This week I am going to show you how to hack a MAKE gift subscription card. Actually, it’s showing you how to interface a 7-segment display with an Arduino. I just happened to make it into a gift card subscription.

My idea was to give a MAKE subscription and an Arduino to a friend. What a great combination! As a final part of the gift, I am making a post about how to program the 7-segment display to help them get started.

It may be too late to order the 7-Segament display and Arduino for the Holidays, but it’s never too late to get a MAKE gift subscription or Maker SHED Gift Certificate.

What you need:


Here is a list of the components that you will need for this build.

  • Arduino – Available in the Maker Shed

  • A HC4LED Display – Available here
  • Gift Card – Download one from here
  • MAKE gift subscription – Available in the Maker SHED
  • 9V Battery Backpack – Available here
  • Double sided tape

Tools you need:

  • Soldering Iron

  • Wire cutters
  • Fume Extractor – Make you own

Step 1: Print the card


Print the MAKE Gift Subscription card. You can download one here. I modified mine a bit, but you don’t have to, just find a spot that it will fit on any of the cards. Next, Cut an opening 1 5/8″ x 5/8″ where you want the display.Step 2: Prepare the display


The display comes wired with connectors. Start by cutting off the wire connector that isn’t connected to the display.


Next, “tin” the wires so they are easier to insert into the Arduino header pins.


Now it’s time to remove the red bezel that is around the 7-segment displays. Carefully cut all the red plastic off. It may be easier to drill out the holes where the plastic attaches to the board.


Connect the data wire to pin 4 on the Arduino. Next, connect the clock wire to pin 5 on the Arduino. Then, connect the (+) wire to the +5 volt pin of the Arduino. Finally, add the (2) ground wires to the ground pins of the Arduino


It’s really easy, just 5 wires, and you are done.


Now you can attach the display to the Arduino with double-sided tape. You only need 2 small pieces on each side. Next, attach the card to the display with double-sided tape. You might need to add more to one side so the card is parallel to the board. Finally, add one more piece of double-sided tape to the battery backpack and attach it to the Arduino.

Step 3: Upload the code

// HCLED Code for How-to Tuesday
// Marc de Vinck 2008 CC Share alike

#include <HC4LED.h>

#define DISP_DATA_PIN 4 //cdefine data pin
#define DISP_CLOCK_PIN 5 //cdefine click pin
#define DISP_BLANK_PIN 7 //required by library, not hooked up on the display


void setup(){ // nothing to setup!

void loop() // do this over and over again
disp.scroll_text("happy holidays ", 100); //scroll text
disp.display_text("2008", 2500); //static text

The display has a library that is available here. This makes it really easy to work with. Download the folder and place it in the “hardware” library of the Arduino application.

Now you can upload this code to your Arduino. Simple! If you aren’t sure how to use an Arduino, check out this link.

Step 4: Enjoy


Now all you have to do is turn on the Arduino and you are ready to give your card away.

In the Maker Shed:
Arduino Family
Make: Arduino