Friday, January 2, 2015

Scrolling LED Licensing Sign

Part of the responsibilities taken on by my team at the U of A include maintaining the software licenses for dozens of different software pieces installed in the smart classrooms and instructional computing labs throughout campus. It's necessary for us to know when software is expiring so that we have to opportunity to update those licenses before too many students and professors start to complain. In discussion with my team lead, we identified that our current system alone (inputting license expiration dates into a Google spreadsheet) was not enough. I set up a script to email out to our team 10 days in advance when a specific license would expire, hoping that could help solve the issue, but with the many hundreds of emails the team receives each day from various reports and incident tickets and logs, the license emails easily became lost in the mix. We needed something more visual, something more "in your face", and then I stumbled upon a blog post by Pavel Shved.

Pavel's post details a project he took on to create a transit timetable sign for his home. The signs which in many big cities hang at bus stops, display information about the upcoming routes and the time until their next departure. This project itself it something I'd love to do, however, Edmonton Transit busses are not currently equipped with real-time GPS devices and/or the GPS data is not available publicly. Alas, Pavel's project was a great inspiration for mine, but instead of using a sign to display bus times, I'd use it to display software license expiration dates and I'd hang it in the office!

Pavel's project was written in Ruby; a language which I have limited experience working with. Thankfully though, Mike Metral seems to have also been inspired by Pavel's project and made a Homemade Sports Tracker by first porting Pavel's code to Python. Thanks Mike!

I had a spare Raspberry Pi device sitting in my desk and I now had Mike's code as a basis to work from, so all that was needed now was an LED sign. After proposing the project to my team lead and getting approval to go ahead, I ordered the same sign that Pavel and Mike both used and was ready to go.

After configuring the Pi and the LED Sign, I ran the test script which enabled me to hard code messages into the script and then display those message on the sign. Cool!
The next step was to write a script that would allow me to send multiple messages, and then scroll between them. In order to do this, I did eventually need to delve into the Perl portion of the script and play around with the MiniLED perl module. But, after some modifications to the existing scripts and learning a thing or two about perl, I managed it.
The last step was to pull the data from the Google spreadsheet we were using, and interpret it to display information to the sign. I wrote a script to pull all of the license info and then compare the expiration date for each software piece to the current date. If the software is due to expire within the next 30 days, it gets added to the list which will be displayed on the sign. After many hours of debugging and testing, I was finally finished.

The sign is hanging on the wall of the office now where everybody can see it. It updates every 10 minutes to pull the latest license information and now scrolls through any licenses that are set to expire soon so that we can go and update them in a timely manner and prevent any outages.


Overall I would say this was a great project for me to work on. I enjoy projects where I get to be innovative and "create" things. Though I did gain some valuable experience with perl from this project, I think the most value I got was from learning how to use python to interact with Google docs. We are Google-heavy at the U of A and I'm sure the knowledge I gained from this will come in handy again in the future.

26 comments:

  1. I also want to suggest one company which deals in LED Signs, to know about that click on highlighted text .

    ReplyDelete
  2. I used LED signs for the Albert smiths this is the best service provider for signs in australia.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I really like when building has LED signs like this. The scrolling information is useful and it's easy to read. Though sometimes I feel as though the text scrolls by a little too slowly. People who have these signs, please keep that in mind or people will stop reading.

    http://www.trim-line.ca/

    ReplyDelete
  4. I also suggest one company which deals in led signsLED Signs

    ReplyDelete
  5. very nice article it very much detailed and nice presented.

    led signs/led signs uk

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks for sharing your post and it was superb .I would like to hear more from you in future too.

    led video screen

    ReplyDelete
  7. There are certainly a lot of details like that to take into consideration.
    led video screen

    ReplyDelete
  8. I just came across to reading your blog it serve very useful information about the interiors thank u
    Digital signage

    ReplyDelete
  9. Post is very informative,It helped me with great information so I really believe you will do much better in the future.
    Swedx

    ReplyDelete
  10. I visited your blog for the first time and just been your fan. I Will be back often to check up on new stuff you post!
    video wall

    ReplyDelete
  11. Very Interesting and thanks for you sharing such a kind of information.

    LED Sign Boards Chennai

    ReplyDelete
  12. Wonderful blog and i really love it thank you for posting it.
    government news

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hello,
    Thanks for the post and keep sharing the blogs.We manufacture all our own sign products. In a Rush? We can Help you.We can produce your business sign in one or two days in some cases.
    channel letter sign Los Angeles

    ReplyDelete
  14. Super blog and very interesting information which I always wanted to search many article but you article is really fantastic.
    https://youtu.be/jgC5Ps9EBnQ

    ReplyDelete
  15. DEOL DISPLAY SYSTEMS is service manufacturer /producer of indoor and outside LED signs and shows. DEOL DISPLAY SYSTEMS offers industry driving LED display innovation and answers for change your space into an advanced world.

    High quality LED signs

    ReplyDelete
  16. I like your blog it's really cool and nice thank you for sharing this great information about the pr newswire Press Release nice work.
    pr newswire Press Release

    ReplyDelete
  17. Really a wonderful blog! I like it very much. Here I can find everything in details.
    Good work.


    LED Sign

    ReplyDelete
  18. DEOL DISPLAY SYSTEMS, manufactures of high quality LED signs for a wide range of industries. Deol Display Systems (DDS) specializes in custom LED signs based on customer specifications.

    high quality LED signs

    ReplyDelete
  19. You have some honest ideas about the circular light which you share here I really get many information and discovered most peoples will agree with your blog.



    circular light

    ReplyDelete
  20. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete

  21. Excellent information!Given deep knowledge about Digital Signage Services is really appreciable.Using PowerSignage to create digital menu boards, interactive kiosks, lobby and retail digital displays is one of the great thing.Over the years, digital menu boards have become extremely popular and are widely considered one of the best advertising platforms today, as they offer a number of benefits compared to static banners. Generally used by restaurants, particularly by quick service restaurants, a Digital Menu Boards
    is a dynamic display for menus, product pictures, and promotional items among many others. Moreover, these digital boards have completely replaced the old static printed or painted signboards used before.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I high appreciate this post. It’s hard to find the good from the bad sometimes, but I think you’ve nailed it! would you mind updating your blog with more information digital signage app

    ReplyDelete