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Old Oct 02, 2014, 02:05 PM
Mickey from Orlando. Really.
Joined Nov 2004
3,733 Posts
Build Log
Contest Information Display System AKA Mickeys Big Timer

I was inspired by Adrian's big timer and I happened upon these display panels:
https://www.sparkfun.com/products/12584

I thought I'd see if it could turn into a big timer. Kinda of a vague idea really.
Once I got the basic driver working I realized that I could do text as well as numbers, so this has kinda evolved into a contest display system.
The vague notion is that the tones, countdown and timer would all be sync'd together. The sign would show what round/heat and the time until the window starts, window time and landing window time.
During the prep time the round/heat and the pilots flying that round would scroll by, thus avoiding the often heard "What round is it? Am I flying this round?" questions heard at contests. I often miss the audio announcement of round/heat and my name, so I figured if it continued to scroll by, a quick glance would tell you and also how much time before the window.

The big letters are 7" high.

Here's a sample (not real contest data, just fake data to show the displays):
MOV 0468 (0 min 29 sec)


Who knows when I'll get done, but my goal is to have something with the bugs worked out by the December contest.
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Last edited by mnowell129; Feb 22, 2015 at 08:31 PM. Reason: typos
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Old Oct 02, 2014, 02:16 PM
Location: Zurich/Sweden
funkz's Avatar
United States, NC, Cornelius
Joined Jul 2012
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So you are using arduino code to run this? If so, what kind of Arduino is required to drive the pixels independently?

Great project

Tx!
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Old Oct 02, 2014, 02:17 PM
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United States, MD, Baltimore
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Two panels? 80$ plus a stand of some kind. I'm in. Work with Oleg to use a timing file exported from f3k score. Syncing is the tricky part. Some guys have used Bluetooth others serial cables.
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Old Oct 02, 2014, 02:33 PM
Mickey from Orlando. Really.
Joined Nov 2004
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Quote:
Originally Posted by austinhlg View Post
Two panels? 80$ plus a stand of some kind. I'm in. Work with Oleg to use a timing file exported from f3k score. Syncing is the tricky part. Some guys have used Bluetooth others serial cables.
@austin
Actually 3 panels, but the cost is not that huge in the grand scheme.
The plan is to not have to sync anything. The controller board has an MP3/WAV decoder on it and a microSD card. All the audio files, pilot names, etc will be on the controller board and do all the timing in real time. So the tones and the display will be exactly sync'd to the millisecond.
The PC would just send a blob of text data that says, "start round 8C with this list of pilots, with this window format (10, 7, ..etc), and play this announcement file.
Once you had all the files on the SD card there shouldn't be much maintenance except for adding new pilot names as mp3's. The PC would do little more than start the round, the display would do everything else, including drive the speakers.

@funkz
Not arduino, 168 MHz STM32F407. Currently its a STM32F4 Discovery board, but the production unit will be a Mikroelectronica MikroMedia STM32F4 board.
The arduino is not fast enough. This display can only drive two horizontal rows at one time, so the software is outputting 192 pixels at a time at a 60 Hertz refresh rate. Lots of cycles to keep the display lit.
FYI -- I am using IAR EmbeddedWorkbench for ARM, freeRTOS operating system, and the Chan FAT FileSystem. There is a chance that I will open source the code, but most people don't have the tools that I use for my day job, so maintenance on these might be just loading a new binary that I release occasionally.
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Old Oct 02, 2014, 02:47 PM
Team Horizon pilot
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Louisville, KY
Joined Jun 2005
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I like anything with my name on top:-)

Bruce
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Old Oct 02, 2014, 02:51 PM
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Joined Feb 2007
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At that point. Why have the computer involved at all? Less connections to troubleshoot on the field the better. One export to an sd card per contest much like oleg's .m3u file, press play and let her go.
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Old Oct 02, 2014, 02:57 PM
Mickey from Orlando. Really.
Joined Nov 2004
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Quote:
Originally Posted by austinhlg View Post
At that point. Why have the computer involved at all? Less connections to troubleshoot on the field the better. One export to an sd card per contest much like oleg's .m3u file, press play and let her go.
That is one of the possibilities. I might still have a console connection to it to be able to pause, re-rerun a round, and resume. The little controller board would be unwieldy for this.
The general idea is that this is something you open up, plug in and press play. The only other connection would be the serial connection for the console.
The console could eventually be over some kind of wireless.
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Old Oct 02, 2014, 04:38 PM
Rick Rogahn
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Seattle, WA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by austinhlg View Post
At that point. Why have the computer involved at all? Less connections to troubleshoot on the field the better. One export to an sd card per contest much like oleg's .m3u file, press play and let her go.
I have noticed however at our contests that there is some management / interface needed. Sometimes rounds need to be paused, restarted etc...as pointed out above. Plus, would still need software to record the scores, do the sorting, adding / removing pilots if needed.
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Old Oct 02, 2014, 04:58 PM
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United States, MD, Baltimore
Joined Feb 2007
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Yes but no connection to the computer for the timer is great. Timer location can not always be right next to the computer. Serial cables are not that long by design and wireless is finicky. I run separate programs as is for scoring and timing file.
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Old Oct 02, 2014, 05:13 PM
Location: Zurich/Sweden
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United States, NC, Cornelius
Joined Jul 2012
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Is F3K master and its Bluetooth capabilities an option?
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Old Oct 02, 2014, 08:57 PM
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Reno Nevada
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Quote:
Originally Posted by got2soar View Post
I like anything with my name on top:-)

Bruce
Except the FBIs most wanted list!��
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Old Feb 08, 2015, 09:42 PM
Mickey from Orlando. Really.
Joined Nov 2004
3,733 Posts
Update
I'm making progress, with maybe a demo at San Felasco (if the stars align).
I've got the audio working playing mp3's integrated with the actual timer.
Still fake data on the display, but it's just being exercised to check for interactions with the audio.
Per austin's suggestion it's going to be self contained.
There will be a touch panel LCD on the back, micro sd card for the audio and contest files. No computer needed.
Audio will be synchronized with the display precisely. Timing will be accurate to ~20 parts per million.
The plan is to display the countdown clock up to the round and continuously loop the names (if available) and scroll the names on the display. I have the option to play some kind of music or sound just before the window starts as well. I was thinking of the guy at the boxing matches saying "let's get ready to ruuummmble"....

...
Big timer (0 min 11 sec)
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Old Feb 08, 2015, 09:47 PM
A different attitude to RC
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Draper, Utah
Joined Sep 2008
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Have you tried it in direct sunlight yet?

If you want any info on how to use F3K Master to drive it (the protocol for instance), let me know.
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Old Feb 08, 2015, 09:50 PM
Mickey from Orlando. Really.
Joined Nov 2004
3,733 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by extremewing View Post
Have you tried it in direct sunlight yet?

If you want any info on how to use F3K Master to drive it (the protocol for instance), let me know.
Direct sunlight test is coming soon. I predict it will have to be in some kind of shroud.
It's still a science project right now.
Will get back to you on f3k master. Right now the plan is totally self contained.
A bluetooth module would be an easy add.
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Old Feb 08, 2015, 10:00 PM
A different attitude to RC
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Draper, Utah
Joined Sep 2008
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I hope you are not too disappointed when you do the sunlight test. It is brutal. The first time I took my sign into sun it was not visible at all. The smoked plastic in the front of mine makes a big difference but the LED's still need to be really bright.
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