Introduction: Remote Controlled Arduino Scoreboard Using LED Strips

Picture of Remote Controlled Arduino Scoreboard Using LED Strips

SCOREBOARDS ARE EXPENSIVE!  Not only that, very large 7-segment LEDs are expensive, too!  Scoreboards can give your team a sense of legitimacy.   After looking at scoreboards all over the internet, I thought to myself, hey, I don't need to buy a scoreboard, I Could Make That!
My idea was to make a scoreboard for our softball team utilizing an Arduino, an IR remote control and LED strips.  I decided to use LED strips to make large 7-segment LEDs because it would cost less than buying large ones.  My idea is to make the scoreboard for less than $100.00.

The scoreboard displays the visitor and home team scores to 2 digits, the inning to 9 and the outs to 3.  Since our league doesn't count balls and strikes, I ommitted them but they can be added in a similar fashion to how the outs were done.

The segments are controlled with an Arduino Mega thru 74HC595 shift registers and TIP-120 NPN transistors with 220 Ohm resistors. The scoreboard circuit was created using copper tape that was adhered to an IKEA table top.  The scoreboard is powered from any car 'cigarette' lighter, a 12V battery or a Booster Battery Jumper module.  It can also be powered using a 9V-12V wall wart.     

Watch the Video.

Step 1: Parts & Tools Needed

Parts List:
5 - 74HC595 Shift Registers
38 - TIP-120 NPN Transistors with the TO-220 Package
38 - 220 Ohm Resistors
5 Meters of Red LED Strip (300 LEDs) 
Arduino Mega
Ikea Table Top
Roll of 5mm X 50' Copper Tape (Sparkfun)
Remote Control (buy one or repurpose an old one)
IR Receiver (VISHAY - TSOP34838)
Black Electrician's Tape
Vinyl Letters - 2" High
12V battery or other power source

Soldering Iron

Step 2: A Quick Set-up of the Circuit

Picture of A Quick Set-up of the Circuit

Cut the LED strips into 6-LED long segments.  Tape the segments temporarily to the tabletop.  

Test the 7-segment by setting up the circuit on a breadboard and running a quick, simple code.  Use the remote to change the numbers 0-9.

Step 3: Layout

Picture of Layout

Layout where the 7-segments, the circuit and lettering will go onto the table top.  See layout drawing for details.

Remove the backing from the LED strips and use the burnisher to adhere them to the tabletop.

Step 4:

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Solder together all the +12V tabs on the LED strips using a small amount of wire or copper tape.  Be careful of how long you apply heat as the strip could melt if you apply heat too long.

Layout where the TIP-120 transistors will go.  Start with the Visitor Tens’ digit.

Cut the copper tape to a manageable length and carefully cut it into two equal halves.

Remove the backing from the tape and adhere it to the tabletop and burnish it.

Step 5:

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Use as long piece of copper tape to create the ground.  Use black electrician’s tape to cover any parts of the circuit that cross.

Once you have one digit completed, solder all the tape where there’s a seam.

Solder in the TIP-120s and then the resistors.

Use a Multi-meter to test each part of the circuit for continuity.

Step 6:

Once complete, you can do a quick test of the one digit in a similar fashion to the test done in Step 2.

Continue laying out the circuit for the next digits and test them for continuity and functionality along the way.

Step 7:

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The shift registers should be then positioned and then circuited.  Since the shift register 16-pin sockets are soldered directly to the board, the copper tape has to be thinner.  Carefully cut the tape into thirds and apply to the surface.

Once complete, prime the tape with solder.  Take the legs of the 16-pin socket and splay them flat.  Place the socket on the solder and heat with the soldering iron until it liquefies and sets into the solder.  Upon completion, check to make sure there’s continuity and there is not crossing of the circuit.

