just one for total CPU activity, one for disk activity, one for network activity, one for battery charge (appreciate it will only show while system is on), one for battery charge rate, can’t think of anything else at the moment.

Things like CPU, disk and network activity update at suitable fast rate, maybe with two intensities to show peak and average. Things like battery charge and charge rate update at 10-30 seconds per update.

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Tetris, breakout, space invaders (dot as alien, shot, and controller - imagination required). Will add others as I think of them.

Music “waveform” in sync/in response to any sound playing on the machine.


Another vote for the simplest measures requested above:

  • Clock
  • charging status (e.g. watts in)
  • Battery level %
  • CPU load %
  • Memory load %
  • Temperature for any available internal sensors.

and nice to have

  • Temperature/Weather
  • Sunset time
  • Timer/stopwatch/etc.

For myself, my initial plan is to have it display the OS I’ve booted. I hope to hack up rEFInd to be able to show my selection there. Failing that, I’ll have each OS update it as early in the boot as possible.

Most things I expect would be handier on screen in a panel so I don’t need to look away from the monitor for the information… in my mind, it’s for things you may want to know from across the room and/or when the screen is locked… so I can see time and date being somewhat useful.

Please GPU temps (enthusiast gamers care) ;). This can just be a number which should be possible to show. CPU temps could be shown as well, as space would probably permit two numbers, one on top and one at the bottom.

And otherwise yes, Tetris is a bit obvious.


Oh man I didn’t think I needed the LED Matrix until this post… Definitely need all of these.

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Another vote for CPU/GPU graphs, including: load, memory usage, and temps.

Clock and weather would be nice to have too. I mean, if I have a laptop I might actually go outside. :laughing:

Timer can always come in handy.


Apps – Tidbyt may be a good place to look for inspiration, as it’s another LED matrix product.

Also I always imagined it would be RGB leds, I’m surprised to find out the framework matrix is only grayscale. Makes a lot of potential use cases pretty difficult.


Audio Frequency Visualizer? Like on an old-school hi-fi. Would be fun to see it light when some tunes are going.

Some kind of keyboard sensitivity reaction, perhaps a ripple effect out every time you hit a key.

I second the vote for performance graphs and battery status too.

Anything wordy will be difficult. Remember, this is a 9x34 grid! I’d wager the smallest alphabet you could make work would be 4x5, leaving you 10, maybe 12 characters unless you want it to scroll sideways. Still, I’m certain people will make it work.


I think a good one might be some music info for example a play/paused indicator, current volume, what’s playing (either app or song name) if possible a “timeline” that shows how much of the song is left

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