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LED signs for buildings

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Tenorikuma

Yeah, a really tiny LED matrix would be ideal for the hanging arrival/departure signs.

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cteno4

problem with doing small platform led boards is that getting anything small enough would be really tough at scale. leds would need to be at a really high dpi. im guessing most of those are at something like a 5-10mm dot pitch, so in scale you are looking at something like .04mm dot pitch for the scale unit... probably never be visible.

 

at any distance i think something on the order of 10mm square would probably be the smallest you could even make out visually on a layout. i think the oled picture buttons i mentioned were on the order of 20mm square and that may be at the limit to really be able to resolve anything.

 

those led name tags are in japan as well so there are some there that you could do kanji with most likely. they would be like the older larger led boards, but with the 3mm leds they use in them you would be talking something like a 0.5m dot pitch in scale which i think is pretty large, i think those big sign boards that just stripe text are more like 20-50mm dot pitch.

 

good news is that more and more interesting things like this will be coming down the pike all the time!

 

cheers,

 

jeff

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CaptOblivious

I've been hearing lots of rumors of micro projectors (i.e., something you can connect to a laptop to project on a screen) the size of a matchbook. If they were cheap enough, you could get two and project images onto departure displays, even the tiny ceiling-mounted ones…

 

But I have a feeling these things are not cheap. I can't find anything more than articles about prototypes, though, not even any for sale to be sure.

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cteno4

 

Not quite correct Jeff - I am using both the original PVR and a PSP now. The original PVR did not 'die', just the initial menu screen got corrupted so that you cannot decipher it. If you know where the cursor is, you can still get the videos on the SD card to play OK.

 

Doug, glad to hear it works. my original one died at about 2 yrs. just wont turn on at all. even tried the battery from the other and no luck... second one i got is still working. want to make it easier to hit the buttons with some small holes in the building and a better frame. hopefully this summer.

 

have you looked at any of the little cheap units for smaller signs yet? been seeing even small japanese train stations with very large displays in the entrances! suspect flipping between info and adds.

 

cheers

 

jeff

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cteno4

I've been hearing lots of rumors of micro projectors (i.e., something you can connect to a laptop to project on a screen) the size of a matchbook. If they were cheap enough, you could get two and project images onto departure displays, even the tiny ceiling-mounted ones…

 

But I have a feeling these things are not cheap. I can't find anything more than articles about prototypes, though, not even any for sale to be sure.

 

few just hitting the market lately. bout the size of an ipod that can throw a good sized image (like 20-30"). idea is micro presentations to one or two people instead of a laptop screen. or watching a movie on the seat back in front of you on the plane!

 

http://www.partsguysusa.com/m5_view_item.html?m5:item=Nextar-Z10

 

will be fun to have these options. this is perfect for a japanese drive in i have wanted to do. during the economic downturns in japan some entrepreneurs have done small inexpensive drive ins in small parking lots at night with video projectors, using the sides of buildings as screens. would be fun to do on the layout and one of these projectors would give just the right effect. figure they will be really cheap soon, but still wondering if these are going to take off or not.

 

one of the TED demonstrations a year or so back from the media lab had these as a wearable so in the store when you passed your handheld over a barcode or rfid it would then project info about the product over the product itself instead of making you try and read it on the small handheld screen. also make a phone call and project the video of the caller on the wall in front of you like they are there talking to you. smacked of an idea in search of a market...

 

anything under 100' diagonal scale would make sense doing in n scale as it would be so small that you might not see anything except a little flashing at any distance.

 

wondering if a small display horizontally scrolling display board might be best simulated using a few flashing leds that go to a bunch of fiber optic pieces mounted in a row so you get a sort of flickering lights across the board to simulate the text scrolling or flashing up. wouldnt be a full matrix, maybe just two rows of fiber to 6-10 leds on a cycle circuit.

 

cheers

 

jeff

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Martijn Meerts

the problem with those screens is usually how to hook them up. If you take a screen out of a busted PSP, it's not like you can just hook it up to a computer and play video's or something =)

Why take the screen out - one of Enoshima's video screens is a WHOLE PSP !!!

