Two steps forward, one step back...

A project log for Flip-Dot Display & DIY Controller

Messing around with Annax Flip-Dot displays.

Frederic LFrederic L 05/01/2021 at 16:081 Comment

I have been working on this project again with hopes to finish it soon enough so that I can proudly display it at home in some kind of enclosure.

The problem is that I always get new ideas for functionalities that require re-writing some code, adding new feature, or starting over again in a different programming language.

What started initially like a good way to display only the date and time, for which an Arduino is perfectly good enough became much more complex :

I later thought it would fun to have games on it playable through a web browser, so I went on and redid everything for an ESP32 running a local webserver and displaying the weather, date, time, pixel drawing game and such. Worked perfectly fine but....

Finally I thought the best would be to have old games (pong, bricks, snake, flappy-bird like games...) playable on the display with a remote console gamepad... This added a whole new level of complexity having to pair bluetooth devices with the ESP32 (failed to do it), and ultimately switching to a Raspberry Pi, dropping the Arduino Framework for Pyhton and C code.

I now have the following result :

Getting closer to a final product, but Raspberry Pis are much worse than Arduino and ESP32 at dealing with fast GPIO switching and I lost quite a bit of frame rate in the process. In the video, with only one pixel updating it's perfect, but with more dots to flip I get 1 to 2 fps, much too low for enjoying some games.

I should next try to combine the best of both worlds, The Raspberry Pi running the games and web stuff, and an Arduino or other uController dedicated to refreshing the display...

Stay tuned.


Charlie wrote 05/02/2021 at 22:17 point

Just stumbled across this project - neat!  
I agree with your thoughts on moving forward, let the ESP32 handle the frame buffer and updates, then just send that info over the network from whatever platform is convenient.
I did something similar with an ESP32 with an onboard TFT display so that I could send it arbitrary images via UDP.
With a 1-bit display, that's only 120 bytes for the entire display which can easily fit in a single packet

  Are you sure? yes | no