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Thread: [WTB] **PAID JOB** Build a small 3-display countdown timer with separate controller

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    Default [WTB] **PAID JOB** Build a small 3-display countdown timer with separate controller

    Hi all,

    Long time reader, first time poster...

    I'm rather short on the time and also exact knowledge to put this together myself without first picking up a couple of books and googling for a few hours....so I'd rather outsource this to someone who would like to make some extra cash:

    I am currently looking to create a small device which is going to be embedded in some timber - on the surface of a table. This is being used as part of a multi-person game.

    I'm specifically looking to make THREE small LED/LCD displays that will effectively serve the purpose to SIMULTANEOUSLY display a TIME that COUNTS DOWN. All 3 are simultaneously controlled, reset, powered by a separately wired controller board. For those with the knowledge and skills, would understand most of these parts are easily picked up from a local Jaycar using an existing dev board (or even most parts from a DIY breadboard kit)...and perhaps just finding the right code and modifying it slightly to match my requirements for the main chip/s used in the project. So this is not overly difficult...

    The COUNTDOWN TIMERS and this project have minimum requirements:
    :
    1) All timers must have at least TWO digits on the display (counting down from :59s). No more than SIX digits if it must be larger
    2) Only numbers/digits are required for display, no images or text, so nothing complex!
    3) The actual display will be BLACK with the timer LED LIGHT either a BLUE or WHITE colour (only, nothing else). One or the other - All 3 the same.


    4) All clocks must, simultaneously, display the same countdown timer - that is, they start and expire at the same time
    5) There is NO audio or speaker required for the build
    6) That the clock can be reset and started from a separate position, ie: a different area of the table, so a SEPARATE wired controller board with tactile buttons required
    7) No buttons, or input or any kind is required where the TIMERS are displayed. For a visual reference only.
    8) At it's "most" complex, the time may be set in increments of 30secs. From controller location, the administrator needs to be able to POWER OFF these times, reset the timers and START the countdown.

    Finally, if a more complex OLED display is required, I am open to some suggestions or modifications

    I've considered buying kits on Amazon US and importing, but with shipping it will take too long..

    If anyone is interested in getting involved, please let me know. Only constructive replies please (or interested members on the job need reply). If I have done a poor job at explain the project or requirements, please ask questions and I'll reply as soon as I can.

    Cheers
    RWS13



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    id go for something like this on the arduino


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    M'kay....constructive observations time =)

    Fore-mostly, you mention that you're short of time with this project, and that implies you have a completion deadline in mind? Might be a good idea to expound upon that and spell out the time frame, so folks have an idea of how long they've got =)

    The next thing my brain-matter swings to, are the actual displays themselves - this'd be the biggest area variable. These displays will ideally be a particular size, type, and each have their own mounting constraints -- you will be looking at a particular ergonomic to suit your purpose, needing to hold considerations of how to mount the displays in a presentable way. As it's a game (unknown genre/type), I tend to think bigger displays rather than smaller ones -- in any event, IMHO you have to define the display hardware/type first ; only you can divine this answer <grin>...

    You could go 7segment displays, but in a world where you can by these as modules which makes for clean/easy fitment/mounting, everywhere you look designs entertain 4digits because everyone arduino wants to build a clock. There's more than several ways to drive 7seg displays.

    You might consider small 8x8 LED matrix modules (display area 30x30mm per digit)



    That's a left-over from a bunch I bought a while ago for another project (scrolling text sign)..the PCB carrier can be cut/separated into pairs, you achieve the black display look with oneway tinted film =) These modules are based on the max7219 IC

    OLED displays aren't any more complex really..as in you still end up addressing the displays over a serial bus, only the words are changed =)

    Master control is more or less a doddle, I'm likely thinking of a rotary encoder with push-switch to set timer value, with big red arcade style push button as launch control..hehe.

    In any event, if say one concluded to use an arduino nano to do this, the actual countdown timer code with set value and start/stop already exists, and who-so-ever would write the code for this here, really just needs to know what the display hardware target is, so they can choose the required hardware (controller chip) library to include into the code to display the timer output (concurrently) to 3 display endpoints. I've mucked about with arduinos, what you want to do here isn't hard at all at the software level... the crux is knowing what display hardware is used.

