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Author Topic: EGGCRATE READOUTS  (Read 19852 times)

76GMC

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« on: February 07, 2004, 12:09:31 PM »
Hi Y'all

I wouldn't think they'd be hard to make/operate; at least no more so than a scoreboard you'd see in a school gym.  Given TPIR has them worked into various PGs, couldn't they all be controlled by the same console/device?

The one difficult setup I could think of would be classic PYL: 6-digit score board, and 3 boxes for spin counts (two digits each), that's 12 characters per contestant (36 total).

Though each char. needs a lot of bulbs (25 total to display #s 0-9), it seems simple enough for anyone who's electrically or electronically inclined.

Or is it?  Any insights would be greatly appreciated, as this is one gs-related topic I haven't seen discussed, at least that I can remember.

Thanks in advance,
Rick

JamesVipond

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« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2004, 01:02:03 PM »
[quote name=\'76GMC\' date=\'Feb 7 2004, 12:09 PM\']I wouldn't think they'd be hard to make/operate; at least no more so than a scoreboard you'd see in a school gym.  Given TPIR has them worked into various PGs, couldn't they all be controlled by the same console/device?[/quote]

I suppose they could be, but light bulbs have a finite lifespan. Believe me, home viewers do notice when even one bulb in a score display is burned out.

Quote
The one difficult setup I could think of would be classic PYL: 6-digit score board, and 3 boxes for spin counts (two digits each), that's 12 characters per contestant (36 total).

Though each char. needs a lot of bulbs (25 total to display #s 0-9), it seems simple enough for anyone who's electrically or electronically inclined.

Actually, it's 35 bulbs per character (5 by 7). As far as I know, the cost of light bulbs has almost made it the norm for game shows to abandon eggcrate and vane displays in favor of higher-resolution CRT or flat-panel screens. The Price Is Right is the only game show I know that still does it the old-fashioned way.
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Fedya

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« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2004, 02:31:16 PM »
[quote name=\'JamesVipond\' date=\'Feb 7 2004, 01:02 PM\'] Actually, it's 35 bulbs per character (5 by 7). As far as I know, the cost of light bulbs has almost made it the norm for game shows to abandon eggcrate and vane displays in favor of higher-resolution CRT or flat-panel screens. The Price Is Right is the only game show I know that still does it the old-fashioned way. [/quote]
 Could somebody enlighten me on exactly how vane displays work, and whether there are different types of vane displays?

I ask because a year ago, I was watching ESPN's coverage of one of the tennis tournaments, where the court had a scoreboard that looked like a series of vane displays.  In the middle of the match, the power went out, but because the weather was good and it was an outdoor match, play continued.  The vane displays didn't go dark; they simply remained at whatever they displayed at the time of the power outage.  I'm wondering whether the lines that make up the numbers in the vane displays aren't actually light bulbs.  (By the same token, if the power were to go out in the old Family Feud studio during Fast Money, would the display go dark?)

Or am I getting vane displays mixed up with something else?  The displays used in the Clark $25K and $100K Pyramids are different from the TPiR Dice Game displays or today's Cien Mexicanos Dijeron displays, although both use straight lines for the numbers unlike the eggcrate displays.
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Adam Nedeff

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« Reply #3 on: February 07, 2004, 03:19:51 PM »
Quote
(By the same token, if the power were to go out in the old Family Feud studio during Fast Money, would the display go dark?)

Actually, I seem to recall reading that the Family Feud boards weren't actually light bulbs. They were some kind of little pieces of reflective material that that actually flipped back and forth between yellow and black. Since they weren't actually lights, yeah, the board would go dark. Someone probably knows more about this than me though.

clemon79

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« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2004, 03:22:22 PM »
[quote name=\'Fedya\' date=\'Feb 7 2004, 12:31 PM\'] In the middle of the match, the power went out, but because the weather was good and it was an outdoor match, play continued.  The vane displays didn't go dark; they simply remained at whatever they displayed at the time of the power outage.  I'm wondering whether the lines that make up the numbers in the vane displays aren't actually light bulbs.  (By the same token, if the power were to go out in the old Family Feud studio during Fast Money, would the display go dark?)
 [/quote]
The display you are talking about is an electromechanical one, as is the Feud board and the Clark $25K/$100K Pyramid readouts.

The way the numerical ones work, each segment is a flat piece of plastic painted with a highly-reflective paint, usually florescent yellow or white. They are hooked up to electromagnets such that when a segment is needed to form a number (or not), a single pulse rotates the segment so that the surface is visible, or out of the way so that it isn't (at that time it's actually rotated 90 degrees so it's perpendicular to the surface of the readout).

