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Retro Chaser Sign Lights Up Your Life

lighted-sign

[Gnsart] builds props often used in the film industry. He’s created an amazing retro Vegas style light chaser sign. The sign was started as a job a few years ago. While [Gnsart] could handle the physical assembly, the cost of a mechanical light chaser pushed the project over budget. The sign project was cancelled back then, but he never forgot it.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago. [Gnsart] happened upon the Arduino community. He realized that with an Arduino Uno and a commonly available relay board, he could finally build the sign. He started with some leftover cedar fence pickets. The pickets were glued up and then cut into an arrow shape. The holes for the lights were then laid out and drilled with a paddle bit. [Gnsart] wanted the wood to look a bit aged, so he created an ebonizing stain. 0000 steel wool, submerged and allowed to rust in vinegar for a few days, created a liquid which was perfect for the task. The solution is brushed on and removed just like stain, resulting in an aged wood. We’ve seen this technique used before with tea, stain, and other materials to achieve the desired effect.

[Gnsart] then built his edging. 22 gauge steel sheet metal was bent to fit the outline in a bending brake. The steel sheet was stapled to the wood, then spot welded to create one continuous piece. Finally, the light sockets were installed and wired up to the Arduino. [Gnsart] first experimented with mechanical relays, and while we love the sound, we’re not sure how long they’d last. He wisely decided to go with solid state relays for the final implementation. The result speaks for itself. LEDs are great – but there is just something about the warm glow of low-wattage incandescent lights.

[Read more...]

Replacement drivers for old LED signs

led-sign-driver-replacement

The LED signs sitting idle on the left are brought to life by an Arduino replacement driver shown to the right. The big one is made by Signature Electronic and used as an advertising display like you would see in front of a business. [Bob Davis] picked it up on eBay being sold as non-working. After some power supply repair he set to the task of driving them with his own hardware.

The images he shared give us a good look at the parts used on the sign. The display area is made up of a set of eight 8×5 pixel LED modules. Each module has a key and slot in the top and bottom to help align the rows properly when building a larger array. They use TPIC6B595 shift registers (the same ones seen in yesterday’s low-res gaming hack) and 74HCT138 decoders to multiplex the pixels. Most of this info is shared in the second part of his post.

He hasn’t quite gotten the larger sign to run properly. Each row displays the same data but one pixel lower than the last. If you’ve got some insight on why this is happening we’re sure he’d like to hear about it.

[via Dangerous Prototypes]

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.

[Read more...]

Rewiring a free carnival sign

Late last September, Hackaday along with other hackerspaces including North Street Labs, 1.21 Jigawatts, Maker Twins, made their way to the NYC Maker Faire via the Red Bull Creation contest. The objectives of the contest were simple: build a game in 72 hours, have people vote on it, and join the Red Bull crew in Queens for a carnival-like atmosphere.

When the Maker Faire was over, Red Bull had some leftover props from their Midway at Maker Faire setup, including a few illuminated carnival signs. Without any use for them, they graciously gave Hackaday, North Street, Maker Twins and the Jigawatts the signs to their respective rides.

Now that things have settled down and the rides have returned to their home base, the folks over at North Street decided to improve their sign. At Maker Fair, these signs were illuminated by 50 incandescent bulbs, all wired on the same circuit. [Steve] over at North Street had the awesome idea of adding a persistence of vision aspect to the sign, so work began on wiring every fourth bulb in series.

To drive the light circuits, North Street repurposed the Arduino Relay shield originally used for the lights on the Centrifury, their competitive centrifuge and spinning hell of a game. In the video after the break, you can see the addition of POV lights really brings out the carnival atmosphere. A literally brilliant build, and a wonderful addition to the scariest game ever made.

[Read more...]

One way to reuse your Christmas lights post-holiday

[Andrew] shows us one way to reuse all those strands of Christmas lights you used for decoration this year. He had a friend that was helping with stage props for a local musical and ended up using his skills to build a lighted sign with some animation capabilities.

The original plan was to cut out letters for a sign by hand and ring them with white Christmas lights. It is possible to hand cut parts reasonably well, but [Andrew] knew he could get a much better result in less time using a CNC ShopBot to make them. He didn’t know the spacing for the lights so waited and drilled holes for them by hand. Each strand is connected to a relay, then driven by an Arduino. They turned out great as you can see in the clip after the break.

This is a timely hack, because it uses plain old while incandescent bulb strands which will be going on sale in the next few days. Usually you can get them on clearance for a dollar or less so plan ahead and hit the big box store early. [Read more...]

Custom Massive LED panel lights up the party

giant-led-sign

The guys at BuildLounge wrote us to share a giant LED sign they came across in the submission pile for their “Win a Laser Cutter” contest that’s currently under way. [Stephen Shaffer] helps run a huge party called Fantastic Planet, for which the group typically outsources the lighting arrangements. They got tired of hiring light guys several times a year and built their own mega display for the festivities instead.

The LED sign consists of 1,474 LEDs that output well over 10,000 lumens. The sign was produced for just about $800, which is very reasonable for a display of its size. The whole thing is controlled by a pair of Arduinos paired with 34 MIC5891 shift registers, all mounted on custom designed PCBs that the group produced in-house.

The display looks great, but don’t take our word for it – check out the video below to see it in action.

If you are interested in taking a closer look at how it was built, swing by the build thread to see more details.

[Read more...]

Arduino helps you ski Copper

[Dwight's] been working on a long-term project to add a status board for the ski runs at Copper Mountain ski resort. The board will feature an 8×8 LED module for each run that displays a green O for open trails, a green G for groomed trails, and a red X for closed trails. He’s also got a status board with LEDs embedded in a trail map.

The system relies on SPI for each LED module. An Arduino Mega uses a Xbee module to pull down XML data wirelessly and display it on this board. Since the trail report is already available online it’s just a matter of parsing the data in a useful way.

He’s not quite done with the whole thing yet, but keep an eye out for it if you are planning to ski Copper Mountain.

[via Tom's Guide]