Build this Basketball Scoreboard for your Gym (Jan, 1933)

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Build this Basketball Scoreboard for your Gym

Spectators at your school or club basketball games will get a bigger kick out of the battle if they can keep an eye on this electric scoreboard, which tells at a glance how the game stands and how much time is left to play. Take the idea to your coach— he’ll welcome it.


THERE is a distinct advantage, from the spectators’ interest standpoint, In having a scoreboard controlled directly from the officials’ table, so that the official score and time left to play can instantly be flashed before the spectators as the game progresses.

The electric scoreboard described in this article is operated by means of a control box from the officials’ table and the score, and other information, is flashed on the board by means of sections of lamps, certain sections of lights in various combinations making up the required number to indicate the score, whatever it may be.

These sections of lights are shown and designated on the wiring diagram in Fig. 3, and are controlled by the toggle switches in the control box. “Minutes to play,” and “quarter” are indicated by illuminating corresponding numbers, which are painted, in white, on the back of frosted glass panels and not visible except when illuminated.

The drawing in Fig. 2 shows an installation of a complete scoreboard ready for use. The conduit containing the control wires leading from the scoreboard to the cut-out box is installed on the surface of the wall and enters the scoreboard case from the side. The method of installation, however, is optional and the conduit may enter from either side or back, and may be concealed in the wall if desired.

Two methods of connecting the flexible cable from the control box to the solid wires in the conduit may be used. If it is possible to install a storing cabinet so that the cable can be coiled up and together with the control box placed in the cabinet when not in use, the flexible cable conductors may be permanently connected to the solid conductors in the cut-out box.

This method was used in the installation shown in the photographs. If, however, it would be desirable to disconnect the control box from the scoreboard, due to lack of available convenient space for the storing cabinet, a cable connector as described in Fig. 1 must be used. This connector is described fully in the drawing. A piece of bakelite panel is supported in the cut-out box by means of two pieces of angle iron fastened to the top and bottom insides of the box by means of No. 6-32-1/2″ machine screws. Phone jacks, one for each of the forty conductors connected to a light, or light section in the scoreboard, are provided, and a binding screw with wing nut for the neutral.

Conductors Connect Through Cut-out Bar The conductors from the scoreboard are connected to the phone jacks and the binding screw on the back side of the bakelite panel and soldered. The front of each row of phone jacks is painted a different color for identification when making the connections.

Conductors 1 to 11 inclusive, are connected to the top row of jacks, beginning with No. 1 at the left end. Conductors 12 to 22 inclusive are connected to the second row, 23 to 33 are connected to the third row, 34 to 40 to the bottom row, and the neutral, No. 41, to the binding screw at lower right of panel.

The flexible conductors running from the connector to the control box are grouped and arranged to correspond to each row of jacks and bound together by means of two straps of leather riveted together between conductors. Each group is marked by painting the leather binding straps of a color to correspond to the color of the row of jacks on the panel to which the conductors in the group are to be connected.

The conductor on the left end of each group should also be marked. A phone cord tip is soldered to the end of each flexible conductor and a terminal lug, as shown in the drawing, to the neutral.

To make connections, the phone tips are simply inserted in their corresponding phone jacks and the lug on the neutral connected to the binding screw. A piece of leather strap with a harness hook is taped securely to the cable and the hook attached to the eye-bolt provided in the bottom of the cut-out box. The purpose of this strap is to support the cable and take up strain.

Construction of the Scoreboard Fig. 4 shows the construction of the scoreboard, which consists of a wooden outside case, completely lined with sheet metal, and a frosted glass window of two large panels, one for the score of each team, and two small panels, one for the time to play and the other for the quarter. The window is hinged to the case at the top so that it may be opened to replace burned lamps. The back of the window frame is also lined with sheet iron. Directly back of the frosted glass panels are the lights for forming the score numbers, and for illuminating the numbers indicating the time left to play and the quarter.

Each light section in the number panels, and also the single lights for indicating time and quarter, are shielded so that the light will not spread, and only that portion of the frosted glass directly in front of each lamp section is illuminated. These shields are fully illustrated in the drawing of Fig. 4. The shields may be riveted or soldered to the sheet metal receptacle panel. Notice also that ventilating holes are provided in the lamp section shields as shown.

The lamps, which are ten-watt sign-lighting lamps, are held in porcelain screw-ring receptacles. These receptacles are attached by making holes in the sheet metal mounting panel (See end view Fig. 4) and inserting the nipple of the receptacle from the back and screwing on the ring from the front.