In the case of the Ferranti-Packer Feud board, each "pixel" on the board is a small disc, painted on one side, black on the other. A pulse is sent to a "pixel" dependent on which side it needs to display to make a particular board element, be it a letter, number, or part of the big Feud logo. You see the same thing on a lot of city bus systems, and stadium marquees, and stuff like that.

These types of readouts are popular because they are a) durable, as you don't have to go replacing light bulbs, and b) energy-efficient, because the only electricity is used to change the state of the board...maintaining it, as you saw in that tennis match, takes nothing.
« Last Edit: February 07, 2004, 03:24:02 PM by clemon79 »
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BrandonFG

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« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2004, 03:23:30 PM »
[quote name=\'Adam Nedeff\' date=\'Feb 7 2004, 03:19 PM\'] Actually, I seem to recall reading that the Family Feud boards weren't actually light bulbs. They were some kind of little pieces of reflective material that that actually flipped back and forth between yellow and black. Since they weren't actually lights, yeah, the board would go dark. Someone probably knows more about this than me though. [/quote]
Maxene Fabe went into great detail in her book. IIRC, it's pretty much the same thing you'd see on the side of a bus, or on some road signs (the ones that alert you to road closings, etc.). I've driven on the highway at night, but was still able to see the signs fairly well, so I'm guessing it could be along the same lines? I'm guessing they're still somewhat visible in the dark?
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clemon79

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« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2004, 03:26:03 PM »
[quote name=\'fostergray82\' date=\'Feb 7 2004, 01:23 PM\'] I've driven on the highway at night, but was still able to see the signs fairly well, so I'm guessing it could be along the same lines? I'm guessing they're still somewhat visible in the dark? [/quote]
 In the Seattle area, a lot of those road signs are being replaced by LED matrices now, since they're so much brighter, but I have seen electromechanical versions of those as well, yes.
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Brandon Brooks

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« Reply #7 on: February 07, 2004, 03:53:11 PM »
[quote name=\'Fedya\' date=\'Feb 7 2004, 02:31 PM\']Could somebody enlighten me on exactly how vane displays work, and whether there are different types of vane displays?
[/quote]

Alrighty, this may be crude, but I'll give it a go.

There are two types that I know of: the flip, non-lit type, and the lit vane display.

Shows like Summers' Double Dare, Get the Picture, and the old big numbered display for TPIR's Check-Out used the non-lit flip type.  They are just a series of flat panel segments that will "flip-out" when current hits them.  

So let's say I am looking at a single-digit vane display with nothing showing.  The panels for each digit segment would be facing outward (except for the middle segment, which could face upwards or downwards), so the camera cannot see them.  Let's say I scored one point.  Current would be turned on to the upper right segment and the lower right segment, and both would flip out to face the camera, creating a '1'.  Pay attention to the color red.

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If I got two points, then this is where it gets fun.  The top, middle, and bottom segments would flip out to the camera.  So would the bottom left.  But the current would also be turned on to that lower right segment, flipping it back out of sight.

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Lit vane displays are much easier to explain.  They were seen in the Whoopi's Squares and the Jeopardy sushi bar set.  Lights turn on and off to create segments for digits.  So if you wanted to see the one, just turn on the upper right and the lower left segment lights.

If power went out on Dawson's or Combs' FF board, it would read the same since it wasn't lit.

Brandon Brooks
« Last Edit: February 07, 2004, 06:25:58 PM by Brandon Brooks »
Brandon Brooks

daveromanjr

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« Reply #8 on: February 07, 2004, 05:02:51 PM »
I noted on the Family Feud: ETS when they were showing a clip when Roseanne and Tom Arnold were on saying "We're on Family Feud to start a Family Feud."  You can hear the non-lit flip boards on the podiums flipping from "Family" to ">>Feud<<" quite loudly.

SRIV94

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« Reply #9 on: February 07, 2004, 05:41:12 PM »
[quote name=\'JamesVipond\' date=\'Feb 7 2004, 12:02 PM\'] Actually, it's 35 bulbs per character (5 by 7). As far as I know, the cost of light bulbs has almost made it the norm for game shows to abandon eggcrate and vane displays in favor of higher-resolution CRT or flat-panel screens. The Price Is Right is the only game show I know that still does it the old-fashioned way. [/quote]
 In principle, you're correct that it's a 5x7 grid.  However, I do recall seeing episodes of Perry CS (they used the same Eggcrate display for the Money Cards--the one with the open "4" rather than the closed "4") where you can actually see the unlit bulbs in the display--and there are some places within that display where there are gaps instead of where the bulbs would be.  In other words, one line of the seven may only have three bulbs instead of five (I can't recall the exact breakdown at this moment).