Step 8:

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I was originally going to use a Pro Mini Arduino for the scoreboard, but found out that I did not have enough pins for that.  The Pro Mini was to be connected to the circuit by header pins that were soldered to the tabletop.  As shown, the Arduino Mega was attached to the tabletop with Velcro instead and some wire connectors were made from header pins and prototype wires.

Step 9:

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The outs were made with 4 – 3 LED-long strips arranged in a square.  The +12V leads were connected in series.  Lay out the circuit and solder.

Step 10: IR Receiver

Picture of IR Receiver

Place the IR receiver in a convenient place on the tabletop.  You could also place another one on the back connected to the same circuit.

The IR remote I used was one up-cycled from an old Sirius Satellite radio.  This website has a tutorial about IR remotes.  
To get the hexadecimal code that the IR transmitter sends, you can run an Arduino code that will tell you the hex when you press the buttons of your remote.  You can change the code for the scoreboard with these new hexadecimals to respond to your remote.  Some remotes will not work, so if it doesn't, try another until you find one that produces a hex.  

Step 11:

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Once complete, test the circuit utilizing the full code.

Step 12:

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Place the letters for visitors, home, inning and outs.  These are the defaults.

Additionally, you could make wooden on metal plates with your team name.  Place some strong magnets on the board and cover up the defaults with your team plate.  You could also use temporary paper ones that could be made and printed for whomever you are playing that week.

Step 13:

I put a pair of hooks on the back so that the board could be hung on a fence.  I also added legs to the back so that the scoreboard could be used in a freestanding mode if a fence cannot be used.

Step 14:

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The scoreboard was hooked up to a power station with the 12V wired to the “cigarette” lighter socket and the Arduino Mega hooked up thru a USB port.


boscopsoultrane (author)2016-07-07

That looks realy great! I am glad that you were able to make it from my instructable, and take it to another level as well. Great job!

Wolf_66 (author)boscopsoultrane2016-07-13

Hi, as the final result:

florinc (author)Wolf_662017-04-03

Nice! Check out my hockey scoreboard (prototype):

RaoofN (author)Wolf_662016-08-24

Do u have the video of making it

Wolf_66 (author)RaoofN2016-09-21

Hi mate, sorry but unfortunaltey not as it took me about 30 hours building it.

WolfgangT2 (author)RaoofN2016-09-21

Hi RaoofN, sorry but no. It took me about 30 hours to build it.

boscopsoultrane (author)Wolf_662016-07-13

Fantastic job! I am glad to have inspired such a great looking scoreboard.

Kenny9823 (author)2017-01-29

Hey quick question I have about the arduino code. How can I modify the code so it displays time instead off INN ? I can modify the circuits LED so it has enough space to display time but I have no knowledge off coding. Can someone help me.

Tragic_Prince (author)2016-12-16

This looks amazing!! Weldone!
One thing though... i tried to test the led strip without the shift register according to your test code without success. Can you help me? This is an RGB LED strip but i see that you use only the +12v and the -(ground). How exactly do you connect them? I suspect you connect all the +12V together but what about the -(ground)?
Any help would be appriciated!

Wolf_66 made it! (author)2016-07-06 the Fritzing layout of the PCB

Wolf_66 made it! (author)2016-07-06

Hi boscopsoultrane,

Sorry for the kinda long post .. but your project inspired have fun reading:

As the president of an amateur baseball club in Austria i was looking for an affordable scoreboard since many years. Buying one here in Europe costs you a fortune (more than 5000 $). By having some technical and eletronic background i found your post last year in November and i was stunned. I had no idea about Arduino, programming, but i liked the challenge. I took your idea and pushed it further. So here is the result:

Baseball Scoreboard (86 inches x 47 inches) using LED strips. Controlled with Arduino Mega and driven by a windows application (self developed with Visual Studio 2015).

It is almost finished.. only the front plate is not done yet.. will post it as soon its done.

The LEDS are 24 V and i used common cathode. For the PCB i used Fritzing and had them made the PCB for me (hope nobody is mad on me now ;-) )

So many thanks boscopsoultrane .. for your outstanding ideas...

