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LED Sign & Display Specialists

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Digital call lorry forward boards installed at Felixstowe Port

Last month the Messagemaker team configured and installed digital signage boards at Felixstowe Port for a call lorry forward system in order to aid the flow of vehicles into the port and here are the results:





If you would like more information on the solutions from Messagemaker, contact the team today online at

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MD Vision signs shirt sponsorship deal with Chesterfield FC

MD Vision, the giant advertising and sport screens division of Messagemaker, has signed a long term shirt sponsor deal with Chesterfield FC, strengthening the partnership already established with the club.

The MD Vision logo, which will appear on back of shirt for the first game of the League One season against Barnsley, comes after becoming the official digital partner of the football club earlier in the year with the installation of a giant screen.

Speaking at the official launch, Tony Ford, head of commercial at MD Vision, gave his reaction to the news, saying: “We’re very excited about signing a five-year sponsorship agreement with Chesterfield Football Club We were introduced to the club through the sale of the big video screen here and we’ve enjoyed the relationship over the last six months so much that we’ve decided to make it a much longer one.

Although we’re based a long way away in Redhill in Surrey we’re really excited and of course it means there is a whole new bunch of Spireites supporters in Redhill!”

More information on MD Vision’s giant screens can be found at The new look website will be launched soon, so watch this space.

The club, who are looking to improve on last season’s finish, will start the season this Saturday 8th August at the Proact Stadium. More information on the club can be found at

MD Vision


Head of commercial Tony Ford (far left) and financial director David Dring (far right) from MD Vision with Chesterfield player Dan Gardner (second from left) and the club’s head of commercial & marketing, Kevin Fitzgerald.

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Chesterfield FC -the Big Advertising Screen Photo Story

chesterfield FC big video screen

The 5 year deal is signed – 25th October 2015

messagemaker and Chris Turner Chesterfield FC's CEO

Former Sunderland and Manchester United goalkeeper Chris Turner, now CEO of Chesterfield Football Club signed the deal which was organised by Kevin Fitzgerald of Chesterfield.

 November – PR Campaign begins

 large video screen for chesterfield FC      large LED video screen for chesterfield FC


The best location is chosen (NE corner)

NE corner is chosen for Chesterfields video screen     NE corner is chosen for Chesterfields advertising screen

The North East Corner was selected as the best vantage point for the majority of the supporters – it is envisaged another screen in the opposite corner will be added next year.

the best location is chosen at Chesterfield FC

  Target Date – Boxing day match v Peterborough United

chesterfield FC v Peterborough United

December 8th – the foundation work commences

foundation work at chesterfield FC  preparation work for large advertising screen  LED screen ground works at Chesterfield FC

The groundworks took seven days to work round the recently new foundations for the floodlights and installed 2.5 tons of steelwork and another 2 tons of fast drying concrete. This job can take up to 2 weeks normally before the steel frame can be installed.

Chesterfield FC – the frame installation

led screen frame installation   led screen frame installation    Picture20

Over 300m of fibre optic cable is installed under the stadium to connect the screen control centre to the big screen and cameras.

Regular Supporter progress updates on CFC Twitter

Picture18   Picture16   Picture17

Chesterfield FC – the big frame

Picture15  Picture14  Picture13

The frame was installed over 2 days and includes 2 working gantry’s at the rear for maintenance. The frame supports a lightweight screen weighing just over 600 kg.

Chesterfield FC – 21st December

Picture12  advertising opportunity at chesterfield FC  Picture10

 Chesterfield FC – 26th December



Read more about how big advertising screens can transform your business  or contact for more information.




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Big Advertising Screens – how they can transform your business

big advertising screensBig Advertising Screens and how they can make you money

The drive into Central London on the A4 after Chiswick has changed forever. In fact the drive into most cities has, and will continue to change over the next 3 years because of the “Rise of the Big Advertising Screens”.

With this ever changing digital screen landscape in the big cities, it is obvious that Councils are relaxing their former resistance and objections to this new and exciting advertising  phenomenon. As the saying goes – if something moves, it gets noticed.

The “outdoor poster” giants such as JC Decaux and Ocean are rapidly replacing their traditional static sites with high quality digital screens for a very good reason…they make considerably more money. To give you an idea – a main digital poster site in the Talgarth Road (before Cromwell Road), London generated over £750k in revenue last year while a screen in a Yorkshire city achieved in excess of £250k.

