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Be-Boppin' Boogie Lights LED Message Board
Be-Boppin' Boogie Lights LED Message Board, retail $80* (http://www.kbtoys.com)
Manufactured by Goldmen Electronic Company, LTD., Hong Kong
Last updated 03-18-06
One of the two Boogie Lights was lost in a move between 10-10-04 and 10-20-04; but I still have the other (diffuse LED version).
This unusual item was found at KB toy stores not long ago. Apparently, they're either being discontinued or simply won't be sold at KB once the existing supply runs out. The original price was found to be as high as $80, but they're being sold for anywhere between $15 and $28, depending on the store and any extra discounts that may be local to your KB toy store.
The Be-Boppin' Boogie Lights is a scrolling LED message board, designed to scroll any of a number of "canned" message across a large LED matrix, or scroll a user-typed message of up to 60 characters. It also functions as a very large digital clock, providing hours/minutes/seconds and AM/PM indication.
The Boogie Lights unit comes ready to use straight out of the box. Batteries are included, pre-installed in the unit, but they may not be at full capacity if the unit was displayed on the sales floor and its "Demo" button was used a lot. So it's probably a good idea to pick up a set or two of C cell alkaline cells when you buy one of these.
A full set of instructions is included with the Boogie Lights that details exactly how to make it work. Here is the short version.
To display any of the canned messages, turn the Mode Select switch to the center position (Message). Open the hinged keyboard cover, and choose a message from the many that are shown on the lid, and press the corresponding letter on the keyboard. That message will instantly come on and scroll right to left.
To have it display your own message, slide the Mode Select switch to the left (Input), and type your message on the keyboard. Letters, punctuation, numbers, and a handful of animated special graphics are all available. More on the special characters later.
When you're finished with your message (which can be up to 60 characters & spaces long), press the Scroll key, and your message will scroll right to left until you shut the unit off, change modes, or stop it with a second press of the Scroll key.
The unit will retain your message in memory for as long as power is available; so it can be lost if you change the batteries without having the unit plugged in. To play back your saved message any time, just set the Mode Select switch to Input, and then press Recall and then Scroll on the keyboard.
The unit can also function as a digital clock. To get it to do this, just turn the Mode Select switch to the Message position, and press the Clock key on the keyboard. Setting the clock is easier than setting a VCR too. With the clock on the display, pressing the Hour, Minute, and Second buttons sets the hours, minutes, and seconds, respectively.
It comes with a stand, or it can be hung off a wall.
The unit comes with batteries, and is also equipped with a jack for an AC adapter, which you will have to find and buy seperately. One user reported that a standard 6VDC adapter was too much for it, and switched to a 4.5VDC adapter and has had no problems since. On the jack, the pin in the center is positive; and the outer rim is negative. This is fairly standard, but check the adapter before you plug it in just to be sure because not all adapters have this polarity. Some of these "backwards polarity" adapters come with a special plug you can un-do and then reverse, while with others you'll have to either shop for another, or cut the wires and reverse them yourself.
Boogie Lights operates on 4 C cells or an AC adapter. To change the batteries, turn the unit over and unlatch the battery cover.
Dump out the dead batteries, and slide in four new ones, negative (flat) end going in first. Then replace the battery cover.
Battery life is not listed and is not yet known. I'll have to burn a couple of sets through it to determine this.
The thing that surprised me most about this product was that it actually has a fully loaded, easy to use, and quite functional keyboard. I've seen $400 message display boards that were more difficult to use than the Boogie Lights.
The only really major downside to the Boogie Lights is that it has very limited memory for user-entered text: only 60 bytes. That's 60 letters, numbers, symbols, and spaces. Then it's FULL, and no more text can be entered. One would think that with current technology, it would be no biggie to stuff a few K worth of memory in there at virtually no extra cost.
But limited memory or not, you can still have fun with it.
One of the first tests I do with a messaging type display board is to check for an onboard censor. The Boogie Lights does not have one, so you can type it full of cuss words and it will happily spout off the stream of obscenities to whoever looks at it.
I had to censor this picture because Boogie Lights didn't. :)
The Boogie Lights apparently comes in two distinct versions: one with red "pinpoint" LEDs that have transparent cases, and another with the more traditional diffused red LEDs usually found in scrolling message boards.
Clear LED version on top. With photoflash.
Same setup, without photoflash.
The version using the diffused LEDs is brighter, easier to read from any angle, and has better-formed letters. If the batteries in the unit you're looking at in the store are dead, you should be able to shine a flashlight into it and see the opaque red balls making up the display - this is the version you'll probably want. That doesn't mean the clear LED version is BAD, not by any means. It's just not quite as bright, and the individual dots making up the letters are small and point-like. Any child (or child at heart) would still love to have it, small dots or not. Other than the type of LEDs used, both versions appear to be identical.
The Boogie Lights can be hung from a wall using a pair of small screws to fit a pair of keyhole slots on the back, or it can be placed anywhere else on its large, stable stand.
The unit snaps onto the stand's pylon, and can be easily removed just by pressing the two red buttons at the top of the pylon and lifting the Boogie Lights straight off.
Two members of CPF sent one of these at just about the same time (thanks guys!), and as it turns out, I got one of each version which is very good for you. Additional pictures will be taken to help you distinguish them in the toy store.
The product is still functioning; I've had it on 24/7 since I received it, except for a brief hiatus in late-2004 when I moved.
As proof, I offer this photograph which was taken at 11:22am PST today (03-18-06):
Can be programmed by the user to display a custom message
No onboard censor, so the user can type bad words into it
Runs on AC adapter OR batteries
Limited to 60 characters in custom message mode
No onboard censor, so the user can type bad words into it
Custom message becomes lost if batteries poop out
MANUFACTURER: Goldmen Electronic Co. LTD
PRODUCT TYPE: Scrolling LED message sign
LAMP TYPE: LED, 3mm red
No. OF LAMPS: ~500
BEAM TYPE: Wide-angle
SWITCH TYPE: Slide switches & rubber key keyboard
BEZEL: Transparent red window
BATTERY: 4x C cells or AC adapter
CURRENT CONSUMPTION: Unknown/unable to measure
WATER RESISTANT: No
ACCESSORIES: 4 C cell batteries
WARRANTY: Not stated
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