PS: If anybody wants to know more details... post it... PM me... what you like


JMorton3 (author)2014-08-05

Following the pin-out you used for the digits, I saw that you basically kept everything together in threes - except for the Visitor 10's. Any particular reason why you split that one up, or could they be reassigned to keep the wiring together as the other 4 digits?

jasit (author)JMorton32014-11-07

I would love to see your printed circuit board layout, I am in the process of building a football scoreboard and was just about to start that.

JMorton3 (author)jasit2014-11-07

This is how the boards turned out.

Ozista (author)JMorton32016-04-08

It looks great, can I buy this?

JMorton3 (author)Ozista2016-04-10

I designed these boards for a client who is paying to have a large scoreboard built for a local recreational softball field. I redesigned the boards for using 2N2222A transistors for the smaller displays like in the Instructable. I don't have any of the original boards, but I do have several of the redesigned ones. They are bare - you would have to solder in all of the required components. Also, these new boards are controlled with only 3 wires from the Arduino, because the 74HC595s are daisy-chained together onboard. Private message me if you are interested.

soul1974 (author)JMorton32014-11-15

Hi do you have a schematic for the board you made it .

JMorton3 (author)soul19742014-11-16

Here is the schematic of one of the driver circuits on the board. The board drives four of the digits - hence the Quad 7-Segment Driver Board title.

soul1974 (author)JMorton32014-11-18


Please have a look below and tell me if this is correct . There are a few unanswered questions?

1. on your sketch there in front of the tip120 circles with a strip through what are those and number 8 does that connect to a separate 12 v.

2. on the screw terminal you have 8 , 1-7 is led what is the 8 th used for.

soul1974 (author)soul19742014-11-18

Sorry Wrong One Below is the correct one

BrunoF53 (author)soul19742016-04-08

Do you think it'll be possible to have your fritzing file? I'm trying to made my own board, but this is quite hard to do so...

jasit (author)soul19742014-11-18

Take a look at how you connect multiple 74hc595 chips together, they can be daisy chained so that you only need to use 3 pins (plus 5v and Gnd) to the arduino.

soul1974 (author)jasit2014-12-10

Do you have a code for the arduino to run the three pins

jasit (author)soul19742014-11-18

you are also missing you 12 volt output to the red dots on your 8 pin connectors and the 12v gnd should be connected to the 5v ground. I think you are missing connections to the gnds and 5v connections on each of your 74hc595 chips.

JMorton3 (author)soul19742014-11-18

To answer your first question - the circles with the line drawn through it are just representations of the screw terminals. The 8th terminal is used to carry +12VDC to the digit (each segment of that particular display).

jasit (author)JMorton32014-11-18

@JMorton3 I created a copy of the schematic in KiCad, did you want to go over it?

soul1974 (author)jasit2014-11-18

hi do yo still have the drawing and could you pm it to me please .

Thanks for the reply

bentljo (author)JMorton32015-12-11

Any chance you'd have the expresspcb file you would post or pm to me?

JMorton3 (author)bentljo2015-12-11

Give me a day or 2 to find it.

soul1974 (author)JMorton32015-02-18

I have a question or two and i beg you to help me please?

1.Does the arduino supply the leds with g and the 12v power supply or can just the arduino.

2. I dont know where to insert the code for the shift registers supplied by

boscopsoultrane (author)soul19742015-02-18

1. the arduino cannot supply 12volt. The 12 volts (or even 9V would work) is supplied by a power supply. I used a 9 volt supply I had (also known as a "wall wart"). The arduino only controls thru the shift registers the switching of the transistors.

