mobileled md-550 led board fun

13 09 2013

i recently acquired this device at our local goodwill outlet world for a whopping $3.45. the board itself is made up of bright green leds, and it’s connected to a keypad by a lengthy db-9 to 6-pin mini-din cable. the keypad has a 99-message memory, but only 60 of the slots can actually be used. the rest are filled with annoying messages that are extremely specific to vehicular usage. it is programmable via rs-232, though, provided that one can actually find something with a serial port. it also supports standalone data entry, but that is a much more tedious process. the programmer is a functional but somewhat poorly designed windows application, and it supports configuring every aspect of the board’s settings, including brightness and power on state. it doesn’t have any interest in running under wine (all characters are blank boxes, no serial port recognised), but it’s content with my windows xp virtual machine, which is perfectly sufficient for my needs, especially since i already had it around for cdma workshop and qpst. once i actually found a usb serial adapter (this one is actually a laptop dock of sorts, it has ieee1284, rs-232, ps/2, a 10/100 nic, and a 2-port usb hub all in the same case), the programmer recognised it without issue and i was able to start playing with it. as of yet all i’ve done is program in some fun messages, but i’d like to try and reverse-engineer whatever protocol it uses for programming and write a native linux implementation. i’ll update this post later with pictures and perhaps a pdf of the manual that came with it (i can’t find documentation anywhere online). for now, here’s a link to the programmer for anyone else who has one of these but doesn’t have the software.

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