It’s pretty hard to deny that split-flap displays are incredibly awesome. This one has been a long time coming, and it’s not a refab or surplus build. [Tom] fabricated these beautiful alpha-numeric split flaps from scratch.
Having recently seen an alarm-clock split flap hack just a week or so ago we found ourselves wondering where in the world people manage to find this type of awesome mechanical hardware. If you can’t get it out of grampa’s attic, the next best thing is to build it from the ground up.
This was not a build to be taken lightly. [Tom] started years ago, and part way into the project we looked at some of the control hardware for the installation. Make sure that you dig deep into his blog posts. It’s the only way you’ll put together the whole picture of how he ended up with each belt and stepper motor driven character module.
18 thoughts on “Split Flap Display: If You Can’t Find It, Built It”
Fortunately we got our hands on some split flap characters from the german Railway.
If you want to play around with them try http://fbm.cntx.de
There are some more for rent: http://split-flap.com
another source is older airport terminals they used to use the same displays.
An Italian company makes them for the Penn Stations in Newark and Philadelphia. Those historic stations still have working flip timetables; the one in Philly is seven feet high.
What did these cost to produce? That’s a lot of moving parts!
More to the point, where the hell are they getting cheap timing belts? They’re like $15 each even at chinese suppliers. I’m going through hell trying to find cheap pulleys and small belts for another mechanical project. Anybody have any suggestions?
$15? Even kevlar reinforced (which is pretty typical), that’s really steep. Do any of these meet your needs?
Wrong video? Out of scale model cars and figurines.
Jump to 1:30, the display is shown in action there.
Wanted to stop traffic ? with spinning toy cars ? you would need to give out a lot of free LSD to do that. or just go with the tried and true semi/fully naked women approach.
Split Flap Display? I thought that was another name for a crotch flash. Still since the displays are cool and hard to get it’s nice to know you could build your own.
“If You Can’t Find It, Built It”(sic)?????????????
I’ve been wanting to create a working replica of the Swan Countdown Timer in Lost by making/converting a split-slap display. But I haven’t been able to find any old split-flap clocks around town, and haven’t found any 3d models of a split-flap display. Are there files for this project, or does anyone know of where I might find some any models of a display?
where can I buy an old airport flip-flap display? working or not? just as a wall decor – I’m in the aviation industry and would love one of these!
I want to buy.
This company here is pretty popular and are making these things from scratch outside of the Philly area:
I felt inspired by this and Penn Station’s old sign so I created my own. It’s not as polished as this but check it out.
Any chance you have instructables on these or more information so we can build our own as well? :-)
I am setting up a F&B establishment and would love to showcase a split flap display system for my menu within my “airport themed” bistro bar. Would love to know of any manufacturing companies that are still doing the boards and if so, how long will the lead time be. We are looking at;
53″ / 135cm (8 Rows)
96″ / 244cm (32 Columns)
Hp: +65 9487 7083
Would appreciate if we could hear from you!
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