Remote Controlled Arduino Scoreboard using LED Strips

Picture of Remote Controlled Arduino Scoreboard using LED Strips
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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.
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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.

JMorton315 days ago

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?

boscopsoultrane (author)  JMorton315 days ago

If you mean in the code... you can assign wherever you wish. I think what happened is i originally designed the scoreboard to use an Arduino mini and it wasn't working for all 5 digits so i switched it to an Arduino Mega and probably put the tens where i needed them at the time. Each set of three pins is for each shift register but it doesn't really matter which pins you use as long as it's not 0 or1. My code is far from being the most efficient or logical code, so feel free to experiment. I would start out with one digit and then expand to two, then all five.

Thanks! I'll probably keep them grouped together in 3's.

I am in the process of doing the artwork for a printed circuit board for the 74HC595s and the TIP120s. I am planning on using the TIP120s due to making the digits larger for a scoreboard I'm building for a local recreation field, and since I know those transistors are way oversized, I shouldn't ever have to replace them. I just realized that I had forgotten the resistor for each transistor, so it is back to the drawing board for some modification. I'm doing the artwork using good ol' Windows Paint.

This is my very first Arduino project, and am really looking forward to this. As I understand your write-up, I need to download and install the library for the IR remote before trying the Sketch into the Arduino?
wiffleball2 months ago

Can anyone explain to me the purpose of the transistors and if they're necessary? I'm wondering if I can get by using just 470 ohm resistors.

boscopsoultrane (author)  wiffleball2 months ago

The transistors are necessary. You don't need to use a heavy duty transistor as I did since you are not passing high current as you would if the LED strips were of a longer length. But since the lengths of LED strip I used were no longer than 9 LEDs long, you could use a NPN transistor instead of the heavy duty ones, like a 2N3906 NPN transistor. The transistors are needed because the LED strips run on 12 volts of power. The Arduino can only switch 5 volts. The purpose is that the Arduino will switch the transistor on/off with the 5 volts supply. Using 470 ohm resistors will not work as you think they will. You will burn out your Arduino if it happens to work at all. Each set of three LEDs is driven in series. They will work with a 9 volt supply but appear dimmer. See Adafruit's tutorial here: .

Oh okay thanks so much for that explanation! Instead of the Arduino though, I'm planning to use two CD4033B decade counters for the 2 digits. The specs of this has a VDD max voltage of 20, if I'm not mistaken the VDD is also what voltage it can switch (at least thats what I was told). Does that mean that I don't need the capacitors? Sorry if this a far fetched question.

boscopsoultrane (author)  wiffleball1 month ago

there are no capacitors in the circuit, you might be asking if you still need the transistors? Probably not. It depends, if you'll notive, my digits are set up with a common anode configuration. This essentially means that when the Arduino and transistors switch they are allowing the LED strip to complete the circuit to ground. With the CD4033B counter you could set up it for common cathode. If the input is 20 volts, what is the output? The output would need to be from 9-12 volts to turn on each segment. I am not sure if the counters you want to use are for regular small 7-segment displays. The small 7 segment displays use a lower voltage (probably only 5V) and smaller resistors. You might want to research other projects using the decade counter. Remember that these digits made with the LED strips are unique and aren't the same as a regular 7-segment LED. I would set up a test wuith the counters using a regular 7 segment with 5 volt supply then switch it to a 12 volt supply with a couple LED stips (maybe hooked up to b and c) then you can see if it works or not and what intensity of light you get. If that works then expand to the full 7 segments and one digit. Do some testing without soldering anything, just attach the wires with test leads. That is how I designed the scoreboard.

nodoubtman2 months ago

Hi! any clear schematics avaible?


boscopsoultrane (author)  nodoubtman2 months ago

The only schematics available are what are posted. They are more of a physical representation instead of a schematic. All you really need is a representation of the one numeral and then it is repeated as many times as needed (here five times).