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dale_grass

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« Reply #10 on: February 07, 2004, 06:44:48 PM »
The Card Sharks readout only needed enough bulbs for the digits, $, and the word BUST, wo 3 or 4 weren't even installed.  Since the Feud board displays all sorts of text, all pixels were available.

adamjk

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« Reply #11 on: February 07, 2004, 07:04:47 PM »
Quote
The Price Is Right is the only game show I know that still does it the old-fashioned way.

The current version of Family Feud with Karn, also still uses the eggcrate displays.

cmjb13

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« Reply #12 on: February 07, 2004, 07:18:21 PM »
[quote name=\'JamesVipond\' date=\'Feb 7 2004, 01:02 PM\']The Price Is Right is the only game show I know that still does it the old-fashioned way.[/quote]
In something related, the one bid displays (as if it isn't obvious) are very old and fragile.

For those who haven't been to a taping, after the 4th taping day when the set is struck, the wiring connecting the one bid displays (controlled off-stage) is disconnected and moved in one piece. They place a cover on it and off it goes.

I once had a conversation with somebody from the CBS electronics department who works on Price who said those one bid displays were ancient.

The technology was there as late as 1989, Card Sharks, the last show to feature displays similar to the one bid displays.

Does 15 years seem ancient? Maybe if you can't make them anymore, but I'm sure parts are still available for them (albeit scarce)
Enjoy lots and lots of backstage TPIR photos and other fun stuff here. And yes, I did park in Syd Vinnedge's parking spot at CBS

BrandonFG

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« Reply #13 on: February 07, 2004, 07:52:45 PM »
[quote name=\'adamjk\' date=\'Feb 7 2004, 07:04 PM\']
Quote
The Price Is Right is the only game show I know that still does it the old-fashioned way.

The current version of Family Feud with Karn, also still uses the eggcrate displays. [/quote]
I think Shop Til You Drop still uses the vane displays.
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tvrandywest

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« Reply #14 on: February 07, 2004, 08:22:31 PM »
Here I am back in the black hole of time we lovingly refer to as "the Big Board". I just love the dialogue too much to keep away and do the things that are "more important" but less fun!  ;-)

As for the TPIR one-bids, the controller that feeds the 4 displays finally broke in the mid to late 1990s after about a quarter century of use. Like virtually all of the electronics and props on TPIR, and many other game shows, that unit was a home-brew custom-made one-of-a-kind from the CBS electronics shop. Indeed, the in-house geniuses replicated the unit from scratch. The new one has held up magnificently. I last spotted the old one-bid controller down in the bowels of TVCity. I can't help but think it deserves to be saved in a museum or collection, but more on that in a moment.

There are only about a handful of folks in all of LA who design and build the electronics for the current game shows. They're either at CBS or at a company started by a former CBS staffer, Vista Electronics. As a ne'er-do-well tinkerer at heart I love talking with these guys who can translate display and scorekeeping needs to either PC programs or the far more fascinating and quaint technology of switches, buttons, lock-outs, wires and lights. The reflective tape / light beam device that controls the "beep" sfx on the Showcase Showdown big wheel (discussed in another thread) is the perfect example of that kind of ingenuity.

And when it comes to the magic created by the dings, pings, bells, gongs, buzzers, and klaxons that first caught our fascination as kids, those original practical (as opposed to recordings) sfx devices also deserve a retirement home. Does anyone else remember the sfx hardware first used at TPIR? Among those goodies were the tugboat and train whistles, and that great "Squeeze Play" and "Safecrackers" creeking device that created the sound from the friction between wood and leather.

So much of that stuff is lost for the ages. Thanks to the retired techs (many from CBS) who are members, Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters has the best collection of practical sound effects devices I'm aware of, dating back to the "golden era". For fans of old radio, PPB has the assemblage of practical devices that created the sounds for accessing and opening Jack Benny's vault on his CBS show. It was a classic comedy bit used many times to big laughs. And yes, some of the goodies from the CBS game shows rest there as well.

The point? Zinfandel makes me nostalgic. Other than that, I'm not sure there is a point!   ;-)


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« Last Edit: February 07, 2004, 08:23:27 PM by tvrandywest »
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