I'm using a MAX7219 and 6 (six) seven segment displays I used my own board and two purchased on ebay - no difference in operation. MOSI, and CLK are correct and verified with my scope (Tektronics) CS (chip select) is pin 22 (for no particular reason) SPI is set to Mode0 Yes, I have tried other pins as CS - all work the same. My MEGA board can be powered by USB or 9.9 VDC wall-wart - no difference Trial code is shown below, and works properly. Placed 47 uF 50V cap on display board between +5 and GND - no effect Placed 220 uF 35V cap on display board between +5 and GND - no effect MOSI, SCK and CS are verified with scope to be 5 VDC. Compiler and D/L applications are set to MEGA and seem to work properly.

PROBLEM IS THIS: Code compiles and D/L properly into Mega. Mega resets, and about 50% of the time all digits illuminate (not executing code properly?) Digit 0 (most right hand digit is enabled) never works. I can press the reset on the Mega as many times as I want - no effect.

HOWEVER if I pull either +5 or GND to the MAX7219 module, and reset my Mega, it works perfectly. Yes, this is obviously a reset problem, but I've never seen a reset problem before with the MAX7219. I put delays at the beginning at short delays in the SPI communications to no effect.

Has anyone ever seen anything like this before? I have no hair left to pull. I'm thinking maybe to use a MOSFET to turn the MAX7219 on after the MEGA is up and running. Any suggestions are appreciated.

 //version 0.1
 #include <SPI.h>
 #define LOAD_PIN 22

 void maxTransfer(uint8_t address, uint8_t value) {

 digitalWrite(LOAD_PIN, LOW);      // Ensure LOAD/CS is enabled (LOW)
 SPI.transfer(address);            // Send the register address
 SPI.transfer(value);              // Send the value
 digitalWrite(LOAD_PIN, HIGH);     // Tell chip to toggle in data


void setup() {

 pinMode(LOAD_PIN, OUTPUT);          // Set port pin to output

                 // Reverse the SPI transfer to send the MSB first  
 SPI.beginTransaction(SPISettings(10000000, MSBFIRST, SPI_MODE0)); 

                 // Start SPI with attributes in "SPI.beginTransaction"
 maxTransfer(0x09, 0xFF);           // Enable mode B
 maxTransfer(0x0A, 0x0F);            // Use highest intensity
 maxTransfer(0x0B, 0x00);           // Only scan digit 0
 maxTransfer(0x0C, 0x01);            // Turn on chip

void loop() {

  // Loop through each code
  for (uint8_t i = 0; i < 0x10; ++i)
    maxTransfer(0x01, i);
  • Try adding a pull-down resistor to the CS pin. That way the pin isn't floating during power-up.
    – Gerben
    Apr 21 '16 at 13:50
  • 1
    @Gerben - I added a pulldown resistor and it improved the reset about 50% of the time. Under SPI.begin I added: maxTransfer(0x00, 0x0); // flush SPI and now it resets properly each time. I don't know how I missed these things! Thank you very much for your help. Apr 23 '16 at 12:28

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