Controlling the Annax flip-dot display through the control board.

Here are some draft notes to get you started on controlling the signs… more coming soon!

– Debug header (J1_10, unlatched 40-pin header) breaks out all of the control signals to the row/column decode logic.

– In order to override the address lines, microcontroller must be held in the RESET state so it does not drive the address, data, or strobe lines on the debug header. The programming header has the RESET line broken broken out (pin 7) which can be strapped to +5V.

– Note that column bits 5 and 6 actually determine which panel is written to. While this can be treated as part of the column address it means that there are some invalid addresses (columns 31,32 on 30-column panels, and columns 26..32 on 25-column panels).

See photo for pin identification information.

In order to set or clear a dot, its address must be set on the ROW and COL pins. The DATA pin controls whether the dot is set or cleared, and a low pulse on the STROBE pin causes the pin dot to change state.

Further information will be posted here as it becomes available.


Flip-Dot Tetris?

The coolest way to play Tetris is on a Flip-Dot display.

The Flip-Dot modules used in this video are similair to the Annax modules.

Further info on how they modified their modules is available here (German site, read with google translate).


Flip-dot video and blog

I recently stumbled across an interesting video and blog entry with details on controlling a similar Annax flip-dot display with a Atmel microcontroller… The German (translate with google) blog site is located here:

The flip-dot display in the video is similar to the flip-dot displays that I have available. There are several differences though such as my flip-dots have a LED integrated into each flip-dot pixel and the rear connectors are different.

Buy flip-dot modules

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Check out the best value flip-dot modules for sale on ebay right now: ebay flip-dots

ANNAX flip-dot modules are high quality, precision, electromagnetic displays. They are made to a very high standard and are tough enough to withstand the rigours of everyday commercial use in the harshest of environments.

The ANNAX model: zm16c25 and zm16c30 are an advanced hybrid display combining both flip-dot and led technology.

Flip-dot sign internal wiring layout

The ANNAX fliop-dot sign wiring layout (rear of sign)


There are eight ribbon cables which connect the control board to the four ANNAX flip-dot modules. Care must be taken to ensure that the cables are connected correctly otherwise there is a risk of damaging the control board and/or the flip-dot modules.

The sign above consists of four flip-dot modules. The cables 1, 2, 5 and 6 connect to the two ZM16C30 modules. Cables 3, 4, 7 and 8 connect to the ZM16C25 modules.

  • Cable 1 and 2 – ZM16C30
  • Cable 3 and 4 – ZM16C25
  • Cable 5 and 6 – ZM16C30
  • Cable 7 and 8 – ZM16C25


Flip-dots up close

Each flip-dot sign contains 4 flip-dot modules (2x 16×25 + 2x 16×30).

The modules consist of between 400 to 480 flip-dots grouped into rows of 5 which can be removed (carefully) from the board. This makes it easy to replace any faulty flip-dots.

To remove the flip-fots from the board gently lever a thin tool underneath, making sure not to catch the coils as you lift them up. It may be safer to simply use a fingernail to prise them up and off the board. When replacing, simply line them up and gently push down.