3D Printed Backlit Marquee

I wanted to share a mod I did to my Picade. I 3D printed a marquee based on another makers design, and modified it to house NeoPixels and an Adafruit Metro Mini to animate the lights.

Thanks for sharing this, it is interesting!

This is really cool. I’ve been investigating a way to back light my marquee too but given my lack of electronics knowledge, it seems a little out of reach. I thought I could just plug a neopixel strip into the pi’s USB port but it seems that power draw is an issue.
Could I ask, what is the Metro Mini being used for here?

Hey brawfx,

Thanks for sharing.

Here is my picade, inspired by your remix!

I could not for the life of me scale the letters to fit, so I just printed a blank diffuser, that just sits behind the cutouts. I also didn’t like all the wiring and loose led strip by the top handle, so I enclosed the strip into a 3d printed backing, which also stops the light from spilling backwards and showing through the handle hole.

The metro mini I printed a mount that screws to the top right case bracket.

Lets see if I can post pictures here:


Thanks again for the inspiration

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Hi gizmo1990,

You need the Metro mini to drive the neopixel strip. It is a processor that is based off one of the arduino reference designs. I used a nano originally, but the metro is so dinky it fits in better.

The neopixel strip has 2 power cables and a data one. You use the arduino to drive the data wire to set the colour, brightness for each pixel in the strip.

Adafruit supply libraries, so it is really easy to setup (well apart from the fact that took me ages to find a usb cable that would actually work to program the thing … used an amazon kindle charge lead in the end).

Hope this helps

@cheekymoomin Thanks a lot for the reply! Ah, I see, does that mean that the neopixel strip(s) need to be powered by a second PSU then? Or is the metro mini only needed for the control of the leds? Tbh I’m only really interested in having the marquee lit constantly.

I was also wondering if I could simply use Pimoroni’s Illuminated Arcade Buttons kit and re-purpose it for Marquee lighting instead? As far as I can see it pulls power from the same psu powering the pi so it must be possible (enough power) to power leds this way?


I only have 1 power supply. The metro mini is just powered by plugging it in via a usb cable to the rpi. When I turn on the picade, the marquee just powers on. I have the plasma buttons too. I have no issue with power; but I have got the new usb-c x-hat; so more amps than the older psi.

Wow, excellent upgrades! I may have to try them out. As for the letters, yes, they are a very tight fit. What I discovered is you have to print the back plate and letters out of the same material. I first tried PLA letters and PEG back plate, but I could not get them to fit. When both were printed from PLA, I was able to get them together by cutting one end of a tongue depressor flat, and using a mallet to gently tap around the edges of the letters on the back plate. I was able to get all 4 fonts to work. Some were much harder than others.

Thanks again for the info @cheekymoomin
That’s interesting. From that, I’d take it that it is possible to power some leds, even via my older x-hat, due to the plasma button kit being available for it. Your method might indeed require a newer x-hat and psu tho.

The plasma button kit seems to plug into the hacker port on the x-hat and draw its power from there. It is even getting controlled via there. So perhaps there’s a simple (cost effective) way of doing something similar. Say, wire up a neopixel strip to the 5v and gnd pins on the hacker port?

Maybe I should break this out into its own thread? I’m sure there must be others looking to add lights to their Picade’s who are as electronically limited as me! I’m really enjoying learning about this tho and expanding my knowledge!

Hi gizmo1990,

Good thought on the plasma, and extending the chain to the marquee! I’ll have a think on that, as it would be nice to take the arduino out out the equation. My initial thoughts are that fact that the plasma has 4 wires (Not sure if using SPI or I2C bus for control). The neopixel strip has a single data wire. I don’t think there is a clock. I’ll have to look into this. I’ll post here if I found anything out.

That would be great cheekymoomin. I’d be really interested to know if you find anything out! :)