Infopanel puts live data, simple custom animations, images, animated gifs, headlines, anything on a simple display panel. It currently works with a Raspberry Pi and an RGB LED Matrix Screen (though other screens are envisioned to be supported in the future).

Here is an example with live travel times over I-90 and WA-520, as well as high, low, and current temperature (in celcius). (The headlines are coming directly from reddit, as you’ll see below).


To install, first install the dependencies:

You may also need to run:

sudo apt-get install libyaml-dev python-setuptools git python-matplotlib

We like running in a virtual environment just to keep the infopanel environment from the rest of your system. If you’re not comfortable with virtual environments you may want to start out without this. If you want to do this optional step, run something like this (with a path of your choosing):

python -m virtualenv /path/to/infopanel-venv
source /path/to/infopanel-venv/bin/activate

The source code is hosted on github. Grab it and install infopanel:

git clone
cd infopanel
python install


You now have to add information to the configuration file. You have to set up your screen, a data source, some sprites (animated things or text), some scenes (collections of sprites), and some modes (lists of alternating scenes). Make a text file called ledmatrix.yaml (or whatever) and add sections to it.

Note: There is a full example configuration file available for your reference.

Display screen

The infopanel screen has to be set up. Right now only RPI-RGB-LED-MATRIX screens are supported. Configuration reflects the configuration from that library.


  led-rows: 32
  led-cols: 32
  led-chain: 2
  led-parallel: 1
  led-pwm-bits: 11
  led-brightness: 100
  led-gpio-mapping: adafruit-hat-pwm
  led-scan-mode: 1
  led-pwm-lsb-nanoseconds: 130
  led-show-refresh: false
  led-slowdown-gpio: 0
  led-no-hardware-pulse: false


MQTT is a lightweight message-passing protocol. You can use it to get live data and/or control commands into your infopanel. For instance, if you have home-assistant running and it has a temperature sensor, you can have it use MQTT to send the temperature information to infopanel for display.

Before any of the MQTT stuff works, you need to configure it. You can have a MQTT server (like mosquitto) running locally on your Pi or on any other machine you have access to. If you’re using home-assistant, you can basically duplicate the configuration to here.


    port: 8883
    client_id: screen
    keepalive: 60
    username: user
    password: pass
    certificate: /etc/ssl/certs/DST_Root_CA_X3.pem
    protocol: 3.1
    topic: house/screen/#


Sprites are the most fun part! You have a few builtin sprites to get you started, but the best part is making your own, pixel-by-pixel, and animating them. They can move around while being animated.

Here are some giraffes as an example:

Built-in sprites include:
  • Sprite – General-purpose custom sprite
  • Giraffe – A Giraffe that runs around
  • Plant – A plant that sits around
  • FancyText – Multicolor text
  • DynamicFancyText – Multicolor text that can get live data (i.e. via MQTT)
  • Duration – Text that represents like, a travel time. Longer times become redder, shorter times are green.
  • Temperature – Text that represents a temperature. Higher is red, lower is green.
  • Reddit – Text that is sourced directly from the reddit webpage via the PRAW package

You can define live MQTT text as a sprite. Here is a MQTT-text value that will render as a Duration for whatever is published to house/screen/travel_time_i90:

      type: Duration
      label: I90
      low_val: 13.0
      high_val: 23.0
      data_label: travel_time_i90
      label_color: purple

That will be green if it’s near 13 minutes and red if it’s above 23 minutes. You can use this to tell yourself how long your commute will be, for example.

Sprites have optional configuration values you can set that define their placement, motion, and animation. Here are some simple options:

  • x – starting x position of sprite (default=0)
  • y – starting y position of sprite (default=0)
  • dx – change in horizontal position per animation tick. Set to 1 for left-to-right motion. (default=0)
  • dy – change in vertical position per animation tick. Set to 1 for top-to-bottom motion. (default=0)
  • ticks_per_movement – number of ticks that go by before this moves by dx/dy. If you want it fast, make this 1. If you want it slower, increase the number. (default=1)
  • ticks_per_frame – how many animation ticks go by before this changes to its next animation frame. For example, if you want your sprite to move 3 ticks before moving its legs, set this to 3. (default=1)
  • font_name – font to use to display text. (default=5x8.bdf)
  • phrases – phrases the sprite may have alongside itself. Useful for giving sprites snarky personality.
  • ticks_per_phrase – how many ticks go by before the sprite changes its phrase. This is only relevant for sprites that have phrases, like the Giraffe. Increase if you want them to change slower (default: 200).
  • text – Some text the sprite may say.

There are some special configuration values a sprite may have as well to make things really fun. Here’s where you can draw your own sprites pixel-by-pixel. The possibilities are endless!!

frames are the fundamental config for a custom sprite. You fill in a grid of integers and draw out your shape. Each number can correspond to whatever color you choose. If you want a static sprite, make one frame. If you want it to be animated, make multiple frames.

pallete defines the actual RGB colors of each number you put in your frames.

