by Explore Embedded

Starling is a modular, open source, LED display that works right out of the box. It's Wi-Fi enabled for easy connection to the Internet.

$1,384 raised

of $5,000 goal

28% Funded Time Expired
Mar 23 2016


As Featured In



"Hackable wifi enabled modular LED display to showcase messages that matter to makers, hobbyists and everyone else!"

Electronics Infoline

"Starling is a modular, Open Source LED display with WiFi connectivity. It comes with a mobile app for easy configuration and usage and has hardware support for Bluetooth."

Backerjack Logo


"Starling is an open source LED display that features a modular design and is Wi-Fi-enabled for easy connection to the Internet. "


"Starling is modular WiFi Enabled, IoT enabled display... Wouldn't you like to hack this open source project?"

Product Features:

  • Modular design
  • Wi-Fi enabled
  • Mobile-friendly web application for easy configuration and usage
  • Fonts, scroll speed, etc. can be easily configured from the Starling app
  • IFTTT Maker Channel support: IFTTT lets you configure various services to send messages to Starling.
  • Free Starling Cloud service for 1 year.
  • Open source hardware
  • Hardware support for adding Bluetooth

Cloud Integration


Starling works with IFTTT Maker Channel to provide integration with services like Slack or email. This video shows you how to configure IFTTT along with some great use-case demonstrations:

Free Starling Cloud Service

Starling comes with free cloud service for one year. The cloud service lets you queue up messages for display on Starling. Since it generally takes one or two minutes to scroll completely through each message, queuing helps by saving and displaying messages at a uniform pace. Currently 100 messages can be queued for each device.


Starling supports REST APIs. You can use these to write code that will bring up and connect Starlings, configure them, and use them inside your projects. Virtually any of your favourite programming languages can be used to accomplish this. Check out the API documentation for more details.

Mobile Application

Starling includes a mobile friendly web app that lets you register Starling, configure the fonts, scroll speed, etc., and send messages with ease. Messages sent from the app will go directly to Starling in real time. Unlike messages originating from IFTTT, these will not be queued.

Open Source and Hackable

We believe in the principles of open source design. Please check our GitHub repository ( for the complete design of Starling. We hope you’ll become an active contributor for further improving Starling. We want you to hack on Starling with abandon to find new and unusual ways to use it.

We have documented the development of Starling on our wiki and on Hackaday; please check it out.

Product Specifications

Starling LED Matrix

Size: 70 x 20 x 60mm ( L x W x H )
Power: Max 200mA when all LEDs are on.
LED color: Red
Sound: Onboard buzzer
Microcontroller: Atmega8
Driver: ULN2803

LED matrices are the basic building block of a Starling. They can be easily chained together to form whatever length display you need.

The LED matrix is driven by an Atmega8 microcontroller (MCU), instead of a standard ASIC. This provides a lot of flexibility in the firmware. The firmware detects and assigns IDs to newly plugged-in modules. The microcontroller also stores font tables; hence if ASCII is sent on the serial (UART) port of the MCU, ASCII is what will be displayed on the matrix. Since the firmware detects adjacent displays, it can easily decide if it needs to display static or scrolling text.

Starling One

Starling One Product

Size: 85 x 37 x 80mm ( L x W x H )


  • Starling LED matrix
  • Power/Wi-Fi board
    • ESP8266 Wi-Fi
    • DC power regulator board (recommended input: 9V/1A)
  • Acrylic case

Starling One is a single Wi-Fi enabled LED matrix display. It connects to your home or office Wi-Fi router and then to the Starling server. With this simple hardware, you can display notifications, signs, small games, and other hacks. The display comes tested and fully assembled in its case.

Starling Five

Starling Five Product

Size: 332 x 37 x 75mm ( L x W x H )


  • Starling LED Matrix x 5
  • Power-Wi-Fi board
    • ESP8266 Wi-Fi
    • DC power regulator board (recommended input: 9V/1A)
  • Acrylic case

Starling Five is apt for home use or in places where you need to display bright messages in limited space. The display comes tested and fully assembled in its case.

Starling Ten

Starling Ten Product

Size: 630 x 38 x 88mm ( L x W x H )


  • Starling LED Matrix x 10
  • Power-Wi-Fi board
    • ESP8266 Wi-Fi
    • DC power regulator board (recommended input: 9V/2A)
  • Acrylic case

Starling Ten can easily display lengthier messages. It has a long viewing distance, the text can be read from distances up to 100 meters. It is apt for offices, homes and storefront displays. The display comes tested and fully assembled in its case.

Manufacturing plan

We will be manufacturing up to 200 units in-house. At Explore Embedded we have been shipping Embedded Hardware development tools for last two years. We have built up the expertise necessary for small production runs. If campaign exceeds 200+ units we will manufacture at Seeed Studio.

Risks and Challenges

We do not foresee any risks with the implementation of the project.The project hardware and software has gone through few iterations . The product is ready for manufacturing. All the components used for manufacturing are high volume items and procuring them should not be a challenge.

About Us

Explore Embedded has been designing and shipping open source, embedded hardware development tools for the last two years. Our expertise in writing excellent firmware has resulted in lower costs for the Starling project. We have produced numerous video and text tutorials for Embedded Product development. We also work with individuals and startups to turn ideas into working prototypes. We strongly believe in principles of open source hardware and software design, which ultimately leads to better and open products for everyone.


Is the case waterproof?

The case is not waterproof. It is made from acrylic, but does not have any seals against water intrusion.

Is the case UV safe?

No, the case is not UV safe. Avoid exposing it to direct sunlight for extended periods.

How many Starling matrix modules can be connected together?

You can connect up to 20 Starling matrix modules.

Can multiple Starling chains be put on top of each other to make a taller display?

Yes, they can be used to make a taller display. However the software/firmware support for this is not yet complete.

How do I mount Starling to a wall?

Two hooks are provided at the back of Starling for mounting. Complete specs will be published once the design goes into production.

Can I drive Starling from Arduino, Raspberry Pi, etc., instead of Wi-Fi?

Starling takes messages via the serial (UART) port. You can send the messages from your favorite development boards. Starling works on 5V, hence ensure that you use appropriate level shifter when using with 3.3V boards.

Can I use different colour LED matrices?

Yes! Only red LEDs are available during the campaign, but they can be switched out with most standard 8x8 LED matrix modules with the same pinout. As different modules will have different power draw, please be sure your power solution is adequate to handle the overall amperage usage. The current Starling hardware design does not support RGB multicolour modules.

What languages does Starling support natively?

Starling currently only supports standard English characters.


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