Possible to use a PixelBlaze as an Arduino

I’m experimenting with my first PB project, and loving the hardware. So much less stuff to deal with than an Arduino + level shifter + capacitor + resistors, etc. However, I’m still debating if the language framework will do what I need it to do.

Therefore, out of curiosity, and because I can’t find an answer elsewhere in the forums: Is it possible to use this board as an Arduino, if down the road I decide to? Would doing so brick it from ever being used as a PixelBlaze again, or would it be reversible? How would I do this?

Note: I’m fully aware this is not the “normal” or “expected” use case – but I’m sure I’m not the only person who’d consider this, given how good the board is at doing one thing, and one thing well – powering and controlling addressable LEDs.

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The ESP8266 can be reflashed, but it overwrites the Pixelblaze firmware. It can definitely run Arduino. You’ll need an external programmer, which can be made from a 3.3v usb serial adapter, and a button. You’ll need to back up the firmware first if you want to go back. Its not the easiest, but doable.

The expansion header has all of the pins necessary for flashing.

I’ve tossed around the idea of selling some programmer expansion boards. I suppose you’d be interested in this kind of thing :slight_smile:

With one of these, it works similarly to other esp8266 Arduino boards.

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I am currently playing around with your boards and the 2D Matrix options for it versus FastLED and XYMatrix for the same thing – there’s a lot of things that are SO MUCH better on your board from a physical design POV:

  • The ability to run a full 1.8A at 5v through the USB power out to the pixels, which means you don’t need to wire things separately, or include a big capacitor.
  • Everything running at 5v for data out, so you don’t need level shifting or other complexities.
  • The really nice screw terminals.
  • The really simple sensor expansion board.

And so on. But I’m not sure I’m going to be able to give up the FastLED community examples and sample programs for what I’m trying to do, a few other details.

Even if I don’t use it on my main coat project right now, it was so quick and easy to get up and running I’ll use at least one of the boards on a much simpler project for Burning Man as well!!

For sure. FastLED is an awesome library, and Pixelblaze can’t do everything (yet). Mainly I went my own route for live coding, HDR (16 bits), RGBW (though I hear support for that is being worked on this very moment), and wanted a better editor.

It’s possible to port code between the 2 platforms, and many contributed patterns originate from fastLED.

There’s plenty of room for both of course. And glad you enjoy Pixelblaze and the hardware. Do you have any interest in the programmer board to make it easier to use Pixelblaze with Arduino?

I would like to try this programmer board if you have one available. Thanks, Justin

Hey @WYOJUSTIN - It’s currently out of stock but you can sign up for a restock notification here.