Old LED Marquee Turned Embedded Video Player


[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.

12 thoughts on “Old LED Marquee Turned Embedded Video Player

    1. led tv’s and an led matrix are two entirely different things.
      tv’s usually use crystal matrixes to generate colour,
      this is simply an arrangement of bi color led’s, not actually a screen as such, probably made as a text scroller for advertisement or information panels, for it to display video at all at that framerate is what is interesting (not unique but interesting)

  1. It’s amazing how many _apparent_ colours you can obtain just from a bicolour LED. Sure, they’re all variations on shades of yellow/red/green, but it really looks impressive.

    A bit like with early comic strips, when they introduced a single additional spot colour (usually red) just to give the thing a bit more life. Some examples:


Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.