MatrixPortal S3

by Adafruit

Image of Board

Folks love our wide selection of RGB matrices and accessories for making custom colorful LED displays… and our RGB Matrix Shields and FeatherWings can be quickly soldered together to make the wiring much easier. But what if we made it even easier than that? Like, no solder, no wiring, just instant plug-and-play? Dream no more - with the Adafruit Matrix Portal S3 add-on for RGB Matrices, there’s never been an easier way to create powerful Internet-connected LED displays.

You can plug directly into the back of any HUB-75 compatible display (all the ones we stock will work) from 16x32 up to 64x64 or use the stock 2x8 IDC cables to plug into the front. Use the included screws to attach the power cable to the power plugs with a common screwdriver, then power it with any USB C power supply. Chain dozens of displays for long stretches, or you can panelize them in a grid for bigger displays. For larger projects, power the matrices with a separate 5V power adapter.

Then code up your project in CircuitPython or Arduino, our Protomatter matrix library works great on the ESP32-S3 chipset, knowing that you’ve got the wiring and level shifting all handled. Here’s what you get:

  • ESP32-S3 processor, 8 MB flash, 2 MB of SRAM, with full Arduino or CircuitPython support
  • WiFi and Bluetooth LE baked right in, full Arduino support. CircuitPython only supports WiFi at this time, not BLE on the S3 chip.
  • USB Type C connector for data and power connectivity
  • I2C STEMMA QT connector for plug-n-play use of any of our STEMMA QT devices or sensors can also be used with any Grove I2C devices using this adapter cable
  • JST 3-pin connector that also has analog input for quick connection with any JST PH 2.0mm pitch cable.
  • LIS3DH accelerometer for digital sand projects or detecting taps/orientation.
  • GPIO breakout strip - has reset, boot selection, TX debug output, and 6 GPIO including 4 analog inputs with PWM, SPI, or I2S support for adding other hardware.
  • Address E line jumper for use with 64x64 matrices (check your matrix to see which pin is used for address E, we default to pin 8
  • Two user interface buttons + one reset button
  • Indicator NeoPixel and red LED
  • Green power indicator LEDs for both 3V and 5V power
  • 2x10 socket connector fits snugly into 2x8 HUB75 ports without worrying about ‘off by one’ errors
  • 2x8 IDC plug connector works with standard cables that come with matrices.

The Matrix Portal uses an Espressif ESP32-S3 Wi-Fi+BLE chipset, and has dropped the SAMD51 from the original Matrix Portal due to silicon shortages. But turns out the S3 is really great at doing all the work of the original all on its own:

  • The S3 has a parallel output drive peripheral which means that controlling the matrix is done without bitbanging.
  • The S3 has two cores so one can be dedicated to WiFi networking or matrix control while the other runs your code.
  • With native USB, its easy to have it act like a keyboard, or mouse, or MIDI device and it also has plenty of I2C, SPI, I2S, UART and analog inputs.
  • Lots of memory: 8MB of Flash means plenty of space for code, files, GIFs and more. 2MB of PSRAM means you can read and parse a lot of IoT data and still have plenty of RAM for the matrix display buffers.
  • The only real thing missing from the original Matrix Portal is the S3 does not have an analog output DAC pin, we recommend an I2S amplifier for audio instead.

Comes with one fully programmed and assembled MatrixPortal, preprogrammed with a basic display demo for 32x64 LED matrices.



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CircuitPython 8.2.6

This is the latest stable release of CircuitPython that will work with the MatrixPortal S3.

Use this release if you are new to CircuitPython.