The lights are connected in sections or groups as shown in the wiring diagram of Fig. 3. It is well to paint each conductor as suggested in the table on the wiring diagram so that they can be readily identified when the final connections are to he made. These colors, however, are merely suggestions, as any combinations may be used.

Lights Hook to Bakelite Terminal Panels A bakelite connection panel is provided between the score number panels and the time and quarter number panels. The conductors from the lights are connected to the back of the binding screws on the panel, which may be No. 6-32, one inch long, brass.

The conductors from the conduit leading to the control box are connected to the front of the panel. The conduit may enter the case from either side, or the back, but must enter on a level with the center of the connecting panel.

The letters of teams’ names are built up of wood strips 1″ wide and 1/4″thick and tacked to a 3/4″ background. The background and letters should be painted in contrasting colors.

The completed name plate is attached to the top of the case by means of four shelf brackets. The letters in “Minutes to Play” and “Quarter” are 2-3/4″ high and built up from strips 1/4″x 3/4″ and tacked to the window frame in the position shown in the drawing of Fig. 2.

To permit cool air to circulate through the ventilating holes provided in the shields and through parts of the case, two-inch holes are provided in the wood case as shown in the drawing of Fig. 4.

If the location of the scoreboard is such so that there is any possibility of the glass being struck by the ball, a guard must be provided. An ordinary wire window guard with an iron frame may be adapted for this purpose, as shown in the view in Fig. 5. The mesh holes of the wire should not be less than two inches.

The control box consists of a wooden box or case, entirely lined with sheet iron, which houses the control switch panel and the cable connections. The construction is fully described in the drawing of Fig. 5.

Small toggle switches, 3 ampere, 110 volts, are used for controlling the lights. From a study of the wiring diagram, it will be seen that by closing a switch, a certain light or a certain light section which it controls, will be illuminated. By closing the proper switches, any numeral may be formed by combining the proper light sections, or any of the lights illuminating the numerals in the panels “Time to Play” and “Quarter” may be switched on or off at will.

It will be noticed that the control switches are all installed on the bakelite panel so that they all turn “on” and “off” in the same direction. The operator can thus tell from the position of the switch levers whether a switch is on or off without having to glance at the scoreboard to see which light sections are illuminated. The light sections or panels are also outlined on the control box panel in white as shown in the drawing so that the light section or light operated by each particular switch is indicated. A 10-ampere tumbler switch is used for the main circuit switch.

Board Will Be Approved by Inspectors.

In the above description only the essential points of construction have been touched upon since the drawings and the notes thereon describe the other points of construction fully.

The construction of this scoreboard is such that it should meet with the approval of all electrical inspectors. The whole device is electrically “dead” when the service plug is disconnected, which should always be done when not in use. Standard electrical parts are used and the construction is rather simple, so that any handy man can make an attractive and efficient device. In operation, the device is entirely fool-proof, being as positive of action as the turning on and off of a light in one’s home.

  1. Mike says: October 22, 200811:08 pm

    “color code makes hook up easy”… isn’t this a black on white publication ?

  2. K!P says: October 23, 200811:14 am

    i think they mean you should use colors, because real wires dont say that neat as a diagram.

  3. vse says: October 23, 20084:15 pm

    Now this is really something I always wanted to resarch (honestly): when *did* someone (or do we even actually know her/his name?) come up with the idea of the seven segment display for numbers? I saw my first display like this in the early 70s and inmmediately wondered who had come up with this. Now this is the earliest mentioning of a display of this kind I have seen until now: 1933! Anybody know any even earlier record?

  4. Al Bear says: October 24, 20081:26 pm

    VSE, here you go. Read em’ and weep. The earliest 7 segment display was patented in 1908 —>…

    US Patent 974,943 by inventor, FW Wood illuminated announcement and display signal.

    I was floored when I saw this in 2005. Notice the number “4” was different than today? but 97% is modern! it sure was ahead of it’s time!

    Al Bear

  5. Feedgelmmig says: October 25, 20088:50 pm
  6. tim & lee says: January 30, 200911:30 am

    We are engineering students from Milton Keynes College doing a project. We need to a circuit diagram for 4 individual control panel’s, for 4 individual score boards, for 4 teams. The panel’s each need 4 buttons: +5 -5 +10 -10. Also the display for the scoring system is to be 7 segments of 100mm high, and 50mm wide. If you have this information please feel free to email it to me at [email protected] or [email protected]….

    Many thanks

    Tim and Lee

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