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A giant, Arduino-powered scrolling LED sign costs $15/foot

Arduino TeamJune 29th, 2016

If you’ve ever wanted your own Times Square-like zipper, albeit a little smaller, you’re in luck. That’s because Josh Levine has created a giant scrolling LED display costing around $15 per foot, which consists of an Arduino Uno, a power supply, and seven programmable NeoPixel strips. The Maker also used a few pieces of plywood with a couple of aluminum angles glued to the top and bottom to enhance its sturdiness and appearance.

Equipped with 2,688 RGB pixels, the 12-foot-long sign is capable of showing text at 80 frames per second. Aside from basic scrolling messages, other features include a countdown timer with lookup-based gamma correction, column-by-column color control, custom fonts, sprite graphics with animation, and more.

The build is so simple, that you should be able to figure it out from looking at the pictures. Stick the strips to something, add some power, connect the Arduino data out pins to the strips’ data in pins.

The secret sauce is in the software. You can read about the parallel processing technique used here.

Bigger is better, right? Levine chose this size for his ticker only because it was the longest thing that could make it down his staircase–plus 400-pixels-long gives a refresh rate of 80 frames per second, which is just fast enough for nice animations. That being said, the Maker does note that he’d love to one day build a 100-foot-long sign “if you could find him a long enough surface to mount it on.” Until then, you can see it in action below and read all about the project on its page.