0. Computer Aided Design

Final Project Proposal: Modular Split Flap Display


Split flap displays have been commonly used throughout history in public transportation depots such as train stations and airports to display information to patrons about arrivals and departure. At the consumer level, these types of displays were used in simple desk and kitchen clocks. They're ability to automatically shuffle letters made them the most adaptable displays of the time. With the rapid development of televisions and other cheap electronic displays within the last couple of decades, most split flaps have disappeared. However, some can still be found in a few train stations around the world, the closest to Boston being at the MBTA Commuter 128 stop in Westwood (the source of my inspiration)!

A quick online search will show that these displays have become popular in making communities recently. A number of hackaday and design studio projects have been assembled using a couple of letters, but the assembly and useability is limited by the number of modules and the challenge of linking them together. In order to update the project, I would like to create individual modules with communication links on the sides, so they can be set in any order and still function. The modules will be able to determine their positions in the chain, and respond by displaying the corresponding letter in the string. A simple and reconfigurable display, with the nostaligic mechanics of the beloved split flap board.