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Build Your Team A Professional Sports Scoreboard; Pt.1

By Jim Rowe

Commercially available basketball scoreboards have price tags starting at about $2500 and zooming upwards into the stratosphere if you want features like a wireless control console. That means they’re generally out of the question for amateur and school sports teams with plenty of enthusiasm but almost no budget.

Click for larger image

If you’re in that position, what would you say to a scoreboard you can build yourself for a fraction of the cost of a commercial model? Not only that but it boasts features like big, bright digits 130mm high and a wireless console that can be up to 50 metres or so from the scoreboard itself. It also offers modular construction, so it can be built up easily by a group of people – as long as they have a modest amount of experience assembling electronic projects and some basic woodworking skills.

Sounds like a pretty good project for school technology classes, doesn’t it? Especially if the school has some keen basketballers but very little money to spend on luxury facilities like a scoreboard.

As you can see from the features box and the photos, the scoreboard offers most of the features found on the majority of commercial units. It has a 2.5-digit display for each team’s score, able to show scores up to 199. It also has a single digit display for the current game period, able to show 1/2/3/4 or an "E" for extra time. And finally, there’s the 4-digit countdown timer display, which shows the remaining time in the current period in minutes and seconds for all except the last minute, when it automatically swings over to showing seconds and tenths of a second. A colon is displayed between the minutes and seconds, while a single "decimal point" appears during the final minute – so it’s always easy to see which mode it’s in.

Electronic Scoreboard: Main Features
  • Four separate displays for Home and Away team scores (0-199), current game period (1-2-3-4-E) and the period countdown timer.
  • Display digits are all 130mm high and are formed using high-brightness 10mm LEDs (four per digit segment). The team score displays are in green, the current period in orange and the timer displays in red for easy reading.
  • The period countdown timer display shows minutes and seconds during most of each game period but automatically changes over to seconds and 1/10 seconds during the last minute of play. The end of each game period is also signalled by a brief burst of sound from a piezo siren.
  • All scoreboard functions are controlled by a small wireless console which can be located at almost any convenient location inside the court.
  • Console buttons allow easy addition of 3, 2 or 1 points to the score of either team, along with the ability to subtract 1 from either team's score in the event of penalties and scoring disputes.
  • Console features extra buttons to start the next game period, stop the countdown timer (Time Out) or restart it again (Time In) - plus a pair of buttons which must be pressed together to reset the scoreboard for a new game. This last pair of buttons must be pressed together twice, to confirm that you really do want to reset the board (which should prevent you accidentally wiping the scores and timers clean.
  • Unit can be set up to play according to either NBA, FIBA (International) or NCAA basketball rules. This is done by setting DIP switches inside the console.
  • Both the scoreboard and the control console operate from 12V DC - eg, from either 12V plug pack supplies or 12V batteries. There are no dangerous voltages anywhere inside. This also means they can be used in areas where there is no mains power.

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