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27-12-2012, 03:31 PM
Post: #1
Microcontroller-Based Moving Message Display Powered by Photovoltaic Energy
Microcontroller-Based Moving Message Display Powered by Photovoltaic

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The aim of this paper is to design a textual display
system, based on a light emitting diode (LED) dot matrix
array powered by solar energy. The paper involves taking
the device from an initial concept, through a design phase,
to constructing a prototype of the product. The system
consists of the display unit, which is powered from a
photovoltaic ( PV) module and a solar sealed lead acid
battery.. The self-contained nature of the intended design
will allow the display to be mounted almost anywhere it is
needed. Therefore, the main purpose of this paper is to
utilize the solar energy and a rechargeable battery to
power a universal self-contained characters display unit.
This display unit is useful for creating attention-getting
messages, location identifiers such as maps and address
identification display modules. The implementation of a
moving message display panel which displays a text
containing 22 characters (i.e., PHOTOVOLTAIC
DEPARTMENT), and is powered by a PV module has
been achieved. The control of this panel is based on an
Atmega 8515 a Microcontroller. The used Atmel
Microcontroller is programmed using Assembly language,
through using AVR studio software and STK500 kit. The
photovoltaic module charges the battery during the day
and the battery is continuously feeds the display panel.
The system consists of a single PV module that produces
75 watt, a rechargeable battery (12 V, 100 Ah), a charging
battery controller with an extra regulator circuit (that can
produce 5 V , 1.5 A to feed the display panel and
microcontroller ) and moving message dot matrix
display panel with its rows and columns drivers.
(Atmega8515 microcontroller, dot-matrices, rows and
columns drivers).


As the energy demands around the world increase,
the need to alternative energy sources is increased.
Therefore, it must exploit new and renewable sources of
energy (e.g. solar energy, wind, hydrogen geothermal
….etc.) [1].
Solar energy is a renewable energy source that is
environmentally friendly, unexhausted and unlike fossil
fuels, solar energy is available just about everywhere on
earth and this source of energy is free. Stand-alone
photovoltaic (PV) systems are designed to operate,
independent of electric utility grid. They are excellent for
remote applications where utility grid is inaccessible and
in locations where significant connection cost makes grid
power prohibitively expensive. Such applications include
parking, emergency telephones, temporary traffic signs,
and remote guard posts and signals. Also, PV systems are
generally designed and sized to supply certain. DC and/or
AC electrical loads. Stand – alone PV system with battery
backup can supply power to electrical loads with
availability about 100% during all the operating
environmental conditions. PV systems are generally
designed so that there is a deficit in energy in winter, but
a surplus in summer. This deficit and surplus can lead,
respectively, to over discharging and overcharging of the
batteries, which damage the batteries, shortening their life
and increasing maintenance.

Display Systems Design Procedure

The initial step was the evaluation of the
requirements that needed to be met. Also, the technical
features, physical operation and possible applications for
the design were addressed. Also, the functional
specifications that outlined the purpose and features that
the design would ultimately fulfill were also addressed.
The main control circuit was initially tested on a
breadboard because the microcontroller ports used for
various tasks would ultimately change as the work
developed and until the layout was finalized. Thus, the pin
connections could easily be altered as required. The
microcontroller requires very few external parts for
typical operation.
An illuminated display usually consists of smaller
modules (dot matrix units) arranged together to form a
larger screen, each module usually consisting of a 5 x 7
matrix of LEDs. The minimum number of bits that a
control system has to address for a small 27 module
display is 945, one bit for each LED. The goal of this
paper is to create a display containing approximately 27
modules ( 22 characters + spaces). This means the control
system is required to handle 945 LEDs at any one time.
The Atmel AVR family of controllers provides the
engineer with cost effective solutions in designing low
power control systems.

Expansion of LED Usage

In selecting the LEDs to use for the display the most
freely available units were chosen for their ease of supply.
These units needed to be successively side stackable to
create a large rectangular matrix that forms the display
screen. The most common form of modules of this type
are the 5 x 7 dot matrix units which are widely available
in a variety of sizes. Fig. 2 shows the configuration of this
5 x 7 dot matrix unit [2]. These displays were also
preferred as they have pins that are aligned in a similar
fashion to a DIL integrated circuit. The pin configuration
made it easy to push in and orientate the LED modules on
breadboard and stripboard, as well as making connections
to the pins straightforward.

Testing Procedure

The procedure of continually testing the circuit, as it
was progressively built upon, was an essential part in
maintaining the integrity of the design. When each new
section of the system was developed, it was tested to see
that it functioned properly, and then integrated within the
existing circuit. Finally, the combined circuit was tested to
verify that, jointly both systems operated as expected.
This process of testing in a modular fashion ensured that
once a new module was constructed it was checked for
faults before integrating it with the existing system. The
first form of testing done was on the Atmega-8515
programmer and microcontroller circuit. It was important
to establish the functionality of this circuit, as it forms the
central control for all other parts of the system. The
microcontroller circuits were constructed and a series of
simple experimental programs were developed to test each
of them.


The set goals within this paper have been achieved,
proving the feasibility of the display. The prototype was
extremely developed economically using several
stripboards on which the components were mounted.
Through this type of construction, modifications could be
easily made before entering into the development of larger
scales, and more costly prototypes. The designed standalone
PV system is cost-effective.
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