Release Notes for 8.2.6

Built-in modules available: _asyncio, _bleio, _pixelmap, adafruit_bus_device, adafruit_pixelbuf, aesio, alarm, analogbufio, analogio, array, atexit, audiobusio, audiocore, audiomixer, binascii, bitbangio, bitmaptools, board, builtins, builtins.pow3, busio, busio.SPI, busio.UART, canio, collections, countio, digitalio, displayio, dualbank, errno, espcamera, espidf, espnow, espulp, fontio, framebufferio, frequencyio, getpass, gifio, hashlib, i2ctarget, io, ipaddress, json, keypad, keypad.KeyMatrix, keypad.Keys, keypad.ShiftRegisterKeys, math, mdns, memorymap, microcontroller, msgpack, neopixel_write, nvm, onewireio, os, os.getenv, ps2io, pulseio, pwmio, qrio, rainbowio, random, re, rgbmatrix, rotaryio, rtc, sdcardio, select, sharpdisplay, socketpool, ssl, storage, struct, supervisor, synthio, sys, terminalio, time, touchio, traceback, ulab, usb_cdc, usb_hid, usb_midi, vectorio, watchdog, wifi, zlib

Absolute Newest

Every time we commit new code to CircuitPython we automatically build binaries for each board and language. The binaries are stored on Amazon S3, organized by board, and then by language. These releases are even newer than the development release listed above. Try them if you want the absolute latest and are feeling daring or want to see if a problem has been fixed.

Previous Versions of CircuitPython

All previous releases of CircuitPython are available for download from Amazon S3 through the button below. For very old releases, look in the OLD/ folder for each board. Release notes for each release are available at GitHub button below.

Older releases are useful for testing if you something appears to be broken in a newer release but used to work, or if you have older code that depends on features only available in an older release. Otherwise we recommend using the latest stable release.

Install, Repair, or Update UF2 Bootloader

Latest version: 0.16.0

The UF2 bootloader allows you to load CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino programs. The bootloader is not CircuitPython. If a UF2 bootloader is installed, you can check its version by looking in the INFO_UF2.TXT file when the BOOT drive is visible (FTHRS2BOOT, MAGTAGBOOT, HOUSEBOOT, etc.)

It is not necessary to reinstall a UF2 bootloader you unless a BOOT drive is not visible when in UF2 bootloader mode, or you know of a problem with your current UF2 bootloader.

If a UF2 bootloader has never been installed on the board, or the UF2 bootloader was removed by erasing or overwriting the flash, the UF2 bootloader must be installed in order to flash .uf2 files onto the board. .bin files can be uploaded without a UF2 bootloader, using the ESP Web Flasher or

Note: update.uf2 files are not currently working on ESP32-S2 or ESP32-S3 boards.

Important: this will erase previously flashed firmware and sketches from the board, but needs to be perfomed only once.

The instructions here are general. We recommend you consult the manufacturer's board documentation for detailed instructions, which may be different.

  • Unzip to find the file combined.bin.
  • Place board in bootloader mode:
    • Plug board into a USB port on your computer using a data/sync cable. Make sure it is the only board plugged in, and that a charge-only cable is not being used.
    • Press and hold down the BOOT or 0 button.
    • Press and release the RESET or RST button.
    • Release the BOOT button.
  • Upload combined.bin (Google Chrome 89 or newer):
    • Open ESP Web Flasher in a new window/tab.
    • Select 460800 Baud from the pull-down menu (top-right).
    • Click Connect (top-right).
    • Select the COM or Serial port from the pop-up window.
    • After successful connection, click Erase.
    • After successful erase, click any Choose a file..., then locate and select the combined.bin file unzipped earlier.
    • After successfully choosing combined.bin, click Program.
    • After the TinyUF2 firmware update is complete, press the RESET button on the board. A new drive BOOT should be visible in your file browser.

After installing the UF2 bootloader, enter the bootloader by double-clicking the reset button. On boards with an RGB status LED, tap reset once, wait for the LED to turn purple, and tap again before the purple goes away. On other boards, consult the board documentation.

After you update, check INFO_UF2.TXT to verify that the bootloader version has been updated. Then you will need to load or reload CircuitPython using the .uf2 file.