Example custom animated horse sprite. If you squint you can kind of see the horse. It runs and hops. (Try it out yourself!!):

    type: Sprite
    ticks_per_frame: 5
    ticks_per_movement: 1
    dx: 1
          - 165
          - 42
          - 42
          - 0
          - 0
          - 255
      - 0000000000000

      - 0000000001000

      - 0000000000000

The Reddit sprite is special. It can pull live postings directly from reddit. You have to configure access before you do this but it’s pretty easy. The configuration in the sprites section of the configuration file looks like:

   type: Reddit
   client_id: [your id]
   client_secret: [your secret]
   user_agent: infopanel
      - worldnews
      - politics
      - news
   num_headlines: 5
   update_minutes: 10

This will pull the latest 5 top postings in the three listed subreddits. Neat!


Scenes are full-screen collections of sprites and/or images/animated gifs.

Here is the horses scene:

Here are some scene definition examples, which include all the animations shown on this page:

      type: Image
      path: /home/pi/led-infopanel/flag.ppm
      type: AnimatedGif
      path: /home/pi/led-infopanel/rainbow_cat.gif
      type: AnimatedGif
      path: /home/pi/led-infopanel/hypnotoad.gif
      type: Giraffes
        - I90
        - WA520
        - daily_high
        - daily_low
        - current
      extra_phrase_frequency: 4
      type: Scene
        - I90:
            x: 0
            y: 8
        - WA520:
            x: 0
            y: 16
        - daily_high:
            x: 33
            y: 8
        - daily_low:
            x: 33
            y: 16
        - current:
            x: 33
            y: 24
        - vehicle:
            x: 0
            y: 24
        - headlines:
            x: 0
            y: 32
            dx: -1
     type: Scene
       - horse:
           y: 10
       - horse:
           y: 15
       - horse2:
           y: 10
           x: 40
       - scroll:
           y: 32
       - yee:
           y: 8

The images are pointing to paths. If it’s an animated gif it will be animated. The Giraffes scene shows a few Giraffes at once, running around with text annotation including a bunch of goofy exclamations, plus some actually-useful information defined by the sprites listed in the extra_phrases section.

Note that when your placing each sprite in the scene you can modify some of its attributes like dx, x, y. You can even put multple of the same sprite in one scene with different attributes, as seen in the horse scene.

Image files were made in The GIMP as binary bitmaps, though it might be possible to load full-scale images in that way.


You can configure modes, which are just different collections of scenes. You can have different scenes run for different durations and brightnesses:

    - giraffes:
        duration: 15
        brightness: 70
    - traffic:
        duration: 10
        brightness: 50


If you set brightness in modes, it will always override anything you send over MQTT. Leave the brightness lines above out if you want to adjust brightness remotely.


If you want infopanel to start automatically and you have a system that uses systemd, you can make a file like this (adjust paths accordingly):


ExecStart=/opt/venvs/infopanel-py27/bin/python -m infopanel --config=/home/pi/ledmatrix.yaml


Save that in /etc/systemd/system/infopanel.service. Then run:

sudo systemctl daemon-reload
sudo systemctl enable infopanel.service
sudo systemctl start infopanel.service

Command and control

There are several simple commands you can send to the infopanel via MQTT. The topics should be appended to the root topic defined in the MQTT configuration. Commands you can send are:

Topic Payload Description
random 1 or 0 Toggle random scene order
mode mode_name Switch modes to mode_name
brightness 0 to 100 Change screen brightness
image_path spritename=newpath Update the path of an image

Set mode to blank to shut down the panel. Special mode all will cycle through all defined scenes. If you pass a scene name as mode, that scene will be displayed.

Integration with Home-Assistant

You an integrate this with anything that supports MQTT. It’s super conducive to home-assistant because:

  1. it has its own MQTT server in case you don’t want to bother with another one
  2. it already runs my whole house so I might as well control this with it too.

I made a MQTT switch:


and an input_select to turn things on and off and choose modes.


Here is some home-assistant configuration to run this:

  - platform: mqtt
    name: Infopanel
    command_topic: "house/infopanel/mode"
    state_topic: "house/infopanel/mode"
    payload_on: "all"
    payload_off: "blank"
    qos: 1
    retain: true

    name: Infopanel scenes
      - Traffic
      - Giraffes
      - Horse
      - Morning
      - Hypnotoad
      - PartyGiraffe
      - Love
      - All

 - alias: Infopanel control
     platform: state
     entity_id: input_select.infopanel
     - service: mqtt.publish
         topic: house/infopanel/mode
         payload_template: '{{ states.input_select.infopanel.state|lower }}'

This works great and is very very epic. I have other automations to turn it off at night and stuff.

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