 

Well, if the psp is busted, as in, it doesn't function anymore, the screen might still be fine. In that case you could remove the screen and try to operate it ;)

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cteno4

Well, if the psp is busted, as in, it doesn't function anymore, the screen might still be fine. In that case you could remove the screen and try to operate it ;)

 

trying to operate a bare screen will require quite a bit of logic programming and some sort of video/image supply circuitry/source. cant just snip out the screen and feed it a video source. lots of work (maybe fun if you are an ee) for the ave train hobbiest. simplicity is to just find economical units that can do it all for you that are available over the counter. you can pull the screen from these to make life easier mounting them, just have to extend the wiring for the screens. the smaller they get the more integrated they all are. one of the tiny keychain slide show one i have has the screen mounted on the back of the screen. others have them by a flexible connection.

 

big trick as doug and i have mentioned is allowing for control of the player once its mounted inside a structure! this can be a pain as the controls are often in a few different spots, making it hard to give easy access to all of the. most of these units are not meant to run all day also and even if they have a repeat function they seem to turn themselves off every couple of hours (even when on ac power) so you have to keep turning them back on and resetting the play controls.

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CaptOblivious

The adventurous should have a look here:

http://www.sparkfun.com/commerce/categories.php?c=76

 

Lots of screens, including PSP screens, and hardware for controlling them. Requires soldering skills, programming skills, and patience, but the payoff could be quite nice.

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cteno4

I was also wondering that if it is impossible to get scrolling LED signs that small, they could be simulated by creating a graphics file and running it on a small video screen ??

 

Really dont think you could ever even see any actual detail at scale for a track sign scrolling led board (ie the ones like 20cm H x 1m long -- these would be like 1.3mm high x 7mm long in scale!). thats the ones i was thinking fiber optic grid of like 20 long x 1 or 2 high connected to a few flashing leds or sequentially firing ones might give you enough of an effect that there was a scrolling board there. something that would need to be played with as i worry the effect at scale might totally fall apart at any real viewing distance.

 

my current thought for having some action cheap is to play with the little keychain photo players. they give you screens like 10-20mm on a side to make something like 1.5m-3m sized led boards you see in the entry areas with lots of tracks listed. then create graphics that look like an led train board list and have a sequence of them with items on the list changing every few seconds (you can set these units to the rate you want the picts to come up). hope to play with this soon this summer with the couple i have here to see how well it works. if anyone has pictures of these larger led sign boards at station entrances (where they are listing multiple tracks) i would love to see them for reference.

 

cheers,

 

jeff

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cteno4

The adventurous should have a look here:

http://www.sparkfun.com/commerce/categories.php?c=76

 

Lots of screens, including PSP screens, and hardware for controlling them. Requires soldering skills, programming skills, and patience, but the payoff could be quite nice.

 

problem is getting the documentation on what is there on the system and what you need to do to drive and supply them (not too much a problem if its a new part). I looked into this a long time back when this stuff was really expensive to see what i could get surplus and then do something like that. first problem i ran into is that a lot of the stuff you could buy as salvage parts cheap had very little info on what you needed to drive them (unless a new part). salvaging from an existing unit usually there was no info and you would just have to try to figure it out on your own. i realized it was way too much work and large learning curve (going to have to raise my ee skills a few notches) to do that would take all the hobby time to get that done. fine if thats what you want to spend all your time on or are an ee (or really well versed in electronics) cool, but i want to spend most of my hobby time on the trains more and not loose it all to electronics. i have a decent electronics background, tad of logic circuit theory and programming and wasnt near enough to get me going quickly on a project like this.

 

sorry, dont mean to sound like a ney sayer, just that the stuff is so cheap now that there are lots of creative things you can do with cheap off the shelf stuff with just a few minor tweaks that dont require you to know much about electronics or logic circuits or programming. i like to see those that are not ee types and with little to no electronics background have some fun just adapting simple stuff in creative ways w/o having to start designing or kitbashing circuits and programming! there are those out there with the ee background, who can do this kind of stuff as easily as we do basic layout construction, that do fantastic stuff for automation like this and more power to them!

 

cheers

 

jeff

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Bernard

Jeff - It's funny that you should talk about the Photo keychains, last night my wife programmed a few of them as "end of the year gifts" for her class-Moms with photos of the class throughout the year.

The images are a little dark and I think they're between $10-$15 USD, but it should work.

With Photoshop (or another application) you could make signs and download them into the keychains.