Paul McAlpine2 months ago

Is it possible to get a model number for the Ardunio. I am hoping to get the same one if possible.


boscopsoultrane (author)  Paul McAlpine2 months ago

The Arduino I used was the Arduino Mega which leaves you many pins to use. Just change the code as needed to set up the pins the way you want.

vverno2 months ago

Is the Arduino necessary? I know very very little about circuitry and I was wondering if it is possible to do with just a counting IC. If not what role does the Arduino play and if i could just use an IC chip that has the counting functionality?

boscopsoultrane (author)  vverno2 months ago

The Arduino also uses an IR library for the remote. The Arduino also keeps track of the count and has a reset to zero. I guess you could try it without the Arduino, but the Arduino makes it easier. Also, if you want to add additonal features, you could just change the code.

Thanks! All I'm looking for is a basic home vs. visitor scoreboard as of now. Would I need that to have it controlled via remote?

boscopsoultrane (author)  vverno2 months ago

no, you could use pushbuttons.

wiffleballguy6 months ago

This is a very cool project. Do you happen to have a schematic diagram of it?


merlin2049er11 months ago
That's great. I was looking into a diy score board for my squash scoring app, but decided to do the scoreboard on a tablet (or android tv stick).

What you can add is bluetooth to your arduino and write a scoring app for android (for your scoreboard.)
nasasquatch11 months ago
This is great! I want to do the same. I found a similar project, but it was 3-4 years old. I like your use of LED strips better. I will need to add balls and strikes and would like to include a timer, as well. I would also like to control with a smartphone app over an AD-hoc wifi network. Any ideas for those additions? Thanks. Your project is impressive.
boscopsoultrane (author)  nasasquatch11 months ago
Thank you.

I did error with the outs, there should be only two, so if you were to add balls and strikes, you would only need 3 and 2, respectively.

A timer wouldn't be needed with a baseball/softball scoreboard, but if you were to modify it for football or basketball, it would need a clock. An arduino is not the most accurate time-keeper, so I would think you would have to use a real-time clock. With football, you would need to add downs and yards to go and perhaps timeouts instead of outs.

As far as the smartphone control, you are on your own, I wouldn't know where to start! I think if everything is done up to a certain point, changing over from IR to wifi wouldn't be too difficult.

The TIP-120 transistors I used were overkill. I am sure using smaller transistor packages like 2N2222s would be more than enough, since the strips used for each segment are only 6 LEDs long. The segments could also be made larger or thicker if needed. Also, a lens that is opaque could be used to disperse the LED light a bit, as it is really bright at times.

The copper tape circuit was fun to do, but the whole circuit could be done in miniature, taking up a fraction of the size.
great -ible!

I think i will build a clock to put in my garage with maybe some opaque Plexi-glass over it to diffuse the eye melting light. lol.

have you thought about putting a faceplate over the wiring to clean it up? heck you could even put some clear Plexi-glass and take it to school and use it to demonstrate how circuitry works to kids.

Nonsense! The copper tape really helps visualize the wiring layout. It kills me when some one posts an -ible and it is just a crazy mass of wires and little/no instructions or a clear wiring diagram.
boscopsoultrane (author)  ak47freak11 months ago
Originally i was going to mount the copper tape directly to a large glass tabletop but this wasn't feasible because of weight and safety issues. I purposely made the circuit to be seen, I haven't put a protective plexiglas cover on it yet, but will in the future.

I am also planning on taking it to the other extreme and use only smt parts instead and make the controls really small. I also plan on making my own remote control.
nodoubtman11 months ago
no but it is on youtube, i don't really have the patience to post it on instructables, and and i don't know how to upload it..

see the clock :
thermometer :

but the video is in french

nodoubtman11 months ago
I did a digital clock and a thermometer using led strip. I control each segment with a 2n2222 transistor. Led strips are bright ideas for making such of projects.

thank you!
boscopsoultrane (author)  nodoubtman11 months ago
Yeah, I realized after ordering the 38 TIP-120s that they would have been
great if I were controlling a full reel of LEDs, not just a tiny 6 LED strip. I definitely should have used the 2N2222s instead, it would've been cheaper and neater. There's always next time!

Is your clock and thermometer an Instructable?