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Pi Lite white - Bright white LED display for Raspberry Pi's video poster

Can you help us make an ultra bright white one a reality? Read more

Nottingham, UK Hardware
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pledged of £4,000 goal
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This project was successfully funded on July 13, 2013.

Can you help us make an ultra bright white one a reality?

Nottingham, UK Hardware
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About this project

Play with a Pi LITE for free on your Pi - see the new update here

More code examples - Xively IoT, Tickers for Weather, world time zones and Stock prices see update

Added reward level - The Dark LITE rises!

To celebrate hitting target we created a new reward. If you scroll to the bottom of the page you can take a peek at the Dark LITE cased version, it's an £18 upgrade over a standard white Pi LITE.

Added code example - MQTT Internet of Things display

What's a Pi LITE?

We keep hearing, "I've got a Raspberry Pi, but done nothing with it yet" so what we thought was "what can we make that requires no soldering, is plug and play, fun, physical and practical."

The Jimmy Rogers LOL shield for the Arduino is a great bit of kit and where we took our inspiration from. It makes a Raspberry Pi "do something" that normal computers just don't. After all if we'd just have wanted dull computers we'd not have bought a Pi right?

What to do with it?

  • Your twitter feed in real time (see code below)
  • "Get off my chuff" message the car hanging off your bumper!
  • Some games are possible such as pong, Tetris etc
  • Status screens/icons from a distance
  • Daylight visible where LCD cant be seen
  • Bargraphs, VU meter and other dashboard type apps
  • And so much more

So what's our ambition on Kickstarter?

It's really simple...... to bring to market a white LED version of the Pi LITE we recently launched with red LED's.

The problem

The trouble is that big ultra-bright white SMT LED's are really expensive compared to ultra-bright red SMT LED's. That is unless you order a lot of them at once. We have managed to find them at a good price but we would need to buy 100,000 LED's at once.

We don't feel we can risk so much money on so many LED's without knowing there is a demand. We hope you can help show us there is a desire for a white version. If we get pledges for around a quarter of the 100,000 LED's we'd use (about 200 Pi LITE's) we will take the plunge and order the full 100,000.

With your support we can make the worlds first production run of White Pi Lite's for only a few pounds more than the red.

Python code for a Twitter Ticker

A cool example of what you can do (as seen in the videos) is get your tweets in real time. Our document to do this is The code is up here:

Some more example bits of code - 

A red one playing a pong sketch as a demo

Why do a white one as well as a red one?

The red has a cool retro feel, the green PCB and a red matrix display makes us think back to 70's digital watches.

The white uses larger, brighter and diffused LED's, it's just so different looking that we really would love to do both.

If you just don't want to wait till the end of this project and want a sexy red one shipped today then CPC Farnell, ModMyPi and our shop all have stock.

Description of the Pi LITE in more detail

The Pi LITE is a large LED matrix display for scrolling text and graphics. It's an exciting way to get a Raspberry Pi to do something physical and fun. It's an easy plug-in add on, so no soldering or special skills are required.

The Pi Lite mixes the highly popular Arduino "Lots of LED's" shield by Jimmy Rogers with the world of the Raspberry Pi. Using standard serial communications (@9600bps), it's really simple to send text and graphics to the 126 LED's. The matrix is powered from an ATMega328p processor which means all the processing of driving the 126 LED's is off loaded from the Pi's processor. This frees the Pi's processor and GPIO for other functions.


