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Hacking House Numbers for Fun (?) and Profit (?)

My wife and I recently bought a set of reasonably tasteful LED house numbers and I decided to work on putting them up today. They’re the modular kind where you can hook up to five numbers together and power them with a single module.

Well, I popped the numbers out of their packaging and screwed them together following the instructions. Added the power module. Plugged it in. Covered the daylight sensor.


Time to look closer.

Mini-USB-B-type-Cable 13916-480x360 (4817557098)

Boy, that connector on the power adapter sure looks familiar. It’s our old friend Mini-USB B! Each of the included numbers has a pair of Mini-USB connectors, one male and one female that are used to connect the numbers together.

Wait. It can’t be that easy… can it? Checking the adapter carefully showed the output as 5V DC 0.2A. The pin-out diagram had +5V on one side and Ground on the other, matching the Mini-USB spec. Maybe…

A quick rummage in my Big Bag O’ Cables and I found that powered USB hub that I bought in college and the Mini-USB cable that came with it. Plugged in the hub, hooked the sign up to it and we’re off to the races. Turns out these fancy LED signs are literally a USB power adapter, a $2 daylight sensor, and a pile of LEDs in a waterproof housing. You can even power them from either end of the bus.

Turns out the power adapter is bad, so the power module is going back tomorrow. In the meantime, I put the house numbers in the front window and plugged the USB hub into a day / night timer so they turn on and off when they’re supposed to. Not quite according to plan but hey, it’s progress.


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