Moving Messages & The Grinch ? ? ?

What's that all about?  Well it all started when I wanted to use a smaller more reliable controller than the Hill320 (picture right).  So I started looking at the other controllers used on the do it yourself Christmas forums and found the Grinch, so named because that was a popular film out at the time the controller was designed.  The controller's design is very simple in that the software, vixen, loads the data serially and then enables the outputs.

Hang on a moment, that's what a simple moving message display would do, it would load the data serially and display the result, an idea was born!  I researched the MBI5027 IC used in the Grinch and found the only place I could get it was from King Electronics in America.

Each MBI5027 has 16 outputs, so as I wanted a display a little over a meter long (about 4 foot) and was going to use 10mm LED's this worked out at 5 MBI5027's per row of LED's.  With 7 rows of LED's for a standard matrix character display meant 35 IC's.


I made up the front board to mount the LED's on using matrix board, then for each IC I made up a separate board.

These are then attached to the back of the LED panel.





I made five panels and mounted them inside a wooden box
along with a PC power supply to power all 560 LED's.



The Moving message display is driven directly from Vixen.  Each of the characters are defined in the grid, channels 1 - 7 and on channel 8 a clock pulse is programmed to move the message along.

In theory, any characters or shape can be produced as long as it fits in a seven line matrix of dots, I'm currently using it to display the radio frequency to tune to so as to listen to the music that the lights are animated to, the title of the music being played and this website's address.

The end product.

The Grinch Controller

The Grinch controller is a simple controller based around the MBI5027 shift register.  Each IC directly driving the opto-isolators where as the hill320 controller (picture at top of page) had to have driver IC's.  So for the same number of outputs the IC count has gone from 48 to 12 and a lot smaller.  It also means that there are far less cables as the controllers are located close to the display, the data connection being done using screened cable and a parallel port buffer to improve the signal.

Having built the new controller that also meant completely re-programming all the sequences, one heck of a lot of copy and pasting!


History Index

Messages from
     The Grinch (2011)
No Change
     (Dec. 2010)
Trees Grow !
     (Dec. 2009)
2008 Display
     (Dec. 2008)
Planning for 2008 !
     (Early 2008)
Here we go !
     (Nov. 2007)
The Big Change !!!
The Night Before
     Light-up (Dec. 2006)
The Tungsten Tree
     (Feb - Nov. 2006)
The Second move
     (Dec. 2005)
Who put that there ?
     (Aug. 2005)
Back in business
     (Dec. 2004)
Click Click Click
     (Dec. 2003)
Rope Lights
     (Dec. 2002)
The Move
     (Dec. 2001)
More Silicon Chips
     (Dec. 2000)
The Next Few Years
     & Chips
The Bug was biting
     (1993 on)
Early Married Life
     (1981 on)
A logical development
     (Dec. 1973 ish)
In the Beginning
     (Dec. 1962)