Electronic Scoreboard Page 3

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Well, it may not be working how I want it to yet, but when it does, it’ll look bloody marvellous, even if I do say so myself, and I do, to anyone who’ll listen, and even to some that don’t. 🙂

I’ve just got to remember to keep cutting the wires separating the individual modules at the right ends, 2 spares down, 13 to go…

Ok, so today has been a ‘good day’, firstly, I applied all the vinyl decals to the fully painted scoreboard fascia, and they’re even straight!  More crucially, Ian Nice, whose website I’ve been following to do this project, made a trip over this evening to help diagnose the issue I was having with the LEDs not displaying correctly, and after plugging the Arduino cables into the correct sockets, finding out I’ve probably got a dodgy 12V to 5V step-down converter and an unknown wiring issue on one of my circuits (obviously the one I was using to test with), we got output from both the little 0-9 counter and the scoreboard webpage, so I can now progress testing each of my circuits in turn, knowing everything powering it is working as it should be, before fitting them to the LED module panels; thank you Ian, I owe you a pint or 12.

I’d give you a picture of the scoreboard with the decals on, but I don’t want to spoil the final product now it’s getting closer to completion, so it’s probably going to be just boring text from here on in, sorry.

It’s been a bit of a roller-coaster this week, a couple of circuits weren’t working, so I had to order a couple of more bits to make them anew, the terminal blocks I ordered to attach the various wiring to arrived, and I managed to get all the 15 digits working in their blocks of 3, 2 and 1, but as I was attaching the green acrylic sheets to the front of the boards, the last one I had to attach, when I pulled the protective film off, had a 3 inch crack in it!

Cracked acrylic makes Stuart cry.
Cracked acrylic makes Stuart cry.

To say I was gutted is an understatement, I’m still waiting on a reply from the supplier as to how I’m proceeding with that one (*edit* he very kindly replaced it without charge), but I carried on, and started the final assembly of the other five modules onto to the actual scoreboard frame, when I slipped, knocking the whole thing over, which messed up one of the vinyl letters on the front, I’ve repaired the W of Wkts as best I can, but if a bit of Tippex can’t fix it completely, I’m going to have to order another block of letters, so whilst I’m proud of how it’s currently looking, it’s been a bit frustrating, but the end is in sight, once the final module is in place, it’s a simple process of wiring the modules together to receive the data, I’ve then just got to figure out how I’m going to mount the Raspberry Pi, Arduino and Access Point board I built first, how to secure the make-shift power supply I’m using, as the one I bought wasn’t up to the job, and finally how I’m actually going to get power to the lot once I screw the back plate on, but that’s going to be next week’s task, which hopefully will see some progress from my metal fabrication friend with a trolley for it, I originally thought it would take me six weeks to complete, but if I can get it finished by next weekend, it’ll be closer to two months from when I started, and I’m probably over budget, though not by a large amount, once I’m finished I’ll have to go back and tot everything up, oh, and another bloody annoying thing, I’ve been trimming the cables as I go along connecting them to the terminal blocks to keep it neat, which meant I was cutting off all the damned labels that had been the bane of this project! Arghhhh!

Well, I’ve touched up the W of Wkts with some white acrylic paint, and I’ve gotten the last piece of acrylic replaced, but even with a new LED power supply and 5V step-down converter it produces a gibberish display, if I wire it up to an spare ATX computer power supply’s 12V and 5V rails, it works perfectly, but use one designed for the job, \/ donkey’s ears! So it looks like for this one piece, I’m going with the tried and tested “Heath Robinson” solution; on the upside, if the power supply fails, for whatever reason, replacing it will be a doddle, as I’ve just connected it to an jerry-rigged extension connector, but it does mean, that once I’ve put that in to the box, it’s effectively complete, and I can finally test all the digits at once.

It’s almost ready for unveiling; exciting times.

