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As with many inventions it became because of a need. I needed a very large display for a project but could not find a simple and extendible design, so I created this one.

It’s a single modular 3D printed digit mounted onto a sheet of acrylic. This allows you to slide several of these modules together into a simple wooden frame to make a display as long as you need. From 2 characters to 10 or more… You also have the choice to programme either a simple Arduino Nano or ESP8266 to drive the display - allowing you to use it to show text, numbers, or animations.

The display is bright enough to be seen easily in bright environments and the addressable LED’s are diffused well thanks to the frosted acrylic inserts. As they are RGB LED’s (basically ‘Neopixels’) you can also use colour to convey information on your display.

It is a very personalisable project - I’ve provided the framework of the the display and you can program it to display whatever you want it to.

The one I am building for this Instructable will be installed at my local swimming pool to be used by the adult and junior swim clubs as a remotely controllable lap timer using a Radio Frequency Fob to control it from the pool side. I also incorporated some optional additional features to harden it against both the high humidity poolside and any stray poolside toys such as balls.

As with all my projects I have also created an accompanying video. The first few minutes covers the overview of the design and build process before going through the build itself in much greater detail. I will be including all the same details here in written form in this Instructable along with plenty of photographs to illustrate each step to help ensure you have every success in building your own.

To make one of your own you will need a few parts:

WS2812B LEDS 60/m (1 Meter required per digit)
Power supply 5v (x1) (Budget at least 1.5amps per digit, 3.6 amps if your going to turn them all on bright white simultaneously).
Barrel Connector (x1)
Plenty of M3x6 bolts
5mm Solid Acrylic
3mm Semi-translucent/Frosted Acrylic
3D Printer Filament
A microcontroller, either

Elegoo Arduino Nano (x1)

Wemos D1 Mini and LLC for Wifi and IoT Control (x1)
Logic Level Shifter (74AHCT125)

To connect the electronics either:

Projects PCB from PCBWay
Wago style connectors or similar:

Optional radio control add-on:

Radio Receiver
Radio transmitter fob
Some wood for the frame. I used four pieces of pine 20x68x436mm (x2) and 20x68x381mm (x2)”

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