    I suggest looking at your project again, and deciding exactly what kind of display you'd -prefer- to use. As I say, this choice might not just be bounded by appearance/size, but other things like ease of mounting, availability, cost...blabla.

    Seeing as the code you need is already there in the wild as it were, you have to make an executive decision and put your foot down on what display type you're going to employ =)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Reschs View Post


    Yep, this looks very close to what I actually need, though I want a wired remote, nothing that can be changed or intercepted through IR from a different "central" position of the person who uses buttons to control the timer.

    Quote Originally Posted by fandtm666 View Post
    id go for something like this on the arduino
    Quote Originally Posted by fandtm666 View Post


    Yep that seems basic enough. Arduino would be the expected route I would suggest the person takes who is building this. The wires would be mounted underneath to try and keep the whole piece as slimline as possible with only the display (not a red light though) showing on the table surface. A guy at Jaycar showed me a dev board (not the same one, but similar) and also suggested to go from scratch with the arduino starter kit...but like i said, I don't have time or patience.

    Quote Originally Posted by wotnot View Post
    Fore-mostly, you mention that you're short of time with this project, and that implies you have a completion deadline in mind? Might be a good idea to expound upon that and spell out the time frame, so folks have an idea of how long they've got
    Ideally before Christmas. It's not a gift, but I'd like it done before the new year

    Quote Originally Posted by wotnot View Post
    The next thing my brain-matter swings to, are the actual displays themselves - this'd be the biggest area variable. These displays will ideally be a particular size, type, and each have their own mounting constraints -- you will be looking at a particular ergonomic to suit your purpose, needing to hold considerations of how to mount the displays in a presentable way. I tend to think bigger displays rather than smaller ones -- in any event, IMHO you have to define the display hardware/type first
    Too true - about mount constraints. I'm not a fan of the dot matrix LED, it makes for a much larger display than what is required. I can get away with a 2 digit display as explained in my brief...what's wrong with using a white or blue LED in a basic digital alarm clock face? Take a look at the bare board in this product...the digital clock timer here is perfectly sufficient?


    I should also mention I don't want the countdown timer to be too much of an "eye catching" distraction. it is literally there for 1 or more people sitting at this stage to monitor time left (as a guide). This is also why no buzzer or speaker is required. Also why i want to keep each display small.

    Quote Originally Posted by wotnot View Post
    OLED displays aren't any more complex really..as in you still end up addressing the displays over a serial bus, only the words are changed. Master control is more or less a doddle, I'm likely thinking of a rotary encoder with push-switch to set timer value, with big red arcade style push button as launch control.
    It's a bonus, really, if a logo can be displayed on the display (should we go down path of OLED with more pixels to play with) But goes above and beyond the scope of the project and arguably makes it more difficult. I'm fine for jsut numbers, at this stage. Scrolling text can be too distracting.Also, think of the separate controller board with buttons to be in a "central" position of the table that only one (admin) person can access. I'm not looking for arcade style gaming or retro buttons. A fairly minimalistic and standard board which gives me access to finer sized buttons will be sufficient. I will mount the board with perhaps a plastic printed face to help with mounting so its not just the buttons that stick out...

    Hope that helps and thanks for the reply!
    Last edited by rws13; 20-11-20 at 01:46 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rws13 View Post

    Too true - about mount constraints. I'm not a fan of the dot matrix LED, it makes for a much larger display than what is required. I can get away with a 2 digit display as explained in my brief...what's wrong with using a white or blue LED in a basic digital alarm clock face? Take a look at the bare board in this product...the digital clock timer here is perfectly sufficient?
    As in, use something like that as the 'master' controller, and mimic the time display on the 3 remote LED displays?...umm.. you could do that, but looking at that PCB you'd need do an 11wire tap and driver board for the 3 remote displays (the LED module is being switched directly by the controller chip), and another 10wires to each remote display module (just being a pair of off-the-shelf 7seg displays)

