Serializing Dickens to LEDs

ch00fmas12

[ch00f] managed to capture some holiday spirit this year by translating all of A Christmas Carol to scrolling text. Dickens’s work has long since entered public domain, which led [ch00f] to wire up a GeekCatch programmable display from Amazon. It has a low refresh rate, which means videos look a bit goofy, but it’s perfectly acceptable for text. [ch00f] ditched the remote control and instead used the display’s serial connection to program in the novella. Unfortunately, he could not find any documentation for the serial protocol, but he was able to reverse engineer it with some freeware applications found online.

It takes over six hours for the sign to spit out the entirety of A Christmas Carol, which easily surpassed the display’s limited text buffer. [ch00f] instead had to send text to the display one paragraph at a time via a custom Python script. This solution takes advantage of the sign’s fixed-width font to estimate the time it takes for each character to scroll by, then immediately feeds the sign a new line.

Check out the blog post for a quick teardown of the display itself and for a detailed description of the protocol in case you decide to use this display for a project. Stick around for a video below!

Continue reading “Serializing Dickens to LEDs”

What kind of LED matrix does your vodka come with?

Medea Vodka comes with a bottle that includes a blue scrolling LED Marquee. OK, great? It’s an interesting marketing ploy but kind of a waste don’t you think? Friends, it’s up to us to repurpose this  hardware. It can’t be that difficult to hack into the programmable display and make it do your bidding. Our friend Google tells us that you can get your hands on this 750 milliliter bottle for about $40. That’s around $25 more than a passable grade of Vodka sells for, a mere pittance for the challenge of cracking open the hardware for fun and profit. Don’t forget to document your work and tip us off once you’ve accomplished something. See Medea’s programming instructional video after the break. Oh yeah, remember to hack first and drink later… cheap soldering irons get hot!

Continue reading “What kind of LED matrix does your vodka come with?”