  • On board ATMega328p
  • High quality gold plated PCB
  • 126 LEDS
  • Data is driven by the Pi serial UART (you may need to setup your serial port, see below docs).
  • Runs at 5 volts off the Pi supply (49ma max)
  • Preloaded software, can be used out of the box to display the following
  • Scrolling Text (speed variable)
  • Bar Graph (vertical 14 bars)
  • VU Meter (horizontal 2 bars)
  • Frame buffer (for graphics and animation)
  • Individual Pixels (turn them on, off or toggle)
  • Pre-built / Plug and Code
  • Ability to install 6 pin ISP or 6 pin FTDI Headers to the ATMega328P for firmware upgrades or your own sketches
  • ATMega328p analog pins are broken onto standard holes (just like the Jimmy Roger shield)
  • I2C from the ATMega328p is available on pins A4 and A5 for daisy chaining of Pi-Lite to create a bigger display
  • Made in the UK

Technical data

Dimensions: 85mm x 55mm x 13.7mm

Low current consumption 49mA maximum


Pre Loaded Arduino Sketch


B040 - Pi-Lite Beginners Guide -

Configuring the Pi serial port to use the GPIO header -


£2 for UK, Scotland and N.I. shipping via Royal Mail is included. There's an additional £2 for International Airmail.

Added reward level - The Dark LITE rises!

Take a look at our update around the special edition Dark LITE cased version, it's an £18 upgrade. It's the same Pi LITE design but on a matt black PCB. Included with the kit is matt black PCB Pi LITE and a matching custom laser cut black gloss case. The screw-less case comes with 4 coloured fascias (Toxic Green, Neon Orange, Diffused White and Diffused Purple. How does it all fit together? The Pi LITE and Pi both fit into the case. Here's what Ben modified for the project it shows how the Pi sits in the case

Risks and challenges

The greatest risk is supply. The LED's we have to import from China. There's always the chance that delivery doesn't happen on time, gets held in customs or any other delay. The supplier for the white LED's is the one we have already been dealing with for the red LED's. They have never let us down so our confidence is high based on past experience.

The next possible curve ball is that our pick and place machine cannot keep up. Our friends Pimoroni (who make the PiBow case) use the same machine so if ours break we'll be begging to go use it. Failing that we have another company we could try in Cambridge again with the same machine. If that's a no go we'll have to find a small fab house to do it. Where there's a will there's always a way :)

If the Pi Lite white really takes off there is a risk of more pledges that we have stock parts to build. Supporting parts are sourced in the UK within a day or two on average. PCB's however take 10 working days to be produced. So this doesn't add delay, we will order the extra PCB's as soon as the funding end and before the KS money has been paid to us. If we hit more than 793(100,000 / 126) pledges, we will of course increase the size of the white LED order.

Learn about accountability on Kickstarter


  • Yes the I2C port on the ATMega328 is available via pin A4 and A5, this could be use to daisy chain Pi-Lite displays.

    Last updated:
  • The Pi-Lite use the Raspberry Pi's TTL Serial on pins 8 and 10.

    We use pin 15 (GPIO 22) as a DTR out, connecting to the Reset of the ATMega328p, and allowing from code upload from the Arduino IDE running on the Pi

    All other GPIO pins are free.

    Last updated:
  • £2 for UK, Scotland and N.I. shipping via Royal Mail is included. There's an additional £2 for International Airmail.

    Last updated:


  • You selected
    Pledge £20 or more

    200 backers All gone!


    Your chance to own 1 of the first 200 white Pi Lites ever made, each signed by our founder. Shipped within 3 weeks of the KS funds arriving. Includes £2 shipping.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge £22 or more

    44 backers

    An original red version of the Pi Lite. Shipped as soon as the KS funds arrive. Includes £2 shipping.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge £25 or more

    93 backers

    If all of the first 200 signed white Pi Lites have been grabbed, don't be left out, your chance to own one too. Shipped within 3 weeks of the KS funds arriving. Includes £2 shipping

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge £43 or more

    51 backers

    ADDED REWARD LEVEL - Out of a number of requests and the good suggestion we should create a reward level with a WHITE and a RED version in a single reward, the level has been created. Includes postage to any UK postcode. For shipping out side the UK please add the £2 extra.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge £43 or more

    79 backers Limited (421 left of 500)

    Dark LITE kit

    Special edition matt black PCB, black gloss case and 4 coloured fascias

    includes postage within the UK.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world

Funding period

- (30 days)