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Bernard

Does anybody know or have a link to a video to actually see these LED signs working? ( Hey, I work in film, a pictures worth a thousand words :grin)

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cteno4

 

Jeff, both that AV player and the PSP can play all day at an exhibition without any manual intervention. You just have to make sure the settings are correct before hiding it in the building. Having said that, when I first got the PSP with that intention (OK, and also to play games and listen to music/watch movies !!!), it had a function to repeat music tracks, but not videos - so I was thwarted. Later on, I am glad to say that a software update added the video repeat functionality  :laugh:   

 

doug,

 

yes i always set the PVR player on the loop function, but usually just turns itself off 1-4 times a day during the shows. not sure what sets it off, sometimes goes for 4-5 hrs other times only 30 minutes. I believe those PVRs were pretty flaky. they were pretty much first generation (i think they started at like $350) and we got them cheap when the company dumped due to high failure rates (i learned later). I bet it is due to too dense of components and overheating. many first gen small electronics like this rely on more custom circuitry and when getting it in a small item means more heat. heat then can make some parts fail at a certain temp but then work when cooled off. second gen usually there are more custom chips for the new things happening on that type of device and things get simpler and less prone to this sort of intermittent thing. ive noticed mine gets pretty warm when playing long times.

 

I was toying with the idea of pulling it a part and mounting the screen on the outside of the building and leaving all the boards bare on the inside of the building and wiring the control contacts to the outside. the only problem is that one rocker/push switch which is hard to get off the main board. the way its installed or even get at it for rewiring. also a bit afraid to attempt this with this unit as if it goes poof there is really no hope of replacing. think i may limp along with this one and then replace with cheaper stuff later when i find something hardy that i can grab a few backups for if i go to the trouble of a more custom installation.

 

cheers,

 

jeff

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cteno4

Does anybody know or have a link to a video to actually see these LED signs working? ( Hey, I work in film, a pictures worth a thousand words :grin)

 

for the skinny signs out on the platforms you can see them on the wakamatsu cam. actually gives you and idea of what you would see from a few feet away if you were able to do something scale for these long thin units. you cant really make out any detail just the affect of some flickering and movement (actually the way i can tell the cam feed has not locked up sometimes is to look for motion on the platform signs when its dead at the station).

 

anyone traveling to japan it would be wonderful to grab a few clips on the digital camera as video and post on youtube of the current digital video and sinage thats going on in japan now. they are so far ahead of us in the states here on implementing this sort of stuff!

 

cheers,

 

jeff

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cteno4

Here's an item that shows promise:

http://www.made-in-china.com/showroom/cnliftcrane/product-detailbqCJyfLXXxil/China-1-1-Mini-Portable-Pocket-Digital-Photo-Frame-Keychain-with-Led-Light-Torch.html

 

It's 1.1 inches wide, which works out to about 4 meters in 1:150 scale — about the size of a medium-sized outdoor TV/advertising display.

 

yep this is the type i have (and one smaller thats not happy), maybe the same guts on the 1.1" as that looks to be the size of mine (no led light though...). got mine for like $12 at one of the local chain computer stores. last week i saw some on sale for under $10.

 

the 1.1" has the screen on a flexible connector (short) so it could be mounted pretty thin on the outside of a building and then the board just inside the building potentially. i have not been able to play with this one yet as its only works with a pc and my pc was dead, but replaced a few weeks back with a netbook so ill try and start fiddling with the features of the slide show. trick will be getting it to stay on and not turn itself off i expect as this is battery driven and they probably want it to have auto shutoff. it will need 5vdc to drive it as its usb powered (recharged). other interesting thing will be to see how stable the static memory is on this. hopefully its true flash memory as it would be a pain to reload this if you dont use if for a while. expect it is static, but for the price never know till you try and kill it!

 

cheers

 

jeff

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Tenorikuma

I got the impression it would play a slideshow of pictures, which is good enough for some purposes.

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cteno4

I got the impression it would play a slideshow of pictures, which is good enough for some purposes.

 

Yep thats what these do just play a slide show. usually can set the rate of the show. trick will be if you can set the show to keep looping indefinitely (till you turn it off) for longer use on the train layout. ill see if i can get mine working tonight with the netbook and play with it. the little tiny cube one i had (bout 0.8" square screen) died pretty soon after getting it. it would only stay on for a few minutes at a time, i think due to its tiny battery. died before i could see if i could figure out a way to keep it on all the time with a power feed instead of the battery.

 

there are some cheap small video players around now in the $25-50 range i have been seeing that may also be a good solution for larger, more video oriented boards.