Well, I’m done, I don’t mean it’s finished, I mean I’m done, I put all the modules into the frame, wired them all together, connected up the control board, and it effectively told me to f**k off, giving me the same issues I had with the LED driver power supplies, ok, I think it’s a wiring issue between all the boards, so disconnect the first block of three from the next in the chain, and try those, still bad, try the next block, same, try a SINGLE fecking digit, and still bugger all, I’ve tried separate a different ATX power supply, still garbage, at one point I thought it may have been the 4-way power socket, but no, changed that too, swapped back to the previous power supply, and while doing so, shorted it out, so that’s dead too now, I have just gotten as far as I can on it for this week, I am really despondent with it at the moment, if I hadn’t sunk so much money into it, I’d be tempted to write it off as a bad job, but I have, so I can’t.

Another roller-coaster of a week so far, currently on a high note, after the majority of last week I wanted to just bin it all, I made a breakthrough on Tuesday and now have all the digits working as they should, now I’ve replaced a module, that for intents and purposes looked like it was working, but in essence was screwing it up for the rest of it, causing the remaining digits in the chain to either go full on 888 or corrupt the numbers intermittently, it was at a guess a grounding issue somewhere, but I couldn’t find it, so I just disconnected the module, and built a new one and connected that.

All well and good, happy days, goes home a happy bunny, comes in this morning, switches it on, and it’s not responding to the webpage, no amount of refreshing would fix it, !#%$, re-uploads the program to the Arduino device, and it starts working again, power it off and on, and bam, stops working; argh!!!!! So, I’m now tracking down why the system is changing the default baud rate (speed of data transfer) from what it should be, at 115,200 down to a measly 9,600 baud, I’m guessing it has something to do with this Raspberry Pi having built in Bluetooth, but I’m not there yet.

Still no sign on the base/trolley for it yet, but other than that, we’re golden, almost ready for an unveiling.

Ok, I fixed the problem with the comms being messed up at start-up, for anyone who finds they’ve got the same problem reading this in years to come, have Serial.begin(115200); in your sketch, and add:
stty -F /dev/ttyACM0 10:0:18b2:0:3:1c:7f:15:4:0:0:0:11:13:1a:0:12:f:17:16:0:0:0:0:0:0:0:0:0:0:0:0:0:0:0:0 to /etc/rc.local on the Raspberry Pi.

The upshot of it is, I now have a fully working scoreboard. Woohoo! Now just to nail it all together, and we’ll be good to go (presuming the base ever gets finished).

Very frustrating week, scoreboard all ready, but the guy doing the metalwork for the trolley bit, has been dragging his heels (*edit* sorry Steve and Neil, I know this bit upset you, it wasn’t intentional, just indicative of the frustration I was going through at the time), so it’s just been sat in my office, getting switched on and tested any time some poor schmuck wandered in, was really hoping I could have had it in place before tomorrow, ah well, there’s still one home game for the 2nds after this one, it WILL get a game before this bloody season ends, cue rain for last home game…

After three months of literally blood, sweat and frustration, I was able to deliver to the club the scoreboard, and today’s game against Mottram was able to test it in earnest for the first time, and I have to say, despite my worrying, it worked a treat, and was well received by everyone at the club, and appreciated by umpire and opponents too, so despite getting royally tonked by Mottram’s opening batters, I left the ground this evening happy.  So finally, here it is in all its glory.

SSPCC Electronic Scoreboard

And no, I don’t do commissions, once is PLENTY enough. :).

For anyone who is looking to make one themselves, the templates I created for the digits and board can be found here.

Finally, something I should have done at the time, a list of thanks for the help I received along the process:

Dewi Jones and Darren Whipp for the timber work, Steve Wyatt and Neil Lewis for the metal work, Dave Smith at AEM Plastics for the acrylic cutting, Jim and Ben Towell in my office for putting up with my whining and gnashing of teeth while building, and finally Ian Nice for creating the initial project website, and all the help he’s given me, and others taking the job on for themselves.