AvBrand Exploring Technology
AvBrand Exploring Technology
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LED Sign

I've always loved those LED signs you see in store windows and many other places, that happily flash advertisements at you. Althought I'm not a big fan of the ads, I did appreciate the coolness of the signs. When a recent trip to a local surplus store netted some cool but basic LED signs, I decided that it was worth the investment for a proper one with a documented interface. Several hours of searching the net and eBay led me to the Alpha 4120C sign, which I netted on eBay for a mere $275 (MSRP is $1800+). The Alpha sign protocol is fully documented, and the signs are quite capable.

After two or three days of fiddling and testing, and nearly blowing out the communications board, I got the sign doing exactly what I wanted. I assembled this short video to demo the features I've programmed into the sign thus far.

The Software

Based on the protocol manual, I wrote a relatively simple tag-based language and some basic commands that make interfacing with the sign really easy. Here are some excerpts from my Alpha Sign Communications Library:

A simple display of text in file "A":

ALPHA_newTextFile
ALPHA_addText "Sign is ready."
ALPHA_finishTextFile "A"

This is the code that is used for when a new song begins:

ALPHA_newTextFile
ALPHA_addText "<STARBURST>"

ALPHA_setCurrentLine lineTop
ALPHA_addText "<SNOW><C:RED><F:SANS7>"
ALPHA_addText "<STRING>G"
ALPHA_addText "<NOHOLD>"

ALPHA_setCurrentLine lineBottom
ALPHA_addText "<ROLL:UP><C:GREEN><F:SANS7>"
ALPHA_addText "<STRING>S"
ALPHA_finishTextFile "B"

This code loads a 120x16 picture (seen below) into the sign:

ALPHA_loadPictureIntoMemory "Z", App.Path & "\later.bmp", ALPHA_3Color

I've finally decided to open-source my Alpha library. You can grab it here: Alpha Sign Communications Library

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