    Quote Originally Posted by rws13 View Post
    I should also mention I don't want the countdown timer to be too much of an "eye catching" distraction. it is literally there for 1 or more people sitting at this stage to monitor time left (as a guide). This is also why no buzzer or speaker is required. Also why i want to keep each display small.
    That's more a packaging issue, fit switches and knobs as required (or not) ...realistically, if minimalism gets a look in here, you'd conclude an arduino was overkill, and use an attiny85 instead (digistump =)


    Quote Originally Posted by rws13 View Post

    It's a bonus, really, if a logo can be displayed on the display (should we go down path of OLED with more pixels to play with) But goes above and beyond the scope of the project and arguably makes it more difficult. I'm fine for jsut numbers, at this stage. Scrolling text can be too distracting.Also, think of the separate controller board with buttons to be in a "central" position of the table that only one (admin) person can access. I'm not looking for arcade style gaming or retro buttons. A fairly minimalistic and standard board which gives me access to finer sized buttons will be sufficient. I will mount the board with perhaps a plastic printed face to help with mounting so its not just the buttons that stick out...

    Hope that helps and thanks for the reply!
    Kk, thanks for further defining your intent -- a rational, sane person right at the now, would probably surmise that anyone has really got the odds stacked against them, getting anything from O/S in a timely fashion anytime soon now ; this means you're more or less limited by local stock items...{sigh}...

    I have one logic flag asking - is the controller of the master box just using the (players) display to set the timer duration value, or do they have a display exclusively their own so players cannot see countdown duration until GO ?

    Answer to that question just defines number of displays.

    It is clear your preferred route is OLED displays -- the big answer is if it's on this list or uses the same controller/driver IC , you can use it -->

    Real time solution is goto ebay.au and search for 'arduino oled display' and filter with -in Australia- ...and choose your poison. I'd advise sticking with modules based on the SSD1306 chip, as there's an extensive driver library supporting it. Interconnect between individual displays and the master unit, is 4 wires (power,ground, 2 wires for I2C bus)...I'm not thinking of where power's coming from more than it's part of the base unit. This is about as simple as it gets.

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    Quote Originally Posted by wotnot View Post
    As in, use something like that as the 'master' controller, and mimic the time display on the 3 remote LED displays?...umm.. you could do that, but looking at that PCB you'd need do an 11wire tap and driver board for the 3 remote displays (the LED module is being switched directly by the controller chip), and another 10wires to each remote display module (just being a pair of off-the-shelf 7seg displays)
    ...
    I have one logic flag asking - is the controller of the master box just using the (players) display to set the timer duration value, or do they have a display exclusively their own so players cannot see countdown duration until GO ?
    The master (and only) controller does not need its own display, all 3 timers can be seen from central position and will be the "admins guide" to determining the countdown setting, be it 30s, 60s (etc). The amount of wires don't bother me, I'm not putting it together - Understand that as the more technical the conversation gets, the more that likely goes over my head, lol

    Quote Originally Posted by wotnot View Post
    That's more a packaging issue, fit switches and knobs as required (or not) ...realistically, if minimalism gets a look in here, you'd conclude an arduino was overkill, and use an attiny85 instead (digistump)
    It's a cost factor - and if keeping it too minimalistic is a far expensive option, then I'd have to consider other possibilities....biut wont know until dollar figures get thrown around. I just figured a pre made dev board made life much easier and the job less complex...where the work is really in modifying code for the chip to correctly communicate with the chosen display per my build requirements.

    Quote Originally Posted by wotnot View Post
    A rational, sane person right at the now, would probably surmise that anyone has really got the odds stacked against them, getting anything from O/S in a timely fashion anytime soon now ; this means you're more or less limited by local stock items...
    What can you NOT buy from within Australia that is required?!

