LEDs continue to dramatically transform signage and lighting, but LED signages today come in 8 x 8 displays and cannot communicate many international alphanumeric characters.

Maxim Integrated's MAXREFDES99# reference design integrates four MAX7219 LED drivers to provide designers a 16 x 16 display with 256 LEDs, allowing hobbyists and makers to create signs in multiple languages. The MAX7219 driver simplifies the process of controlling multiple LEDs in matrix or numeric display form.

For fast prototyping, software code developed for the MAXREFDES99# reference design works with both ARM mbed and Arduino platforms. Developers are encouraged to build upon and enhance the code base for more signage possibilities.

"16 x 16 displays are becoming more common building blocks and are the future of LED signage," said David Andeen, director of reference designs at Maxim Integrated. "With this new reference design and readily available code, sign developers and makers can immediately start displaying their LED creations."

The MAXREFDES99# reference design is available for $49 at Maxim's website and select franchised distributors. Hardware and firmware design files, as well as test data, are provided free and available online.