About Me

Cheroquee, a proof-of-concept programmable marquee display

Posted: March 27, 2019


Let's be clear, I'm a white non-Cherokee-speaker showing off a potential tech tool for Cherokee-speakers. I worry about being insensitive, insulting, condescending, or inaccurate; I strive to be none of those things as I present this project. But if I screw up or speak out-of-turn, please tell me!

My scope and intentions are pretty small, here. There's a long history of prescriptivist anglophones unceremoniously thrusting new language tools on people, and I am not trying to be that! There are lots of immediately-apparent ways to improve it, however, I'll only continue this project if someone else has a real, acceptable use for it. If you write to me with one, I'll work with you at whatever level of involvement you deem appropriate. Thanks.

LED displays for more languages!

Check out the Github repo, it's got my protoboard design and all the code!

Have you ever seen a scrolling marquee that could display Cherokee? How about Tifinagh, vertical Mongolian, Deseret, or N'Ko? Based on my quick research, none of these have ever existed on LED displays. There's no technological hurdle that I can see; just a lack of demand, or lack of utility, or something. I can imagine them being fairly useful, though! Even as technology brings us sharper displays and higher def TVs, I still see blocky LED marquees all over buses, markets, and schools.

So here's my proof-of-concept Cherokee marquee: Cheroquee. The reason I started with Cherokee instead of N'Ko, Tifinagh, or another writing system is simply because I already had a pixel font prepared for Cherokee.

The display electronics operate on the same principles as any large LED array: multiplexed subsets controlled by shift registers. Reprogramming the display is done by a Python script run on a Raspberry Pi Zero. It could be done on any number of smaller, cheaper microcontrollers, without Python even, without much fuss! For the reasons described above, I'm not planning to make any more changes, but there's a lot that could be done and I hope someone feels inspired to ask questions and/or continue the work!