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Topic: Countdown to Maker Faire on a Betabrite LED sign (Read 6174 times) previous topic - next topic


Saw that the Call for Makers had launched for Maker Faire Bay Area...only 99 days left! They have a neat live countdown on their site, so I decided to use an Arduino to build a similar countdown timer...except BIG. I used a Betabrite sign I got from the electronics flea market, a Seeeduino, and a ChronoDot. The Time Library was a big help. More details here: http://macetech.com/blog/node/115

Unique RGB LED Modules and Arduino shields: http://www.macetech.com/store


Feb 12, 2012, 01:44 am Last Edit: Feb 12, 2012, 01:52 am by macegr Reason: 1
Oh, and here's the code in case anyone would like to see how to talk to a Betabrite LED sign, or use the Time library:
Code: [Select]
// Betabrite Countdown
// Counts down the time until Maker Faire Bay Area 2012
// Uses Betabrite 1040 display, Arduino, and ChronoDot

#include <Time.h> // Time Library
#include <Wire.h> // Wire for RTC
#include <DS1307RTC.h> // DS3231/ChronoDot works like DS1307

time_t MFBA; // Start time of Maker Faire
time_t difftime; // difference between current and target time
int diff_seconds;
int diff_minutes;
int diff_hours;
int diff_days;

// Initialize RTC and Betabrite sign
void setup() {
 Serial.begin(9600); // set baud to 9600
 UCSR0C = (2<<UPM00)|(0<<USBS0)|(2<<UCSZ00)|(0<<UCPOL0); // configure for 7E1 not 8N1

 setSyncProvider(RTC.get); // set sync to use the ChronoDot
 setSyncInterval(10); // sync every 10 seconds if possible

 // check whether sync worked
 if(timeStatus()!= timeSet)
   Serial.println("Unable to sync with the RTC");
   Serial.println("RTC has set the system time");

 tmElements_t MFBA_elements; // elements array to construct Maker Faire start time

 // 10:00 AM on May 19th, 2012
 MFBA_elements.Second = 0;
 MFBA_elements.Minute = 0;
 MFBA_elements.Hour = 10;
 MFBA_elements.Wday = 7;
 MFBA_elements.Day = 19;
 MFBA_elements.Month = 5;
 MFBA_elements.Year = 2012 - 1970;

 MFBA = makeTime(MFBA_elements); // Unix timestamp of Maker Faire start time

 // Initialize Betabrite memory locations
 for(int i = 0; i < 5; i++) Serial.write((byte)0x00); // auto detect baud
 Serial.write((byte)0x01); // SOH
 Serial.print("Z00"); // All displays
 Serial.write((byte)0x02); // STX
 Serial.print("E$AAU0100FF001BL00C00000"); // Set mem locations for text and string
 Serial.write((byte)0x04); // ETX


 // Initialize text file
 // String "1" will be called whenever scrolling animation restarts
 for(int i = 0; i < 5; i++) Serial.write((byte)0x00); // auto detect baud
 Serial.write((byte)0x01); // SOH
 Serial.print("Z00"); // All displays
 Serial.write((byte)0x02); // STX
 Serial.print("AA"); // Text string
 Serial.write((byte)0x1B); // ESC
 Serial.write((byte)0x20); // Line number
 Serial.print("a"); // Scroll right to left
 Serial.print("1 until Maker Faire"); // Call string 1 plus text
 Serial.write((byte)0x04); // ETX


time_t systime; // holds current time for diff calculation

void loop() {

 if (systime != now()) { // wait for new second to do anything
   systime = now();
   difftime = MFBA - systime; // subtract current time from Maker Faire time
   diff_seconds = difftime % 60; // get seconds
   difftime /= 60; // convert to minutes
   diff_minutes = difftime % 60; // get minutes
   difftime /= 60; // convert to hours
   diff_hours = difftime % 24; // get hours
   difftime /= 24; // convert to days
   diff_days = difftime; // get days

   // Update string on Betabrite with updated countdown
   for(int i = 0; i < 5; i++) Serial.write((byte)0x00); // auto baud rate
   Serial.write((byte)0x01); // SOH
   Serial.print("Z00"); // All displays
   Serial.write((byte)0x02); // STX
   Serial.print("G1"); // Write to string 1
   digitalClockDisplay(); // Send countdown string
   Serial.write((byte)0x04); // ETX

// modified routine from Time Library example
void digitalClockDisplay(){
 Serial.print(" Days ");
 Serial.print(" Hours ");
 Serial.print(" Minutes ");
 Serial.print(" Seconds");

// routine from Time Library example
void printDigits(int digits){
 // utility function for digital clock display: prints preceding colon and leading 0
 if(digits < 10)
Unique RGB LED Modules and Arduino shields: http://www.macetech.com/store


Feb 12, 2012, 01:40 pm Last Edit: Feb 12, 2012, 01:43 pm by tytower Reason: 1
The first link I followed did not work The others I followed on th site did work but I didnt find anywhere I might buy one

Can you elaborate on what the sign is and what it needs as input . I am in Australia and would like to get one or something similar and give your project a go

A block diagram of your system would help . Obviously I have to drive the LED display with a RS323  12 volt driver from the timepiece and the arduino runs the program and feeds the LED's I suppose ?


What was the first link you followed? Every link in the article appears to work fine. The LED signs are typically a bit expensive, so your best bet is to find a used one. Maybe with a discount due to no remote control etc. Or roll your own using one of the Sure Electronics matrices.

The sign accepts serial commands to control the text displayed, formatting, color, scroll effect, etc. It's quite a complex protocol. There are some efforts out there to create Arduino libraries.

The block diagram is: RTC--Arduino--MAX232--Betabrite. The Arduino handles all the time calculations etc.
Unique RGB LED Modules and Arduino shields: http://www.macetech.com/store


So is this particular coding or library for control of the Betabrite display anywhere for download? I was having trouble searching for it. I was possibly interested in purchasing a RS232 shield to code my arduino to talk to my betabrite classic for a fun project or current project in need of a large eye catching display.


All the code to control the Betabrite sign is right in the code I posted here.
Unique RGB LED Modules and Arduino shields: http://www.macetech.com/store

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