    Quote Originally Posted by wotnot View Post
    It is clear your preferred route is OLED displays -- the big answer is if it's on this list or uses the same controller/driver IC , you can use it -->

    Real time solution is goto ebay.au and search for 'arduino oled display' and filter with -in Australia- ...and choose your poison. I'd advise sticking with modules based on the SSD1306 chip, as there's an extensive driver library supporting it. Interconnect between individual displays and the master unit, is 4 wires (power,ground, 2 wires for I2C bus)...I'm not thinking of where power's coming from more than it's part of the base unit. This is about as simple as it gets.
    So that linked list is insanely big to go through...and per my Amazon image above, thought that gave a pretty succinct description of the type of display clock/timer I need. I can go OLED if I need to...but feel it may be overkill. I'm looking for someone to be able to interpret my detailed descriptions and literally have the ability to round down the requirements (of displays) to probably 2-4 suggestions that I can then pick from. Power should be simple and I may just use a DC jack to USB and plug into a power brick used to power phones and tablets. Literally any of these will do, as long as text.digits is (EITHER) plain white, or plain blue, it will suffice:


    RWS13
    Last edited by rws13; 20-11-20 at 05:56 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rws13 View Post
    The master (and only) controller does not need its own display, all 3 timers can be seen from central position and will be the "admins guide" to determining the countdown setting, be it 30s, 60s (etc). The amount of wires don't bother me, I'm not putting it together - Understand that as the more technical the conversation gets, the more that likely goes over my head, lol

    It's a cost factor - and if keeping it too minimalistic is a far expensive option, then I'd have to consider other possibilities....biut wont know until dollar figures get thrown around. I just figured a pre made dev board made life much easier and the job less complex...where the work is really in modifying code for the chip to correctly communicate with the chosen display per my build requirements.

    What can you NOT buy from within Australia that is required?!
    To answer the question -- cheap 2/4digit 7segment LED displays on a carrier/module board incorporating the TM1637 controller chip ; my actual quip, however, relates to the fact you'll pay 200-400% more for AU stocked items, which you can buy from CN at closer to RRP... quick example -- module from CN - $2.60/piece ; same thing local AU stock - $7.90/piece. Do the math -- I won't support these local AU sellers at that markup margin ; you might <shrug>



    Quote Originally Posted by rws13 View Post
    So that linked list is insanely big to go through...and per my Amazon image above, thought that gave a pretty succinct description of the type of display clock/timer I need. I can go OLED if I need to...but feel it may be overkill. I'm looking for someone to be able to interpret my detailed descriptions and literally have the ability to round down the requirements (of displays) to probably 2-4 suggestions that I can then pick from. Power should be simple and I may just use a DC jack to USB and plug into a power brick used to power phones and tablets. Literally any of these will do, as long as text.digits is (EITHER) plain white, or plain blue, it will suffice:


    RWS13
    What I did there was show you what you have to choose from ; they all use the same controller chip and thus software wise it doesn't matter.

    However, these displays are available in different colours, a multitude of different sizes (lots), with varying mounting options ; I see you've made another post in this forum wrt getting a CAD model together for said table-top that's going to house all the displays & electronics, and already there the one respondent has pointed out the need to know what actual display is going to be used, because all these displays are different in the physical domain ; electrically they're identical.

    Even what you've posted here draws consternation regarding what you want to achieve -- at one point you say "It's a bonus, really, if a logo can be displayed on the display (should we go down path of OLED with more pixels to play with)", but here it goes baack to "I can go OLED if I need to...but feel it may be overkill." From an R&D perspective...doing it with 7seg LED displays is cost-equivalent to doing it with OLED displays, ergo one goes straight to OLED displays, as a logo...if required... can be easily added in software at a later time -- this is the 'preferred' route, because it avoids the necessary physical reworking of the display housing (removing 7seg displays and making the display aperture the correct size to match the OLED display active area). Even this much flags another question in the R&D -- if user may want to display a logo in the future, do they want full colour (RGB) or just the (cheaper) bi-colour display?

    I do realize there's that intangible barrier between what OLED modules look like on ebay, and what they look like in real life -- all you can do here is look at the module specifications, and hope the 'active area' dimensions are given ; if they're not, you're basically flying blind until you get an example of the module and measure the active area yourself ; once you know that, you know the exact aperture size you need for the display bezel/panel, in the unit housing (one can accommodate for this with thoughtful design of the enclosure). 'Reputable' OLED manufacturers list active area (ie; ) ; when you've got that you can cutout a rectangle of cardboard to help mockup/visualize what the final result will be like.

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