The RGB Matrix Backpack is a small board that connects to the back of the Adafruit 16x32 RGB LED Matrix Panel and is a very convenient way to control this awesome panel. The board is simply a small Arduino. You can easily program the board using the Arduino IDE. As you can see from the video below, it's possible to create great color animations, completely in Arduino programming!
Kit comes unassembled, Adafruit 16x32 RGB LED Matrix Panel not included!
To program the board, you'll need an FTDI cable or FTDI friend. Or you can program the ATMega328 chip using your Arduino board and move the chip to the RGB Matrix Backpack for testing.
The board snaps onto the back of the panel and provides power to the panel through the terminal block connections. The board should be powered by a 5V regulated power adapter that can deliver up to 2A.
Adafruit provides Arduino libraries for controlling the RGB Matrix Panel. You can download the libraries and learn how to use them on our matrix tutorial page. You don't have to worry about any of the complex wiring -- just skip down to the sections "Test example code" and "Library".
The ATmega328 chip comes preloaded with the animation shown in the video above. To change the demo program download the sketch here. Make sure you've installed the Adafruit libraries correctly. Compile the sketch and upload it to your board.