2. The tutorial shows you where to put it. The tutorial does it in a way that is different than what I used. You would have to experiment with their code in order to implement into my code. I did not use byte and did not daisy chain. I cannot help you code something that I haven't done myself. I would use just two digits with the two tenths and hundredths shift registers and see if I could control the output with my arduino.

soul1974 (author)boscopsoultrane2015-02-18

Sorry for the confusion. what I am trying to ask is can I supply the ground to both the shift registers and the led's with the arduino with out using the 12v ground and only using 12 + for the led +. since I am powering the the arduino and led's from the same 12v power supply

boscopsoultrane (author)soul19742015-02-19

the ground for the leds goes thru the arduino, that is what you are switching. The arduino changes the ground with the transistors which grounds the lights you want to light at any given time.

I would not power the arduino with 12volts because the voltage regulator on the arduino has to bring it down to 5volts, and I think that 12volts would be too much to run thru the arduino, it will heat up and damage it.

I do not understand what you mean by not using the 12v ground, how will it work if you don't use it?

soul1974 (author)JMorton32014-12-10

with this new layout what are the pins on the arduino . I have an arduino uno what pins would I use

soul1974 (author)soul19742014-12-10

led's are set out now all I need is to get the code to work with 3 pins and the ground and 5v

jasit (author)JMorton32014-11-07

It looks awesome. I was starting my layout today. And after seeing this, I have to rethink my whole process. I was originally going to make each segment it's own pcb board. but I love the looks of yours. Question, It looks like you are using separate pin sets from arduino to run each of the segments. or do you have it setup that way so you can jumper them in what ever order you want? Again,Awesome Job on the layout.

JMorton3 (author)jasit2014-11-07

Thanks! The three output lines from the Arduino (clock, latch and data) control just the single 7-segment display connected directly across the board from those wires. I have since seen a scheme where the three wires could be used to control two 7-segment displays - but that would be another board or a rework of this one. The reason I went with this size is that I could get the three boards (2.5" x 3.8") done for the $75 charge that expresspcb wanted, and each board could handle 4 digits.

soul1974 (author)JMorton32015-01-12

Any luck with your design yet and code

jasit (author)JMorton32014-11-07

From what I read, here is a sample link,199995.0.html

the bits will over flow from the each of the registers, so if you send 32 bits, it will use the first 8 bits then over flow the 24 bits then over flower the 16 bits and so on. I haven't tried it. you might just need to solder one wire and use it as jumper pin 9 from the 74HC595 to the pin 14 of the next one. I am definitely a beginner at this, At $75 I think I will go the same route.

Would you be willing to share your pcb file, if not that's totally fine. I did find this for your gerber conversion

boscopsoultrane (author)JMorton32014-11-18

that looks really great, good job!

JMorton3 (author)boscopsoultrane2014-11-18

Thanks! I am now redesigning the original boards to allow for the daisy chaining of the 74HC595 chips if desired as well as the screw terminals and RJ45 socket outputs - whichever one is desired.

soul1974 (author)JMorton32014-11-19

any iput would be aprreciated

soul1974 (author)soul19742014-11-19

Revised drawing added in the pin outs for additional boards

JMorton3 (author)soul19742014-11-20

I just noticed that your LED strips are drawn with +5 volts on them - but you have the +12V from the TIP120s wired to them - make sure that the LED strips are 12V not 5V before trying this.

soul1974 (author)JMorton32014-11-24


Could i use 2n3906 instead of the tip120 and what ampage must the 12v be

JMorton3 (author)soul19742014-11-25

The 2N3906 would be used for a common cathode display - and since this is a common anode display, I would recommend the 2N3904 - see the circuits as shown on this page:

soul1974 (author)JMorton32014-11-27

Thanks for the input my question still stands will 2n3904 work

JMorton3 (author)soul19742014-11-28

The 2N3904 would work - but with a much lower current handling characteristic - than the TIP120 - with the display wired in common-anode mode. The 2N3906 would require the display being wired as common-cathode.

soul1974 (author)JMorton32014-11-29

Thanks , it is difficult to get tip 120 where I stay and I am only using 12 volts

soul1974 (author)JMorton32014-11-20


The program does not have 12v option

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