As any gamer knows, adding RGB LEDs to just about anything instantly makes it better. We’ve seen this trend in the world of Raspberry Pi, with custom enclosures experimenting with LED lights and even cooling solutions featuring shiny LEDs. Now, it’s time to spruce up displays with the funky Elecrow Meteor Screen. I’m excited to connect it to my Raspberry Pi and see what it can do!
Inside a plain box shipped to me by Elecrow, I found the 10.1″ IPS panel tightly wrapped in protective foam. One layer below, I found everything I needed to get it connected to a Raspberry Pi (or anything with an HDMI port). There were also small feet to keep the screen nicely angled on the table. The 10.1″ ISP panel brings 1200 x 800 resolution and a capacitive, 5-point touch display. I would have preferred it to be 1080p, but beggars can’t be choosers.
The display is made from three layers: a wrapped-in-thin bezel IPS panel, a clear acrylic middle-of-this-sandwich that allows RGB LEDs to create a colourful aura around it, and a black cover that keeps the screen driver and all electronics secured. What’s really neat is the cutout for the I/O, which prevents the cables from sticking out of the panel. The I/O falls a little short, with a full-size HDMI cable and micro USB for power and touch interfaces. It would have been better if these were replaced with a single USB-C.
The back also reveals four PEMs to which you can screw into a Raspberry Pi board or any compatible board that uses the same spacing of the mounting holes. Included spacers are short, and keep the board uncomfortably close to the screen. I would have liked to see a provision for a 1/4″ thread, so there would be more mounting options. I will probably get away with a small CAD enclosure that will protect the board, keep cables out of sight, and include more mounting options.
I appreciate the HDMI adapter for Raspberry Pi 4, but the inclusion of a dedicated HDMI cable that simply connects to the board mounted at the back would be so much better. All the effort spent to conceal the cables is wasted as there is no way to hide the HDMI cable when using the adapter. I strongly recommend this cable instead. Either way, what could be a very neat setup, ends up as a cable mess unless you are willing to purchase cables tailored to your scenario.
It’s an issue that plagues most Raspberry Pi displays. I’d love some custom cable solutions to be included in the box.
Screen and touch
For the best results, set the Meteor screen to the native resolution. The resulting image is crisp and relatively bright. A dedicated brightness button increments the backlight brightness of the display. You can turn it off completely too. The panel has great viewing angles in both horizontal and vertical orientations.
The touchscreen connects via a USB cable to your board and acts as a mouse. If you want to ditch the mouse completely, you’d have to install one of the onscreen keyboards for text input.
You could use:
sudo apt update sudo apt install onboard
Overall, the touch responsiveness is great and the accuracy of the touches is good. The review of the Meteor screen couldn’t come at a better time as the recent update to Raspberry Pi OS brings improvements to touch interfaces.
It’s all about that highlight
This is where things get disappointing. Despite my high hopes, the array of 27 individually addressable RGB LEDs turns out to be a bit of a letdown. I had anticipated an HDMI-controlled ambient sync, or at the very least a direct connection from a Raspberry Pi (or compatible board) to the RGB strip, so I could control it programmatically. Unfortunately, neither of these options is available.
It turns out that the Elecrow Meteor Screen’s array of 27 individually addressable RGB LEDs is actually just a simple LED strip with a dedicated controller and a few predefined animations that can be adjusted for brightness or turned off entirely.
Initially, I was ready to give up on the idea and move on to the next chapter. But then, I decided to take a closer look and opened up the screen enclosure to investigate the PCB further. If my suspicions are correct, we should only need a single data connection to take over control of the LED strip.
While the RGB ambient light on the screen isn’t quite as sophisticated as we might have hoped, it’s certainly salvageable. By taking control of the LED strip, we can potentially create more dynamic and customizable lighting effects that truly elevate the overall viewing experience.
I will add this to my project list, so if you want to find out how this turns out, you’ll have to keep an eye on my blog for updates.
RGB fiasco aside, Elecrow is on the right track with the panel. It’s thin, hides the ports and with a little creativity, you can neatly mount it on a wall. The same advantages can be leveraged when building a case for the screen and the associated electronics.
I’d love to see a 2nd generation screen with the RGB lights exposed to whatever board you want to use it with and build in light and proximity sensor. There is enough space between the acrylic layers to add the necessary electronics.
I tried to power on Meteor Screen using USB 3.0 ports on the Rasberry Pi and 100W charger, but I had no luck booting the board and screen together. You’ll have to use a separate power source that can deliver 5V at 2A.
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Set your expectations accordingly, and the Elecrow Meteor Screen can be a valuable touch display for your Raspberry Pi and other automation projects. While the RGB lighting may not be as impressive as I had hoped, if you’re reading this, then you’re probably just like me: always looking for a good project. The Elecrow Meteor Screen is a great starting point for creating an even more impressive display.
Feeling inspired? You can purchase the Elecrow Meteor Screen for just $109.90 on the Elecrow website. You can also get a 10% discount using code 10ELECROW. While you are shopping you can also save on PCB manufacturing and get 10 PCBs for $1! Share your plans and ideas on this Reddit thread – I’d love to hear what you’re working on!
🆓📈💵 – See the transparency note for details.