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Charlieplex LED Shield Kit Tutorial

Product Description:


The Charlieplex LED Shield Kit connects 20 red LEDs to the Digispark development board. The LEDs can be controlled through charlieplexing, using rapid changes to make it appear that many are on at one time. This will allow the LEDs to display messages, animations, and more.

This is an unassembled kit and requires basic soldering. This is designed for use with the Digispark development board, which is not included.


Part Quantity Identification
LED Shield PCB1
3mm Red LED20
47 (47R) Ohm 1/4W resistor 5% 5 Yellow - Violet - Black
1x40pin male 0.1“ pitch header 9 pins worth

Soldering: If you are new to soldering we recommend the following tutorials: Soldering Basics ( and Soldering Crash Course from the folks at Sparkfun ( How to solder from the Curious Inventor:

Adafruit has this excellent guide that starts with the tools needed and then shows detailed pictures, including some of the common problems that beginners experience (

We assume for these assembly instructions that you know the basics of thru-hole soldering. If you don't check out the links above, these boards are very easy to solder - we promise!


Empty kit bag (or if using a raw PCB, aquire parts) and verify contents. Note for Kickstarter Backers and Pre-orders: Headers are not included in each kit bag, but the entire order came with more than enough headers for all kits.


Insert a resistor. Solder the leads and clip off the excess. Repeat for remaining resistors.


Insert an LED, ensuring the longer lead goes into the hole with the + sign next to it. Solder the leads and clip off the excess. Repeat for remaining LEDs.

Note: The array will look better if all of the LEDs are properly aligned. This is most easily done by inserting all of LEDs in a column of four, then soldering just one of the leads of each LED. You can then gently press on the LED while reheating the solder joint, which will seat the LED flat against the board. Once you have a column aligned, solder the other LED leads in the column and clip them.

(Since the lead spacing is much smaller across the 5-LED rows than the 4-LED columns, it's easier to work along the shorter columns. You may accidentally fill adjacent lead holes with solder if you work across rows.)


Cut a length of male headers 6 pins long and one 3 pins long. Insert into corresponding positions (on the bottom of the board) and solder each pin.


Tip: Inseting the headers into a breadboard and then placing the board on top can make this process easier.

Note: If you are using stackable headers, use them here instead of the standard male headers.

The concept for this kit was introduced to us by Sparr, one of our Kickstarter backers.


A basic demo sketch is included with the Digispark Arduino Addon package. We hope that Sparr or other members of the community will contribute a working library to make it easier to use.

digispark/tutorials/led.txt · Last modified: 2016/06/09 12:03 (external edit)