 

i was thinking of these keychain slide show units for station entrance track boards (the big ones showing what trains on what tracks) that could just be graphic files reduced down that change once and a while and maybe have an ad space on one side that would change now and then. or also use them as a small advertising board that would change now and then on the side of a smaller building.

 

I have also seen a few of the digital picture frames that can play an avi file. some of these maybe small enough to make a big video advertising screen (like psp size). these are meant to say on so might work well instead of a portable pvr system.

 

anyhow fun to have lots of goodies to play with and they are getting cheap so easy to fiddle with and get creative w/o breaking the piggy bank or taking all your time up learning logic circuits and serial feeds (i looked into writing some usb drivers, not fun at all, aint the old rs232 days anymore!)

 

cheers

 

jeff

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scott

This thread is great therapy. Now I feel like much less of a geek.  :grin

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Bernard

 

This thread is great therapy. Now I feel like much less of a geek.   :grin

 

 

LOL well said! :grin

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cteno4

 

This thread is great therapy. Now I feel like much less of a geek.   :grin

 

meaning the rest of us on this thread are uber geeks???? Im afraid, scott, are right there with the rest of us... ;-p

 

these are the kinds of things i love, adapting widgets into new fun and surprising lives!

 

cheers,

 

01101010 01100101 01100110 01100110

 

ps the ru21 auto reverser/pause unit just came in! hope to start setting it up and testing it this week. the other cool thing about it other than the 5 pause places you can set is that its has its own power supply and throttle built into it so you dont have to have and external throttle to attach to it! also appears to have a tad of momentum/break with it but not sure yet. if this sucker performs its going to be a great unit! jr

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scott

meaning the rest of us on this thread are uber geeks???? Im afraid, scott, are right there with the rest of us... ;-p

 

Yeah, it's true, but I couldn't resist--the way this little thread about signs led so quickly into hardcore programming and hardware-modification discussions was pretty amazing. :-)

 

01101010 01100101 01100110 01100110

 

Now you're talking my language....

 

ps the ru21 auto reverser/pause unit just came in! hope to start setting it up and testing it this week. the other cool thing about it other than the 5 pause places you can set is that its has its own power supply and throttle built into it so you dont have to have and external throttle to attach to it! also appears to have a tad of momentum/break with it but not sure yet. if this sucker performs its going to be a great unit! jr

 

See, now there's a geeky device I could use.....  :laugh:

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Bernard

[quote author=cteno4 link=topic=1191.msg10915#msg10915 date=1245779986

 

ps the ru21 auto reverser/pause unit just came in! hope to start setting it up and testing it this week. the other cool thing about it other than the 5 pause places you can set is that its has its own power supply and throttle built into it so you dont have to have and external throttle to attach to it! also appears to have a tad of momentum/break with it but not sure yet. if this sucker performs its going to be a great unit! jr

 

Jeff - I think I'm going to kick myself for not going the extra bucks and upgrading to that unit. :BangHead:

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cteno4

 

Jeff - I think I'm going to kick myself for not going the extra bucks and upgrading to that unit. :BangHead:

 

well i hope its as good as it looks. joe, a chap i know in texas, picked one up second hand on ebay (probably one of the first units out!) to use on a tram loop w/in large ttrak corner units and it looked great, but one of the reversing circuits just stopped working. looks like miniatronics is no help in fixing it either. he is checking their boards to see if anyone has any ideas. this could be a downside to these, but i hope not. we will see with the unit i have. i plan to set up a loop on a piece of foam core and try and test it all out this week to see what it does. ill take some videos and postem.

 

im really hoping this will be a simple system to use on ttrak modules and just put a photoresistor in each module if it has a potential stop then just plug in the modules you want to the unit to have up to 5 stops. looks like you can cheat the system and just put a resistor into the reversing circuits so it just keeps on doing the pause stops (basically it thinks the resistance never changes then on the reversing circuits with a resistor instead of the photoresistor). photo resistors are only like $1 ea. joe tried this and it seemed to work on his (his current unit now may only be good for that!)

 

cheers,

 

jeff

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cteno4

 

Yeah, it's true, but I couldn't resist--the way this little thread about signs led so quickly into hardcore programming and hardware-modification discussions was pretty amazing. :-)

 

Me too, had to poke you back! actually i was the curmudgeon pushing for the simpler solutions not requiring the hardcore programming and hardware so i kind of loose my propeller head rights i guess... getting too lazy in my old age or just limited time and energy so picking my battles more carefully to spend time on...

 

cheers

 

jeff

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