16 x 32 LED Matrix Panel - How do they work?

I found a blog post today that does a pretty good job of detailing the 16x32 LED matrix circuit components and how they work.  The PCB looks a little different than mine (components in different positions), but the circuit appears to be very similar. Here is the diagram they created highlighting each IC, click through for the full explanation and links to datasheets:

Hobby PCB - 16x32 RGB LED Matrix Technical Details

Moo MiniCards for Austin Mini Maker Faire

I wanted to have a little card with my blog/twitter info for sharing at Maker Faire, but I didn't want to go the full business card route.  I found Moo Minicards to be the perfect mix of small size and slick printing. Of course then I stressed over designing something worthy of the cool little cards.  They have a ton of professional artwork you can pick from, but I wanted to do something a little more custom and related to my projects.  Here is the result:

I was a little worried that it would be blurry after printing, but it came out great.   Not bad for $20!  Say Hello at Maker Faire and you can see for yourself!

Chronomix CC2000 Acquired

Austin is fortunate to have a lot of great vintage shops (here's a handy map).  I love these places as you never know what you might find inside - furniture, clothing, records, magazines, and other tchotchkes.  But it can be anything that catches a picker's eye. A few weeks back we stopped by the North Loop Spring Fling sidewalk sale (which had about double the normal volume of sellers and treasures).  While my wife was looking through the usual fare, I spied this propped up against the wall:

Chronomix CC2000

Chronomix CC2000 Details

It's a big 4-digit 7-segment display used to keep time at sporting events (track meets and the like).  In this case the segments aren't LEDs, they are fluorescent panels with actuators to rotate them into view with a solid clunk.  Yes, it works.  Yes, I bought it immediately.  Here's a video of the precision clunking action:


Before I can control the clunking (like this pinball score reel project), I needed to learn as much as I could about those two connectors on the right side.  Unplugging the control module didn't affect the counting, so the timekeeping intelligence is inside.  Before I started taking it apart, I googled around for anyone else using this in a project (or taking it apart).  Unfortunately, the iFixit guys haven't gotten their hands on one of these yet.

The Chronomix website wasn't much help either - apparently they were purchased awhile back, and no longer sell or support these older units.  However, their FAQ did mention that former employees started a company to repair old units.  So I emailed and asked for a manual, why not?

A week later, I had an original yellowed paper copy of the manual in the mail from Expert Timing Systems in Grants Pass, OR.  The best part - the 3-pin connector is an RS-232 port (1200 baud!!) meant to allow external control.  This drawing from the manual covers it nicely.  Now to make a little cable adapter and I'll be up and clunking in no time!

Chronomix CC2000 RS232