Digital outdoor screens (powered by LED lights) have gone through the same changes domestic televisions have in a number of ways. planning permission for LED screensRemember when the first 42″ flat screens first came out in the 1990′s? They were selling at £4000 each. Today you can buy a far superior, slimmer, higher quality screen of the same size for £350 from any supermarket.

China now produce big screens for a quarter of the cost that they did 5 years ago and like the home TV – the quality is getting better and better. This HD factor is more appealing to advertisers who are now increasingly booking digital space as opposed to traditional posters, newspapers, magazines, radio and TV.

Outdoor advertising spend in the UK (£250m pa*) is currently 75% static poster sales and 25% digital. According to WPP’s outdoor media agency, digital outdoor spend will be 55% by 2017…just 2 years time. This is why the big players are gearing up to turn those prime sites into eye-catching and (more importantly) eye-attracting display boards.

Enough of the statistics for now, what we want to explain is how we believe we can help your business become a part of,  and take advantageLED big adveritsing screens of this specific advertising medium without having to compete head to head with the current big outdoor site owners.

We currently work with sports stadiums, retail centres, stores and shopping malls, commercial property and land owners.

We will explain how we can bring you the technology (hardware, software and creative tools) and most importantly, advertisers to give you both a media platform and a revenue making location with a potentially quick ROI. We will consider a Joint Venture programme and help in every aspect including Council planning (which is a key factor), projecting and co-management for the entire contractual relationship, should you wish.

 Ten Big Benefits to Big Advertising Screens:

1. Six different advertisers can be shown each minute

2. Mild animation draws the eye (think of digital perimeter boards at football matches)

3. Advertisers are increasingly turning to this medium – 2nd biggest grower in media revenue after internet advertising.

4. Advertising can be made affordable for local businesses (newspaper advertising is dying)

5. Advertisers can choose their preferred slots (ie drive time, early evening etc)

6. Community messages can be broadcast (severe weather warnings, missing child alerts)

7. Advertisers can change their messages and have the changes displayed within minutes

8. Breaking news alerts can be displayed as can social media interaction

9. Advertisers can book slots months in advance which are pre programmed in

10. Environmentally more friendly – no more paper being discarded every fortnight

* Campaign Magazine.      WPP’s outdoor specialist is Kinetic Worldwide.


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High Definition big LED screens at incredible resolutions

High Definition big LED screens Check out the image in the picture of this high definition big LED screen.  It shows an incredible curved 1.7 x 6.1M high resolution to be used in Google offices as a big reception display.    I know the image looks mocked up – it isn’t, that’s a real image on a real screen.  The 1.7mm pitch delivers an overall resolution with around 3 x more pixels than HDTV.  It looks fantastic in the flesh and runs content from a 16 bit video scaler and controller.


There’s full image blending from about 3M viewing distance and there’s really no other way of getting a curved, low profile seamless screen of this brightness (up to 1500 cd / sq M).  There are over 1 million LED’s per square metre in the screen.


Yes,  technology has moved on yet again and this is part of a new generation of indoor high definition screens.  There are some challenges in producing screens – the fabrication has to be spot on to avoid mismatched pixels or visible ‘tile lines’.  The LED’s need to be driven and cooled very carefully to give a long reliable life.


Naturally there’s a price to pay. The term ‘Price on Application’ in any price list is a clear indicator that this is technology for the serious buyer or specifier wanting the very best quality image they can get!


LED has always been a great way of getting a high impact indoor big screen.  With the advantages of thin form factor, high brightness, flexible screen size and ratio – and even the ability to conform to shapes, curves or corners (within reason!).


The classic criticism of LED is the comparatively low resolution – the tradeoff for all those benefits.  But with the availability of pixel pitches like this 1.7mm that is becoming less of an issue and it can deliver stunning results.
Those of you with experience of buying screens will know that it’s not all as simple as that though.  You could find several makers offering ultra high resolution LED, down to 1mm pixel pitch.  But if you’re buying (and you’ll be spending a few quid) then you should check out in detail what is being offered.  In particular look for somebody with High Res screens working out in the field, talk to existing users and ask pointed questions about the LED specification used and the cooling features incorporated – which become really important at these resolutions.


‘Standard’ LED specifications for Indoor LED resolution have moved on considerably in the past few years.  I can remember clients being delighted with 10mm pitch LED not so many years ago.  Then it went to 6mm,  and now I guess a ‘standard’ would be 4mm.  But of course it all depends on your application, screen size, viewing distance and budget.


Projects like this don’t happen every day.  But if there’s a client or project sat in your inbox that could use this, talk to us.  We’ll be happy to help. Call 0800 170 7780 or visit .


