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'Upper and Lower Case 7 Seg Characters'
1998\07\26@105311 by Thomas McGahee

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Paul,
You are right. 'f' and 'F' are the same. Lower case characters are
always a bit difficult. 'D' is identical to 'O'. 'A' is the same as 'R'. Yet
the human mind can often distinguish the correct letter by the
*context* in which it is used.

Upper case looks best. In the examples
below, most people have no difficulty reading 'DANGER' instead of
'OANGER', and 'UPPER CASE ONLY' instead of 'UPPEA CRSE ONLY'. In this case,
the 'R' and 'A' have the same shape, but are properly distinguished by
most people. The mind will boggle at things like 'DOODAR', because it has
no clues, and the identical letters are adjacent.
_  _  _  _  _  _
| ||_|| ||_ |_ |_|
|_|| || ||_||_ | |

   _  _  _  _   _  _  _  _   _  _
| ||_||_||_ |_| |  |_||_ |_  | || ||  |_|
|_||  |  |_ | | |_ | | _||_  |_|| ||_  _|

There is more to this 'than meets the eye'. The brain is an
amazing thing!

Hope this helps.
Fr. Tom McGahee
----------
{Quote hidden}

1998\07\27@133548 by myke predko

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Tom McGahee wrote:
{Quote hidden}

I disagree and to test out my feeling I printed out the two examples from
your note and passed it around to a few people at work.  After a few
seconds, some people figured out the first one was "danger", but nobody
really got the the second example in less than thirty seconds.

Nobody I talked to felt the quality of this was good enough for using with
somebody that's not familiar with this type of character set.


About twenty years ago, TI came up with a character set for using a seven
segment display which is actually a lot better for most characters.  Using
it, the examples above become:

>    _     _  _
> _||_| _ |_ |_  _
>|_|| || ||_||_ |
>
>    _  _  _      _  _     _   _
>   |_||_||_  _  |  |_| _ |_  | | _ |  |_|
>|_||  |  |_ |   |_ | | _||_  |_|| ||_  _|

Which is only marginally better and still requires the user to understand
the character set (Note what happened to "s" so that it can be
differentiated with "5").  Other problem characters include "K", "M", "N",
"Q", "T", "V", "W", "X" and "Z".

I guess using a character set like this on a seven segment display is
acceptable if the developer is the only person using it, but otherwise I
would never consider using it.

If you want to output characters, you should look at a 16 segment LED
display (which is designed for alpha-numerics) or, even better, use an LCD
display (which will probably end up being cheaper and easier to wire).

myke

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1998\07\27@133647 by paulb

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Thomas McGahee wrote:

> Yet the human mind can often distinguish the correct letter by the
> *context* in which it is used.

 It does a very good job in this regard.

 In this case, and exemplified by your ASCII graphics, it looks just
that much more suggestive without the "corners".  It looks a bit more
legible to me however with a space between characters:
     _   _   _   _    _   _   _   _    _   _
| | |_| |_| |_  |_|  |   |_| |_  |_   | | | | |   |_|
|_| |   |   |_  | |  |_  | |  _| |_   |_| | | |_   _|

> There is more to this 'than meets the eye'. The brain is an
> amazing thing!

 More than that, it can even see things that aren't visible (or aren't
even there) by the same mechanism.

 Cheers,
       Paul B.

1998\07\27@143415 by paulb

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myke predko wrote:

> I disagree and to test out my feeling I printed out the two examples
> from your note and passed it around to a few people at work.

> I guess using a character set like this on a seven segment display is
> acceptable if the developer is the only person using it, but otherwise
> I would never consider using it.

 Oh dear!  I didn't want to start a vendetta!
--
 Cheers,
       Paul B.

1998\07\28@151628 by John Payson

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[quoting]

> _  _  _  _  _  _
>| ||_|| ||_ |_ |_|
>|_|| || ||_||_ | |
>
>    _  _  _  _   _  _  _  _   _  _
>| ||_||_||_ |_| |  |_||_ |_  | || ||  |_|
>|_||  |  |_ | | |_ | | _||_  |_|| ||_  _|
>
>There is more to this 'than meets the eye'. The brain is an
>amazing thing!

I disagree and to test out my feeling I printed out the two examples from
your note and passed it around to a few people at work.  After a few
seconds, some people figured out the first one was "danger", but nobody
really got the the second example in less than thirty seconds.

If you want to output characters, you should look at a 16 segment LED
display (which is designed for alpha-numerics) or, even better, use an LCD
display (which will probably end up being cheaper and easier to wire).

[me]
Seven-segment displays generally produce pretty bad-looking alpha characters, and any application which does lots of alpha displays, or that requires distinguishing upper-and-lower case, or distinguishing letters from numbers, should use something else.  That being said, it's still possible (and often useful) to display a variety of prompts and things using 7-seg displays, especially if variations in working or capitalization are acceptable (i.e. if you can select things that work well).

The characters "ACEFGHJLPU" and "bcdfhinortu" can be displayed clearly and with no ambiguity (except for "f/F"); the only character that may be a little hard to recognize is "t".  Additionally, the characters "IlOS" may be read clearly if context clearly indicates that they are not numbers.  The characters "BDZ" may show up okay if other clues are available (i.e. OANGER will probably be correctly interpreted as "DANGER").  The characters "n" and 'r" may be displayed in "tall" versions to help them blend in with other uppercase letters.

