New Project: Interfacing to and/or Driving a FlipDot Display

For my next trick, I’ll be learning the intricacies of running a FlipDot (aka flip-disc) display made by ANNAX:

The image above is from the FlipDotBlog site that the ebay seller maintains… some of the panels have full electronics, and some are just the board and the dots.

I’ve always been fascinated by FlipDots and the sounds they (and related technologies) make (the *clack-clack-clack!* of train signs for example). En masse, FlipDots are sublime – and a bit loud:

I’m hoping I can make it all work using the standard RS-485 comms the board with full electronics provides, but we shall see. Interestingly, it seems to have LEDs in addition to the dots, and apparently they are controlled independently. Bonus!

First, though, it all has to arrive safely from halfway around the world. More updates when I’ve had some time to play around with it!

PS: After I drafted this post I looked closely at an SF Muni bus on the way to work – lo and behold it appears to use the exact same dots (should’ve snapped a photo.)

Update: I finally got a close-up of said Muni signage – while it’s similar, it’s not the same:

The ones I’m getting look more like this (but still not exactly because mine will have the auxiliary LEDs as well):

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