need help “hacking” LED display

The display is a scrolling LED sign which looks like this:

enter image description here

It is also distributed in the US by Grandwell (SLC16H-IR). The messaging software that it comes with does not allow full control of the sign (On/Off, display different files, ect). It comes with a remote control that can do these functions, but I want to use it for an embedded application and this just won’t do.

If anyone knows how to dump the Flash memory on this processor, SyncMOS SM89516A, then I can add some function calls to the software and get the control that I want (for the price I want). Any ideas? I’m exploring the MSM9042 ISP Download Board from the SyncMOS website, which may or may not work.


My first idea is that hacking the software may require more work than building a display from scratch. You could cannibalize the display itself and connect your own controller to it.

If you want to do it with the SM89516A, it appears to have a 8051 core, but on the pinout I can’t see any special pins for programming. It probably uses a pair of I/O pins like UART to communicate with the programmer. There’s no standard for this, I’ve already seen different protocols for it, which means you’re out of luck if you can’t find it documented in some SyncMOS document.
You may have to disconnect the programming pins because they may be used for other functions. This could mean patching the PCB as well.
I would go for a new controller. The interface will be simple if you use the existing display as a module.

Looking at the documents on the SyncMOS website, they don’t look very encouraging. Application note for programming is an animated GIF(!), showing how to program the device on a Hi-Lo programmer. Nothing wrong with Hi-Lo, but I tend to stay away as far as possible from companies which don’t manage to create better documents.
The Hi-Lo also suggest that the programming protocol may be somewhat involved.

Source : Link , Question Author : Andy Dotzlaf , Answer Author : stevenvh

1 thought on “need help “hacking” LED display”

  1. I have one of this and the included PC program (editor.exe – v3.4.2. a.k.a TIAOPING.EXE) does allow to program a on/off timer, sequences with their own schedule composed of a particular succession of user programs; each program being any arrangement of text with different display methods, fonts, etc.
    It is not a great program, but it does the work.

    The PC program communicates with the LED sign using an RS-232 port and it worked fine on Windows 8 with and USB to RS-232 adapter. I would suggest to intercept the RS-232 communications in order to discover the internal communication protocol.

    Hope this helps and good luck.


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