Arduino Nano ESP32 - LED Matrix via Web

In this tutorial, we will learn how to control LED matrix signboard via web interface using Arduino Nano ESP32. In detail, we will program Arduino Nano ESP32 to become a web server that does the following:

Arduino Nano ESP32 controls LED matrix signboard via web

Hardware Preparation

1×Arduino Nano ESP32
1×USB Cable Type-C
1×FC-16 LED Matrix 32x8
1×Jumper Wires
1×(Optional) DC Power Jack
1×(Recommended) Screw Terminal Adapter for Arduino Nano

Or you can buy the following sensor kits:

1×DIYables Sensor Kit (30 sensors/displays)
1×DIYables Sensor Kit (18 sensors/displays)
Disclosure: Some of the links provided in this section are Amazon affiliate links. We may receive a commission for any purchases made through these links at no additional cost to you. We appreciate your support.

Overview of LED Matrix and Web Server

We can use a pure HTTP to send a text from web interface to Arduino Nano ESP32. However, using WebSocket makes it looks more responsive and does not add much difficuity, So in this tutorial, we will use the WebSocket.

Unfamiliar with LED Matrix and Web Server and WebSocket, including their pinouts, functionality, and programming? Explore comprehensive tutorials on these topics below:

Wiring Diagram

The wiring diagram between Arduino Nano ESP32 and LED matrix display

This image is created using Fritzing. Click to enlarge image

Arduino Nano ESP32 Code

The webpage's content (HTML, CSS, JavaScript) are stored separately on an index.h file. So, we will have two code files on Arduino IDE:

  • An .ino file that is Arduino Nano ESP32 code, which creates a web sever and WebSocket server
  • An .h file, which contains the webpage's content.

