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LED marquee (controlled by BASIC Stamp 2)

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cheesy9999

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I know VERY little about electronics, especially microprocessors and programming, but I'll be a freshman majoring in EE next year...so I'm ready to learn! If I say anything stupid please bare with me :)

Here's my idea:

I want to make a licence plate frame that has a small LED marquee built in. I'm not sure how many LEDs would be required, but quite a few I imagine.

This would most likely be controlled by a BASIC Stamp 2 microcontroller. I plan on integrating this into my car so that I will have a BASIC Stamp 2 and a couple buttons controlling various things (via relays) such as neon lighting etc. It will also have a LCD display to navigate, and possibly a keypad. More on that in a minute.

Obviously there aren't nearly enough outputs on the stamp to control each LED, so would I use a bunch of serial to parallel converters or maybe a PIC or what? Any ideas? I'm thinking maybe I culd use the BASIC stamp (which I will have anyway) to send the text to a PIC controller which will decode it and turn on the LEDs.

As for the actual text, I was thinking I could either preprogram a bunch of phrases, OR get some sort of keypad. If I got a standard numeric keypad I'm sure I could program it like cell phones (where you press 2 once for A, twice for B, three times for C, etc), or is it possible to get a small QWERTY keyboard that will work?
 
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