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Old LED scrolling marque sign.... LED boards of any use???

Discussion in 'Lights - Store Bought and Home Made' started by petek157, May 26, 2012.

  1. petek157

    petek157 New Elf

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    Hello,


    Thought this would be as good a place as any to ask. A few years back I bought an older led scrolling marque at an auction not even thinking that the sign would work for what I paid. Turns out plugged it in....thing works great! EXCEPT... No controller. So I can't control what the sign says. I have posted in numerous forums trying to get a way to use whats there and control the sign. No dice!


    So my new question is, can I use the boards with all of the leds on them and make something DIY to control them. I took a short video of the boards inside the sign.


    Take a look. If anything comes to mind please let me know. There are a ton of LED's on these boards. Sure would be sweet to be able to get some kind of use out of them. If you need more info just ask.


    Link to the video: Digital LED Sign


    Thanks,
    Pete
     
  2. David_AVD

    David_AVD Bite my shiny metal ass!

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    Hi Pete,
    I have a couple of "variable message" signs at work that I got free/cheap. One is a mono colour (red) one with tethered controller and the other is dual colour (red / green) one with a serial interface.

    I don't have any protocol details or the original PC software for the serial controlled one. I have thought about making new control front ends for them, but haven't got around to checking out what LED drive method each unit uses.

    Maybe check what sort of chip are on the LED boards themselves. If they are a fairly standard shift register type, it might be easy enough to write some code for an Arduino board to control it.
     
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    petek157

    petek157 New Elf

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    Ok. When I go to the office tomorrow I will explore a bit more on the led boards themselves and see what I am working with. It would be great to get some use out of this thing.


    I will post what ever I find tomorrow.


    Thanks
    Pete
     
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    petek157

    petek157 New Elf

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    Well I finally had a chance to open up the case of this sign and here are a couple pictures of the LED boards. Im hopeing that someone can advise me on what I can do to get these things lit up.


    One picture is the hookup, one is the IC, and one is just a pic of the boards out of the case.



    Again let me know if you need anymore information.


    Thanks,
    Pete
     

    Attached Files:

  5. David_AVD

    David_AVD Bite my shiny metal ass!

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    I have used those same driver chips before. They are a fairly standard shift register style of control.

    Not sure if you could use the controller from the ledtricks (right name?) project on the DIYC forum?
     
  6. TimW

    TimW Full Time Elf

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    ooh, nice display
    I'm pretty sure you could breath some life into that rig!
    First thing to explore would be the serial interface - I assume that the white box in the video is a 56k modem, so it probably would have been connected to a phone line to receive instructions on what to display.
    Looking at the boards - it looks like there is a 'serial interface' connector (that will probably be hooked to the modem). With a bit of detective work you could connect that serial port to a PC and start trying to figure out a communication protocol (would require a few 'educated guesses!)
    The controller board - is that a zilog Z80! wow - take me back!
    As David suggests, I reckon a modified Triks-C would be able to talk directly to the boards (they have a data, clock, strobe lines similar to the ledtriks). If that worked you could possibly come up with a way to drive the boards using Vixen/LTC. DIYC has a section on the ledtriks.
    Or there's the arduino option. I reckon there'd be sketches about that would do similar things.
    So - bottom line. Dont strip those boards for parts just yet!
     
  7. TimW

    TimW Full Time Elf

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    oh, just googled some of the board codes ...

    Yes Peter - you were on the right track with a nerdkit!

    Judging by the feedback you already have, so was I! :)
     
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    petek157

    petek157 New Elf

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    This is all great news.... I would really like to get this guy up and running in my display. I am far from an electrical engineer or a programmer, so its going to take some research but Im on it. If you guys come up with anything else that might help let me know.


    Thanks for your input guys,
    Pete
     
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    petek157

    petek157 New Elf

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  10. David_AVD

    David_AVD Bite my shiny metal ass!

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    Impossible to say without knowing what type of data output is has. You need a "shift register" style of interface.
     
  11. BradsXmasLights

    BradsXmasLights WiFi Interactive

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    I don't know if this will be any help, but both my LED signs use a variation of what appears to be the Alpha Sign Communication Protocol.
    http://www.adaptivedisplays.com/Documentation/questions.php?questionid=149

    My Jaycar 50x7 Pixel sign uses a format 1-btye format transmition as described in the doc.

    But the 128x16 Pixel unit i got from Ray only seems to pickup the the 2-btye "ASCII only" version of the protocol. Reverse engineering the RS232 output from various "Message Editor" programs floating around only (Msgeditor.exe v7.00 / v7.01 / v7.00c) all has slightly different serial port methods too for what appears to be the same end result.

    So I would first off try downloading some LED message editor programs to see if they bring the sign to life.
     
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    petek157

    petek157 New Elf

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    Great info, I appreciate you keeping this in the back of your mind and mentioning things when you come across them. I have it still here on my bench and am working on sequencing my halloween display and that sign so I will let you guys know what comes of it.


    Thanks again,
    Pete
     

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