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New LED Prize Numbers Display to Debut at Hamvention® 2016

05/17/2016

The Sunday afternoon Grand Prize Drawing at Hamvention® 2016 will feature a bright new LED display that will present winning ticket numbers as they are drawn. It will be visible throughout Hara Arena’s main arena, where the prize drawings will take place. Hamvention 2016 Assistant Prize Chair Bill Serra, N8NRT, said a lot of work went into crafting the innovative device, which was the brainchild of the sponsoring Dayton Amateur Radio Association (DARA) “Thursday Night Group.” Serra said the display project involved more than a dozen DARA members and took 8 months from concept development to final assembly and delivery — just in time for this week’s show.

The project “followed hard on the heels of complaints from our Sunday afternoon Hamvention audience,” Serra wrote in the May 2016 edition of DARA’s RF Carrier newsletter. “Many had difficulty hearing ticket numbers as they were called over the facility sound system.”

The Thursday Night Group hit on the idea of a dazzling, seven-segment, Arduino-driven LED display. The system includes ticket barcode-scanning capability to automate the process of delivering accurate information to an expectant audience. From that point, planning progressed to figuring out how to get numbers from the scanner in the Prize Booth to the display, which involves more than might meet the eye.

“Everything from power requirements to the number of wires needed, not to mention consideration for assembling the system easily and storing it from one year to the next,” Serra explained. “The folks at Hara Arena were especially cooperative, especially Rue Wampler, who helped us with several ideas and tests that proved critical to the success of the project.”

Project lead Tom Holmes, N8ZM, noted that some members even took on “homework,” including Programmer Keith Yarger, KD8UYT, who accomplished some of his coding chores on the road during business trips to help speed the project to completion.

“This was truly a collaborative effort and would have been difficult to achieve without the entire group’s mental and physical efforts,” Serra said in his article. Some research on the Internet determined that a comparable system could have cost as much as $10,000, but the DARA team did it for about 10 percent of that amount. Hamvention General Chairman, Jim Tiderman, N8IDS, expressed his appreciation for the group effort and said that having the LED display to announce ticket numbers during Hamvention’s Sunday drawing would ease his mind as well as those of the Prize Committee chair and assistants. — Thanks to Bill Serra, N8NRT



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