The Partyscroller LED Display

As [Plasma2002] put it, “Those jumbo screens at concerts that display your text messages can be a lot of fun. Wouldn’t it be great if you could have the same thing for your own parties or social gatherings?” The answer to this question came in the form of this hack, a scrolling marquee sign that guests simply had to text to get it to display messages. Apparently guests at the party loved the device, and who wouldn’t?

More importantly for [HAD] though, is that [Plasma2002] decided to show everyone how it’s done. He gives us an overview of the process via a nicely illustrated block diagram, then breaks everything down into the actual code used. A Google voice account is used as the dial-in number and everything is kept anonymous. A “bad-word” filter is used to keep everything semi-appropriate.

Really a cool device, and one that we hope will show up at hacker’s parties everywhere. Who knows, maybe something like this could enjoy mainstream success as well. Check out the video after the break to see this device in action!

16 thoughts on “The Partyscroller LED Display

  1. A “bad word filter” to keep things “appropriate” ?

    WTF ? Given the probable target audience, my bet is on 100% of said “party” crowd already knowing the words the “bad word filter” is trying to keep out.

    Didn’t think censorship in the “hacker” community would be a badge of honor. In the corporate world of pretentious phonies, it’s a given. In the ‘maker space’ realm, I would’ve thought it would be absent.

    Here’s a great scene that’s effing hilarious!
    Would it make it past the “bad word filter” ?

  2. I did exactly thiis 18 months ago for my daughter’s 13th party.
    With a word filter – and a carousel of the most recent 5 messages – so you had a decent chance of your text being seen.

    It was a real hit as a one-off, but when exploring ways to capitalise on it…
    I discovered the telcos demand an extraordinary percentage of the TXT charges, and premium SMS (even inbound only) has been destroyed by game & porn subscription services – to the point that many companies are simply letting the market implode.

    One of the good outcomes of rampant capitalism and greed.

  3. At one of the HOPE conferences in NYC, they had a similar setup except it was overlayed across the bottom of the projected videos like a closed caption stream.

  4. Seams similar to blinkenlights project, nice party favor, perhaps make a game from it, get two teams of players about 5+ people on each team, have them all send txt at the same time, first team to get their message up gets to make the other team chug! Hey beats the heck out of throwing ping pong balls at cups, and the more you drink the slower the txting. nice write up none the less.

  5. I’d be interested to find out how you decoded the betabrite’s protocol for programming. Are you programming it via IR or via serial? The script points to /dev/ttyS0 but is it true serial or are you using an IR bit-banger to send?

  6. There’re quite a few refereences to the Betabrite protocol out there – google helps… (it’s not pretty!)

    Or you can put your own display together with something like the 0832 display boards at Sure Electronics.

  7. I love using a phone number, but couldn’t a simple email address work too? I mean its not like everyone cant text to an email address.

  8. I hate to be negative, but couldn’t they have picked a better picture? The large colorful thing that draws the eye closest to the center of this picture has nothing to do with the hack. Its just an odd picture to accompany the article.

  9. I set out to set this up but my web host doesn’t allow remote calls to their MySql server!

    All was not lost thanks to Gmail’s “label” filter and IMAP support for perl (Mail::IMAPClient).

    The script just waits for mail to land in the right Gmail folder and the rest is about the same but without all the server-side work!

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