In general, I like to work out prompts so that only clearly-reading characters are used, and so that unnatural variations between upper/lowercase are avoided.  I would probably write DANGER as "dANGER" [where "n" and "r" are  the tall versions of "n" and "r"] since I really hate using "O" for "D", but I would probably write "LU8E" in preference to "LubE" or "LUbE".

By the way, many pinball machines a decade ago used two 14-segment and two 7-segment score displays (e.g. PIN-BOT, High Speed, Taxi, etc.); the distinction was generally not visible to the player because the screen displays were designed around this limitation, e.g.

      REACH   EARTH
      For     SPEC1AL

Often such designs can be cheaper than using 14-segment displays for everything.

IMHO, if you're going with LCD displays, then unless power consumption is a great concern using an alphanumeric module may be better than using 7-segment displays.  On the other hand, LED displays are much more visible than LCD modules, and are quite adequate for many purposes (nb: pinball machines generally not among them; such machines--including those named above--usually use neon displays).

1998\07\28@154549 by er

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--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
--------------
Simply activate the strange writing and
change the font to Courier.  Couldn't be
more readable.

{Original Message removed}

1998\07\31@082824 by Lou Calkins

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>About twenty years ago, TI came up with a character set for using a seven
>segment display which is actually a lot better for most characters.  Using
>it, the examples above become:
>
>>    _     _  _
>> _||_| _ |_ |_  _
>>|_|| || ||_||_ |
>>
>>    _  _  _      _  _     _   _
>>   |_||_||_  _  |  |_| _ |_  | | _ |  |_|
>>|_||  |  |_ |   |_ | | _||_  |_|| ||_  _|
>
>Which is only marginally better and still requires the user to understand
>the character set (Note what happened to "s" so that it can be
>differentiated with "5").  Other problem characters include "K", "M", "N",
>"Q", "T", "V", "W", "X" and "Z".
>

There are some inconsistancies here.  You say that the S needs to be
different from the numeral 5, but yet the G in the first example uses the
same segments as the numeral 6 (and your O uses the same segments as the
numeral 0).  Why not let the S be the same segments as the 5?  Unless you
are displaying amateur radio call signs, there probably would not be a problem.

I just finished a project where I needed to have a number representing
seconds displayed.  I used a space and S (same as 5) at the end, and I did
not have room for SEC.  I will admit it looks a little wierd when displaying
5 seconds (looks like 5 5).  The space helps it to looks a little better, so
context does help.

The most difficult one I had to do was a project with thermocouples where I
needed to show types J, K, T and E.  No problem with type E, but J looked
like a hockey stick (not bad) and T was the lowercase t that is often seen,
but for type K I needed to spell out CAy.  I will admit this really looks
stupid, but what is the alternative?

Do you know where TI has published the character set they came up with?  I
would really like to see it.  Please let me know if a URL might be available
for the set.  Thanks!

Lou

1998\07\31@103220 by Timothy D. Gray

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Why not just get 11 segment displays? they have the standard 7 segments
but include 4 more segments to make up the slanted lines.
Jameco,digikey,etc... carry them


On Fri, 31 Jul 1998, Lou Calkins wrote:

{Quote hidden}


'Upper and Lower Case 7 Seg Characters'
1998\08\02@232930 by myke predko
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Lou Calkins wrote:

>There are some inconsistancies here.  You say that the S needs to be
>different from the numeral 5, but yet the G in the first example uses the
>same segments as the numeral 6 (and your O uses the same segments as the
>numeral 0).  Why not let the S be the same segments as the 5?  Unless you
>are displaying amateur radio call signs, there probably would not be a problem.

Sorry, "G" should be:

_
|
|_|

>I just finished a project where I needed to have a number representing
>seconds displayed.  I used a space and S (same as 5) at the end, and I did
>not have room for SEC.  I will admit it looks a little wierd when displaying
>5 seconds (looks like 5 5).  The space helps it to looks a little better, so
>context does help.

Does anybody know of any studies done on these types of character sets and
how good the eye/brain is at decoding them?  I'm remembering back some time
ago on the Stamp list where a number of people only wrote in upper case
"because studies had shown this was best".

What it boiled down to was that upper case was the simplest for the early
electro-mechanical teletypes to display.

I agree that the brain can be startlingly good in recognizing patterns in
different unrelated characters (look at many people's tag lines), but I
wonder how good they are here.

>The most difficult one I had to do was a project with thermocouples where I
>needed to show types J, K, T and E.  No problem with type E, but J looked
>like a hockey stick (not bad) and T was the lowercase t that is often seen,
>but for type K I needed to spell out CAy.  I will admit this really looks
>stupid, but what is the alternative?

"K", in the TI 7 Segment Character Set is:

|_|
|

>Do you know where TI has published the character set they came up with?  I
>would really like to see it.  Please let me know if a URL might be available
>for the set.  Thanks!

I have a Radio Shack book "Introduction and Principles of Digital
Electronics" which has a copyright date of 1979 that I bought 'way back
when.  Sorry, this is the only reference I have for this character set.  The
book is a step-by-step explanation of digital electronics using the example
of building a calculator.

There isn't an ISBN in the book either, the Radio Shack catalog number seems
to be (the cover is torn) SP-336.

I'm saying that the character set's originator is "TI", because that's who
the copyright holder is identified on the back page.

myke

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