Mini LED Signs

The mini LED signs are similar in nature to the larger LED models, with the exception of their size. The smaller signs can fit on a desk, a keyboard, or even be a badge held on by pin or magnet.

The signs are programmable via a mini USB port — the serial adapter is built right into the sign! What's really sweet is that there's a Perl module that does a lot of the heavy lifting for you; it works with Windows and Linux.

MiniLED Badge

This wearable display has 6 lines of text, 250 characters each. It can display 2 images of 12x384 pixels, with a maximum storage of 1500 ASCII characters or 675 eastern. The display can do fonts in either 12x36 or 12x48 pixels.

It has four special actions: rotate, snow, flash, and hold. It has five speeds. And it has four levels of brightness: 25%, 50%, 75%, and 100%. The brightest setting is 800cd/m2.

Using a poly-lithium ion battery of 240mAh, it takes 2-3 hours to charge. Rating is AC110 -220V, 50Hz -60Hz. Working display time is over 16 hours!

Communication, and charging, is done with a single mini usb.

The power button on the sign simply connects or disconnects the sign from the battery; if it's plugged in to a USB port, the sign will operate, even if turned "off."

Preferred Vendor

Bright Signs Contact: Kerry Schwab <>

Mini LED Signs

The model number conveys the size and kind of the sign. The suffix N is for iNdoor signs, the W is for semi-outdoor (think Window). The signs come in Red, Amber, and tri-color; the latter suffix being RG for red, green, and yellow/amber (when both lit).


Using the Mini Signs with OS X

To make the signs work with OS X isn't hard, it just requires a few steps to setup; most of that is getting a USB serial driver working, and that's not difficult either.

To begin with, you'll need to install a copy of Apple's XCode (free) and from with in it, install the Command Line Developer Tools (see the menu XCode / Preferences..., Downloads).

It also helps to have a recent copy of Perl, but you do not want to step on the copy that the operating system uses. To do this, snag a copy of PerlBrew.

Installation is super easy. Enter this at the Terminal:
curl -kL | bash

You may be asked to append these lines to ~/.bash_profile and then restart your bash shell:
# Perl Brew -- -- curl -kL | bash
source ~/perl5/perlbrew/etc/bashrc

With PerlBrew installed, you'll then install and switch the shell to the specified version, like so:
perlbrew install perl-5.16.0
perlbrew use perl-5.16.0

At this point, a sandboxed version of Perl is installed, and you can add modules. You will be most interested in Device::MiniLED. From Terminal, execute the following perl command followed by the install steps:

$ perl -MCPAN -e shell 
cpan[1]> install CPAN         
cpan[2]> reload CPAN
cpan[3]> install Device::MiniLED
Grab any dependencies, most likely Device::SerialPort
cpan[4]> exit

Before you can use the script, you'll need to have the USB Serial Controller installed. To find out what you need, plug in the sign to the Mac, and run the USB Prober (this is part of XCode, simply search for it with SpotLight).

The device will appear as a USB-Serial Controller. For instance the Device Descriptor section yields "0x067B/0x2303 (Prolific Technology, Inc.)", so we want the PL2303 Serial device driver for Mountain Lion (assuming that's the OS X version you're using).

Unplug the sign.

There's several places we can go to get that driver.

Install the downloaded driver, as you would other software.

Enter $ ls /dev
Plug in the sign.
Enter $ ls /dev
The new entry that appears is the one you want.

It will look like /dev/tty.PL2303-00004006 (kernel extension osx-pl2303.kext) or /dev/tty.usbserial (kernel extension ProlificUsbSerial.kext), these are in /System/Library/Extensions.

Put this in a file called

# man Device::MiniLED
# man Device::SerialPort

use Device::MiniLED;
my $sign=Device::MiniLED->new(devicetype => "badge");
# add a text only message
  data => "Just a normal test message",
  effect => "scroll",
  speed => 4
# $sign->send(device => "COM1");
$sign->send(device => "/dev/tty.usbserial"); # or "/dev/tty.PL2303-00002006" depending on your driver

Then from your Terminal, execute the file: $ perl

Make sure the sign is set to show Message 1 (using the second button on the back; the sign will say M:1).

Some Useful Resources

From the Terminal, you can get additional information:
  • $ man Device::MiniLED
  • $ man Device::SerialPort
  • $ perldoc Device::MiniLED

Also be sure to check out this resource:

[LED Signs] [MindPrint]