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Planning Permission for LED screens

planning permission for LED screensPlanning Permission for LED Screens

Thinking about an LED sign but worried about planning permission?

Messagemaker has produced a brief guide to the areas you need to consider about planning permission for LED screens…

LED is certainly the sign of choice if you want to create an eye-catching, attractive and versatile display. However particularly for illuminated signs outside, planning permission is needed. In our Planning Permissions Guidelines we provide an overview of the key areas to think about if you are looking at an LED sign for a range of purposes – be it advertising, customer information, entertainment, safety, or any other situation where you need to get your message across in lights.

Our guide covers the main issues that worry planners, such as:

  • Acceptable brightness levels
  • The importance of automatic brightness control
  • How to assess an LED quote
  • Factors to consider for night use
  • The different uses of variable message signs
  • Frequency of message rotation

For more detailed expert advice on your LED sign or screen project, let Messagemaker be your trusted partner for information and guidance. We have over 20 years’ experience in LED displays and a track record of thousands of LED installations.

Here’s our advice on the areas you need to consider…
Any sign to be located inside premises or in a shop window are less restricted in use than outside. A reading of the sign guidelines indicates that a more than 1 metre back from the window and not excessively bright is treated as a normal accepted illuminated window. Plenty of clients run screens in windows, some closer than 1 metre and so this is plainly accepted but you should check with planners on this issue.

For any illuminated signs outside, planning permission is needed, as there are two areas that worry planners. One is excessive
brightness, the other is movement or distraction, particularly if by a road.


For the brightness issue, most planning authorities will use a measure of brightness based on illuminated sign lightboxes as a standard –
this might be a figure of 200/500 Nit or candela per square metre. Or they may have an equivalent figure in Lumens. When an LED sign is fitted in that application it MUST have automatic brightness control fitted and enabled (all our signs have this).

What catches most people out on brightness is that an LED sign maker would quote; let’s say a brightness of 6000 Nit candela per square metre (that’s based on all LEDs on, full brightness). Plainly that is way above the level the authority would accept for light boxes, so a simple reading of those numbers means that an LED can’t be used. But the local authority lightbox brightness level is designed to make sure that the sign is not too bright at night. And if an LED is used at night, two factors come into play:

• First, the automatic brightness sensor will turn the display down to 2-­‐4% of its maximum brightness.

•Second, almost any image, and particularly text, will only be illuminating about 60% of the LEDs.

So the local authority brightness measures are met properly, you must have a look at the figures more carefully. And you must make sure auto brightness is enabled.


For the second element, movement or distraction, any variable message sign can be used in one of 3 modes:

1. Fixed page, whereby the display shows fixed data, but is variable (like motorway signs). So a message might change, but would only change let’s say once every 6 – 8 seconds. few minutes, or a few times a day. In our opinion any LED sign going where there is a planning permission for illuminated signage would be acceptable for use as a variable message sign. There should be a debate with planners over how frequently the message is changed.

2. Scrolling text, or fixed page changing every few seconds, perhaps with fancy effects. Here there is more distraction potential and authorities can range in response. This is similar to the changing large format displays that show on sides of buildings. It is the movement or rapid changing of data which is the element they don’t like.

3. Full graphics or video – except for Piccadilly Circus, very rarely used or approved.

Of course the actual hardware we supply is capable of all three uses. So it’s just a question of getting acceptance for the use you
want. The easy way in is to put the displays in and use them as variable message signs. This should meet the brightness requirement. There may be a discussion over how frequently the message can change (can be seconds, minutes, hours). The standard one used in digital advertising is 8 seconds.

Once installed, then you can program the display as you wish, but if you wish to change the use then liaise
with your local planner. A common­‐sense approach is required, for instance a large sign in a residential or historic area or a known accident black spot shouldn’t be run in either a completely whizz-bang way with loads of movement or flashing, or in a more sympathetic variable message way.

Messagemaker has over 20 years experience in LED screens and a track record of thousands of LED installations. For more advice and guidance on your LED screen project please contact us on Tel 01737 774738 or visit www.messagemaker

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What Communication Options are there for Programmable LED Signs?

programmable led signs and rate boardsTo communicate with our programmable  LED Signs we have a number of options. Some use a keypad, others PC software. In general terms PC software is easier to use once set up because you can control one or a number of signs quickly and easily. Not all displays have all the options below. If in doubt discuss your application with a Messagemaker Engineer.

