Old LED marquee turned embedded video player

driving-led-marquee-with-rpi

[Sprite_TM] is was sent an old LED Marquee by an anonymous fan of his hacking projects. The display isn’t full color, but it’s large — 224 by 48 pixels — and he figured he could render some okay images with the bi-color diodes. In the end, he replaced the controller and turned it into a video player.

The original system work well enough, but the 100 MHz 486 industrial style PC that drove the display seems a little comical these days. After giving it a spin and testing out how it drives the display [Sprite] hooked up an FTDI chip and managed to get it playing video from his computer. Above you can see part of the opening sequence of The Simpsons.

Now that he had learned its secrets he set out to give it an embedded controller. His first attempt was with a Carambola board which he’s worked with before. That proved to be a little slow for all the pixel data he was pushing so he upgraded to a Raspberry Pi and never looked back. You can see the demo video after the jump.

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LED marquee uses discrete through-hole lights

through-hole-led-marquee

[Michael] built his own LED marquee using individual diodes. Despite his choice to forego the 8×8 or 5×7 modules we often see in these projects, his decision to spin a dedicated PCB saved him a lot of trouble during assembly. Sure, he still had to solder 180 leads on the 9×18 grid of lights, but at least he didn’t have to deal with wiring up the complex display layout.

The chip driving the display is an ATtiny24. You can see that it’s an SMD package and spans one row of the through hole LED footprint. There are way too few pins to drive a multiplexed display of this size. Instead of adding a separate driver IC he decided to design the display to use Charlieplexing. We didn’t see a schematic for the project, but judging from the board images all of the I/O pins are used by either the display itself, or the serial connection provided by that right angle pin header.

Dead motherboard wall hides an LED marquee

dead-motherboard-led-marquee

[Jared] is a computer technician so he has no problem getting his hands on broken motherboards. It looks like he tends to save the more interesting colors and has finally found a use for the waste. He built this wall art which also acts as an LED marquee.

He came up with the size and shape — 18″ by 48″ — because it meshes well with a sheet of MDF. The outline allows for a grid made up of 2″ square pixels arranged seven high and twenty-one wide. The top and bottom rows will serve as a frame for the lights, which still leaves the five pixels necessary to display characters. From there he started wiring up the LED array, which is shown in the testing phase in the clip after the break. Each pixel is cordoned off by a frame of basswood which [Jared] fabricated on the table saw. The project is finished up by cutting the motherboards down to size and mounting them with threaded rod and nuts. The board chunks are not transparent but they’re smaller than the grid so the LEDs will make the edges glow.

This reminds us of the motherboards used to mimic stained glass from several years back.

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Another take on the rear-window LED marquee

re-window-led-display

This rear-window LED marquee will help let the driver behind you know when you’re planing to change lanes or make a turn. But it also includes the ability to send a message like “Back Off!”. [Robert Dunn] was inspired to undertake the project after seeing the one we featured back in October. We’d say his has a better chance of being street legal since it uses all red LEDs.

The marquee is a matrix of 480 LEDs, all hand soldered to form the nearly transparent 48×10 grid shown above. This is important to preserve visibility out the back window of his truck. It makes us wonder about the feasibility of using SMD instead of through hole components. That would certainly make it even less visible when not illuminated, but the assembly process would be much more difficult. That’s because the 5mm LED packages fit nicely in the grid of holes he drilled in some plywood which served as the jig during soldering. The presence of leads also made the soldering process manageable.

Power to an Arduino board is provided from the cigarette lighter adapter. A set of six shift registers drive the columns while the rows are controlled by a 4017 decade counter and some transistors. Check out the blinker test video after the break to get a look at what this can do while on the road.

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BeagleBone powers this networked LED marquee

[Mahmut] calls this project SmartBox. It’s a BeagleBone controlled LED marquee which can pull down information off of the Internet.

The project started with the display itself. [Mahmut] used six 5×7 LED modules to populate a circuit board he produced himself. The low side of the modules is controlled by some MBI5026 constant current drivers, with PNP transistors on the high side. The display connects to the BeagleBone ARM board using a couple of IDC ribbon cable connectors. With that up and running he started working on the enclosure. The display board was modeled in Google SketchUp to ensure that the case design would fit it properly. The laser cut acrylic case is in two parts, the base holds the driver electronics, with a hinged section for adjusting the angle of the marquee.

So far there are a few different connectivity features which are shown off in the clip after the break. The BeagleBone has the ability to pull down Twitter feeds, notify about incoming email, and scroll messages.

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Power Index Window Display turns buildings into LED matrices

What started off as a fun project using light bulbs picked up some sponsorship and is going on tour. This project now uses LED modules controlled on the 2.4 GHz band to turn buildings into full color displays. It’s the product of students at Wrocław University of Technology in Poland. The group is something of an extra-curricular club that has been doing this sort of thing for years. But now they’ve picked up some key sponsorships which not only allowed for upgraded hardware, but sent the group on a tour of Universities around Europe. Who would’ve thought you could go on tour with something like this?

Much like the MIT project we looked at in April, this lights up the dark rooms of a grid-like building. It does go well beyond playing Tetris though. The installation sets animations to music, with a custom animation editor so that you can submit your own wares for the next show. Don’t miss the lengthy performance after the break.

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Video display from RGB strips makes it seem so easy

[Fabien] wrote in to share a link to this RGB video display which he made. He’s got some pretty cool routines that make it more functional than you would think, but first we want to comment on the construction. He used an RGB strip, which makes this look like an incredibly simple build. The strip has a data and power bus running the length of it. You can it into smaller segments, then just solder jumper wires to reconnect the buses. That’s exactly what he did here, making it what must be the fastest method of putting together a display of this size (16×10 pixels).

It’s driven by a Netduino which easily addresses the LPD8806 drivers responsible for the LEDs. It gets input from a computer via Xbee, making it easy to include data from the net, or to push visualizations. The video after the break shows a [Van Gogh] self-portrait. Since 160 pixel resolution wouldn’t do it justice, the visualization software shows a zoomed in portion of the painting which is constantly panning to let you see the entire work. It’s a fabulous effect.

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