Detailed Instructions

  • If this is the first time you use Arduino Nano ESP32, see how to setup environment for Arduino Nano ESP32 on Arduino IDE.
  • Connect the Arduino Nano ESP32 board to your PC via a micro USB caweb server
  • Open Arduino IDE on your PC.
  • Select the right Arduino Nano ESP32 board (e.g. Arduino Nano ESP32 and COM port.
  • Open the Library Manager by clicking on the Library Manager icon on the left navigation bar of Arduino IDE.
  • Search “ESPAsyncWebServer”, then find the ESPAsyncWebServer created by lacamera.
  • Click Install button to install ESPAsyncWebServer library.
Arduino Nano ESP32 ESPAsyncWebServer library
  • You will be asked to install the dependency. Click Install All button.
Arduino Nano ESP32 ESPAsyncWebServer dependencies library
  • Search “WebSockets”, then find the WebSockets created by Markus Sattler.
  • Click Install button to install WebSockets library.
Arduino Nano ESP32 WebSockets library
  • Search “MD_Parola”, then find the MD_Parola library
  • Click Install button.
Arduino Nano ESP32 MD_Parola library
  • You will be asked to install the “MD_MAX72XX” library
  • Click Install All button to install the dependency.
Arduino Nano ESP32 MD_MAX72XX library
  • On Arduino IDE, create new sketch, Give it a name, for example,
  • Copy the below code and open with Arduino IDE
/* * This Arduino Nano ESP32 code was developed by * * This Arduino Nano ESP32 code is made available for public use without any restriction * * For comprehensive instructions and wiring diagrams, please visit: * */ #include <WiFi.h> #include <ESPAsyncWebServer.h> #include <WebSocketsServer.h> #include "index.h" #include <MD_Parola.h> #include <MD_MAX72xx.h> #define HARDWARE_TYPE MD_MAX72XX::FC16_HW #define MAX_DEVICES 4 // 4 blocks #define CS_PIN D10 // The Arduino Nano ESP32 pin const char* ssid = "YOUR_WIFI_SSID"; // CHANGE IT const char* password = "YOUR_WIFI_PASSWORD"; // CHANGE IT AsyncWebServer server(80); WebSocketsServer webSocket = WebSocketsServer(81); // WebSocket server on port 81 // create an instance of the MD_Parola class MD_Parola ledMatrix = MD_Parola(HARDWARE_TYPE, CS_PIN, MAX_DEVICES); void webSocketEvent(uint8_t num, WStype_t type, uint8_t* payload, size_t length) { switch (type) { case WStype_DISCONNECTED: Serial.printf("[%u] Disconnected!\n", num); break; case WStype_CONNECTED: { IPAddress ip = webSocket.remoteIP(num); Serial.printf("[%u] Connected from %d.%d.%d.%d\n", num, ip[0], ip[1], ip[2], ip[3]); } break; case WStype_TEXT: String text = String((char*)payload); Serial.println("Received: " + text); ledMatrix.displayClear(); // clear led matrix display ledMatrix.displayScroll(text.c_str(), PA_CENTER, PA_SCROLL_LEFT, 100); webSocket.sendTXT(num, "Displayed: " + String((char*)payload) + "on LED Matrix"); break; } } void setup() { Serial.begin(9600); ledMatrix.begin(); // initialize the object ledMatrix.setIntensity(0); // set the brightness of the LED matrix display (from 0 to 15) ledMatrix.displayClear(); // clear led matrix display ledMatrix.displayScroll("", PA_CENTER, PA_SCROLL_LEFT, 100); // Connect to Wi-Fi WiFi.begin(ssid, password); while (WiFi.status() != WL_CONNECTED) { delay(1000); Serial.println("Connecting to WiFi..."); } Serial.println("Connected to WiFi"); // Initialize WebSocket server webSocket.begin(); webSocket.onEvent(webSocketEvent); // Serve a basic HTML page with JavaScript to create the WebSocket connection server.on("/", HTTP_GET, [](AsyncWebServerRequest* request) { Serial.println("Web Server: received a web page request"); String html = HTML_CONTENT; // Use the HTML content from the index.h file request->send(200, "text/html", html); }); server.begin(); Serial.print("ESP32 Web Server's IP address: "); Serial.println(WiFi.localIP()); } void loop() { webSocket.loop(); if (ledMatrix.displayAnimate()) { ledMatrix.displayReset(); } }
  • Create the index.h file On Arduino IDE by:
    • Either click on the button just below the serial monitor icon and choose New Tab, or use Ctrl+Shift+N keys.
    Arduino IDE 2 adds file
    • Give the file's name index.h and click OK button
    Arduino IDE 2 adds file index.h
    • Copy the below code and paste it to the index.h.
    /* * This Arduino Nano ESP32 code was developed by * * This Arduino Nano ESP32 code is made available for public use without any restriction * * For comprehensive instructions and wiring diagrams, please visit: * */ const char *HTML_CONTENT = R"=====( <!DOCTYPE html> <!-- saved from url=(0019) --> <html><head><meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=windows-1252"> <title>Arduino Nano ESP32 WebSocket</title> <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=0.7"> <link rel="icon" href=""> <style> /* Add some basic styling for the chat window */ body { font-size: 16px; } .chat-container { width: 400px; margin: 0 auto; padding: 10px; } .chat-messages { height: 250px; overflow-y: auto; border: 1px solid #444; padding: 5px; margin-bottom: 5px; } .user-input { display: flex; margin-bottom: 20px; } .user-input input { flex: 1; border: 1px solid #444; padding: 5px; } .user-input button { margin-left: 5px; background-color: #007bff; color: #fff; border: none; padding: 5px 10px; cursor: pointer; } .websocket { display: flex; align-items: center; margin-bottom: 5px; } .websocket button { background-color: #007bff; color: #fff; border: none; padding: 5px 10px; cursor: pointer; } .websocket .label { margin-left: auto; } </style> <script> var ws; var wsm_max_len = 4096; /* bigger length causes uart0 buffer overflow with low speed smart device */ function update_text(text) { var chat_messages = document.getElementById("chat-messages"); chat_messages.innerHTML += text + '<br>'; chat_messages.scrollTop = chat_messages.scrollHeight; } function send_onclick() { if(ws != null) { var message = document.getElementById("message").value; if (message) { document.getElementById("message").value = ""; ws.send(message + "\n"); update_text('<span style="color:navy">' + message + '</span>'); // You can send the message to the server or process it as needed } } } function connect_onclick() { if(ws == null) { ws = new WebSocket("ws://" + + ":81"); document.getElementById("ws_state").innerHTML = "CONNECTING"; ws.onopen = ws_onopen; ws.onclose = ws_onclose; ws.onmessage = ws_onmessage; } else ws.close(); } function ws_onopen() { document.getElementById("ws_state").innerHTML = "<span style='color:blue'>CONNECTED</span>"; document.getElementById("bt_connect").innerHTML = "Disconnect"; document.getElementById("chat-messages").innerHTML = ""; } function ws_onclose() { document.getElementById("ws_state").innerHTML = "<span style='color:gray'>CLOSED</span>"; document.getElementById("bt_connect").innerHTML = "Connect"; ws.onopen = null; ws.onclose = null; ws.onmessage = null; ws = null; } function ws_onmessage(e_msg) { e_msg = e_msg || window.event; // MessageEvent console.log(; update_text('<span style="color:blue">' + + '</span>'); } </script> </head> <body> <div class="chat-container"> <h2>Arduino Nano ESP32 WebSocket</h2> <div class="websocket"> <button class="connect-button" id="bt_connect" onclick="connect_onclick()">Connect</button> <span class="label">WebSocket: <span id="ws_state"><span style="color:blue">CLOSED</span></span></span> </div> <div class="chat-messages" id="chat-messages"></div> <div class="user-input"> <input type="text" id="message" placeholder="Type your message..."> <button onclick="send_onclick()">Send</button> </div> <div class="sponsor">Sponsored by <a href="">DIYables</a></div> </div> </body></html> )=====";
    • Now you have the code in two files: and index.h
    • Click Upload button on Arduino IDE to upload code to Arduino Nano ESP32.
    • Open the Serial Monitor
    • Check out the result on Serial Monitor.
    Connecting to WiFi... Connected to WiFi Arduino Nano ESP32 Web Server's IP address IP address:
    Autoscroll Show timestamp
    Clear output
    9600 baud  
    • Take note of the IP address displayed, and enter this address into the address bar of a web browser on your smartphone or PC.
    • You will see the webpage it as below:
    Arduino Nano ESP32 websocket web browser
    • Click the CONNECT button to connect the webpage to Arduino Nano ESP32 via WebSocket.
    • Type some words and send them to Arduino Nano ESP32.
    • You will see the response from Arduino Nano ESP32.
    Arduino Nano ESP32 websocket chat server

    ※ NOTE THAT:

    • If you modify the HTML content in the index.h and does not touch anything in file, when you compile and upload code to ESP32, Arduino IDE will not update the HTML content.
    • To make Arduino IDE update the HTML content in this case, make a change in the file (e.g. adding empty line, add a comment....)

    Line-by-line Code Explanation

    The above Arduino Nano ESP32 code contains line-by-line explanation. Please read the comments in the code!


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