The Bethesda United Church of Christ needed a serious upgrade to their monument sign. They had previously been using a standard marquee sign that used slotted letters. Every time they wanted to change our their message, they had to slog out to the sign with their box of letters to make the changes — twice, because they had two panels on their sign. They came to us looking to just get a new marquee, but after some conversations they decided to make the leap and get two LED panels.

 Close-up of their previous sign

Close-up of their previous sign

 These must have been a pain to change

These must have been a pain to change

Since we had to work within the confines of their existing brick structure, we were limited in terms of the size of panels we could install. We went with two 46"x67"single-sided panels, each with a 48x72 pixel matrix capable of displaying 281 trillion colors. One of the panels would be the "control", and the other would be slaved to the first; this meant that the church could update the content on both displays by only making their changes once each time.

After swapping out the old panels for the new LED panels, we had to run a new electrical connection out to the sign (their previous hookup was only strong enough to power the two light bulbs that used to light up each sign panel, but it was not enough to power two LED sign panels). Once that was completed, we powered up the signs to test them out.

 
 

Success! Well, sort of. The "master" panel was showing the two default images just fine, but the "slave" panel showed nothing. We checked the main electrical connections, and everything was fine. We were stumped. It wasn't until we opened up the slave panel to examine the internal components that we discovered that a single power cable had become disconnected during shipping. We hooked it back up, powered the system up again and this time, everything worked.

Oh noes!

Greg to the rescue

Now it was time to hook up the RF transmitters, which enable wireless communication between the exterior sign and the computer inside the church, about 500 feet away. After making the hookups, running the cables, and testing the connections, we successfully communicated to the sign and made our first test images.

The church was pleased, their members and passers-by noticed the change immediately, and they are excited to start customizing their messaging for their various events, holidays, and announcements. LED FTW!

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