When 18-year-old maker Immanuel McKenty salvaged a small LCD from an old printer, he recruited his code-savvy older brother, Adam, and they soon had the LCD displaying text from an Arduino. To avoid having to plug the Arduino into a computer whenever they wanted to change the display text, Immanuel salvaged a PS/2 port from an old computer motherboard, and using the PS/2 keyboard code library for Arduino, they could plug in a common PS/2 keyboard and type messages directly into the Arduino and out to the LCD. Now all they needed was a bigger display. They found inexpensive 8×32 display boards, cascaded three together, and wrote up the project for MAKE Volume 27.
The result is our PS/2/You system, which displays keyboard-typed messages in 2″-tall LED letters that can be read from quite a distance. You can store and switch between six different lines of text, and it automatically scrolls through lines that are too long for the display. Power comes from an AC adapter or six AA batteries for portable operation, and the whole thing is housed in a sturdy wooden frame.
Immanuel’s project appears on page 92 of Volume 27, and we’ve also shared the project in its entirety with you on our DIY wiki, Make: Projects. What’s more, the Maker Shed made gathering parts for the project a breeze by putting together the PS/2/You Parts Kit, which includes almost everything you need to build your own display, except for the enclosure, which Immanuel details in the build. This go-anywhere, instantly updatable glowing digital message board makes a great weekend project, and it’s so versatile the applications are endless.
From the Pages of MAKE
MAKE Volume 27, Robots!
The robots have returned! MAKE Volume 27 features a special package with robotics projects for every age and skill level. They play music; they outwit your pets; they learn from their mistakes! In addition, we’ll show you how to build a special aquarium to keep jellyfish, create pre-Edison incandescent lighting, spy via the internet, and make a go-anywhere digital message board! All this and much, much more, in MAKE Volume 27.