IOT Message Board Puts Fourteen-Segment Displays To Work

We’re not sure, but the number of recognizable alphanumeric characters that a seven-segment display can manage seems to have more to do with human pattern recognition than engineering. It takes some imagination, and perhaps a little squinting, to discern some characters, though. Arguably better is the fourteen-segment display, which has been pressed into service in this just-for-funsies IOT message board.

As [Steve] tells the story, this is one of those “boredom-buster” projects that start with a look through the junk bin to see what presents itself. In his case, some fourteen-segment common-cathode LEDs presented themselves, and the result was a simple but fun build. [Steve] used some clever methods to get the display stuffed onto two protoboards, including mounting the current-limiting resistors cordwood-style between the boards. A Raspberry Pi drives the display through a very neatly routed ribbon cable, and the whole thing lives in a tidy wooden box.

The IOT part of the build allows the display to show messages entered on [Steve]’s web page, with a webcam live stream to close the loop. Strangely, the display seems stuck on the “HI HACKADAY!” we entered as a test after [Steve] tipped us off, so we’re not sure if we busted it or what. Apologies if we did, [Steve]. And by the way, if your cats are named [Nibble] and [Pixel], well done!

No matter what you do with them, multi-segment displays are pretty cool. But if you think they’re something new, you’ve got another think coming.

An 840 Segment Display

A while back, [limpfish] bought a few four-digit seven-segment displays from a seller on eBay. A month or two later, thirty displays ended up in [limpfish]’s mailbox. Instead of using the one or two displays he thought he ordered, [limpfish] decided to do something very cool with these bits of seven-segment displays. He’s controlling all of them at once.

[limpfish]’s usual method of controlling a lot of LEDs is the MAX7219 LED driver. This chip can easily — and cheaply — control eight common cathode seven segment displays. There’s a problem with this plan, though: the LEDs received from eBay are common anode. That’s actually not a problem, because with a little effort and even more thinking [limpfish] got these displays to work with the MAX7219 driver chip.

With chips in hand, [limpfish] designed a small breakout board for the MAX7219 and two common anode 4×7 segment displays. These displays can be daisy chained,¬†and connecting them all together results in a very weird but very cool visualization.

[limpfish] is treating this display as a bitmap display, which means it’s demo time. You can check out a 1337 01d skool¬†demo playing on this 840-segment display in the video below.

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