Pluginkey board
A hand held keypad plugs into a port on the display. Text is entered from the keypad. Once text is entered the keypad can be removed. Advantage is simplicity of operation. Disadvantage is that it’s quite time consuming and you need to plug in the keyboard (can you reach it easily?). Not normally available on multiline signs because programming is difficult. PC control is best for frequently hanging messages.

Infrared keypad
Very similar to above except that infra red communications mean no wired connection is needed. Simply aim the IR keypad up to 15M away at the display. Advantages are wireless connection, disadvantages that you can’t always use it on outdoor signs or window applications. Standard on some displays but extra on others. The keypad can be fiddly to operate.

Hardwiredusing/PCsoftwareover/RS232or/RS485 communications
This uses a data cable daisy chained through the building or outside and connecting every sign to each other. It is the safest and most secureProgrammable LED  signs and display boards way of transmitting data. Even if the computer network is down you can still successfully transmit. If the cabling has to be extensive it can be quite time consuming to lay. Cabling usually runs in the ceiling or floor cavity. Either your own staff or preferred subcontractor can lay cabling to our specification. For distances under 30Metres RS232 can be used. For larger distances or most multi addressed systems RS485 communications are preferred and if needed a low cost RS485 line driver (£83) should be fitted. Makingthedisplayanetworkpointwithit’sownTCP/IPaddress On most displays it is possible to incorporate a network box inside or outside the sign to create a network point at the display. On many signs this is standard. On others it adds £160 to the cost.
GSM/ GPRS / 3G/4G DataModemusing PC software
Subject to adequate reception (90% of the population is covered) this is fairly straightforward. The radio modems simply takes the place of the phone modem. They use a digital data transmission network are fully approved and will not interfere with other radio transmissions. Each modem plus aerial costs approximately £275. You would need one with each sign you wished to send to. In addition there is a monthly subscription fee to the network dependent on your anticipated traffic of £5-15 a month typically. You must specify a DATA ENABLED Sim card to use with this.
Short & long distance radio communications
This uses licence exempt radio modems to achieve wireless transmission of communications. Very useful if cabling is impractical. Two versions are available. Short distance radio modems cost £75 each and work up to 100M away in clear line-of-sight transmission applications. More powerful versions work up to 3km away in buildings, up to 20km away outdoors and cost £425 each.

SMS text Messaging
Useful for basic messaging and frequent updating. Security coding ensures accidental or malicious content cannot be displayed. Cost is £275 for GSM Modem, excluding SIM card which client is to provide. Useful on single line displays or smaller multiline displays.

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The Need for Speed…Awareness! Vehicle Activated Speed Signs

vehicle activated speed signsVehicle-activated speed signs are an economical and effective tool to modify driver behaviour. With a wide range of signs available, manufactured in the UK, Messagemaker is your perfect partner for keeping your local area safer and moving within the speed limits.


Activated by internally-mounted approved radar systems, the signs provide immediate feedback to motorists about their speed and can display ‘Slow Down” for over-speed events and “Thank You” in response to driver deceleration.


All our vehicle activated speed signs meet Highways Agency technical requirements, are easy to programme and feature the latest technology in a slimline, lockable casing. White and red LEDs provide ultra-bright daylight-viewable displays with automatic brightness control included as standard.

 Vehicle activated speed signs options include:

  • Speeds: 5, 10, 15, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60MPH (KPH optional)
  • Symbols / Warnings: Crossroads, curve, queue, or custom message
  • Sizes & Shapes: 300mm, 450mm, 600mm roundels, or 450mm, 600mm, 750mm, 900mm, 1200mm triangles with symbol
  • Standard Dimensions: From 500w x 500h up to 1380w x 1420h

A heavy duty enclosure with inclusive self-test function ensures reliability and longevity in use. Displays can be mounted on street light columns or powered by optional solar panels.


Messagemaker Vehicle Activated Speed Signs are priced competitively, starting at less than £1000 per sign. For more information please call 01737 774738 or visit our dedicated Traffic Signs website.

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A new range of traffic information displays, to help eliminate and ease traffic build-ups is now available from LED traffic signage specialists Messagemaker. Built using the latest technology, the displays are designed to keep motorists informed of possible delays ahead on their chosen route in urban and suburban areas.

The displays provide a fast and easy means of communication along specific routes or can be linked to provide information about the local area road network. In addition, the signs can provide a means of giving forward notice to the local community about disruptions arising from scheduled works or forthcoming events.

Read More about LED traffic information displays