# Can this sign be powered with batteries?

Hi everyone,

I’m not an electronics person and so I don’t really understand how all of this works so please be kind to me. Basically I’m making an installation and want to power a sign that will display some text. I need a sign that can run on batteries specifically. I’m wondering if this sign can run on batteries and if so, what kind/how many like 12 double A batteries etc. I don’t have a good understanding of how this all works so I just want to know if this sign can be powered by batteries? If so, how many and what kind, and for how long.

Thanks so much for your help,
Terri

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Hi Terri, Welcome to the forum!

I found on the hookup guide, that the 32x32 panels draw about 2A of current at full blast (all LEDs on), so you should consider a power supply that is happy to supply 2A constantly, but you can use a lower value to calculate how long it will last on a given battery.

If you give us some info on the sorts of things it will be displaying, how long it needs to run for, and how portable it needs to be, we can give you some power recommendations.

Keen to see your project on its feet!
-James

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Hi James,

Thanks for getting back to me. It just needs to display one sentence, “Live, Flarf, Love”. Sounds strange I know, its for a weird art gallery exhibition aha. I’m happy to buy two panels and connect them to fit the entire sentence. The gallery opening will only run for a few hours and even if it only lasted 30minutes to an hour that would be fine. I want to power it with potatoes instead of batteries so the run time will be iffy anyway. The sign wont be portable, I intend to hang it from the ceiling if it has hooks for hanging. Thanks for your help! I hope it can work, it just depends how much energy the signs will need.

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Hi Terri,

You might want to re-think this one, A potato can generate about 0.5V about 2mA of current (according to one person’s experiments). So you’d need about 10 banks of 1000 parallel wired potatoes in series to reach the required voltage and current to power this panel, not accounting the resistance and voltage losses of the long cables required, or the draw of the microcontroller that’d be controlling it.

I understand that the potatoes might be crucial to your project, but have you considered alternate display technologies or alternate power methods?

Keen to see what you have to say!
-James

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Holly Heck!! hahaha thats a lot of potatoes for a very little sign. Look I think I’ll have to leave the sign at this point and go for something that requires much less energy. Thanks for your advice and time Take care, Terri

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Hi Terri,

I think James has calculated your worst case power consumption figures, which is sensible to set an expectation on what is possible with any new project.
If you do some experiments and can see what voltage and currents you can source from potatoes do let us know and we can help you find a device that may be better suited to run with those levels, or use some power saving tricks to limit the potatoes needed.

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Thanks so much,
I’m doing some tests this week coming so will let you know if I decide to go further with the project. Thanks for all of your help

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