Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Mystery of Changeable Sign Letters

There are a few questions I am commonly asked about changeable letters.

  1. What thickness are my letters? The most common thickness is 030. Most signs you buy come with these thickness of letters. If you are able to put your letter in the top track and bow the letter and drop the changeable letter in the bottom track, it is 030 thickness. If your letters are 060 or 080 thickness, you are sliding your letters in from the side. If you have a flourescent letter black sign, the letter thickness is 4 mil. These letters are on a plastic cardboard material.
  2. What size letters do I need? The sign letter panels are often an inch or so longer than the actual letter on the panel. For instance in my experience, the most common size is "8 on 9". This mean an 8 inch letter on a 9 inch panel. (The panel is really closer to 8 15/16 inches in length.) If you are using a Swinger style sign, the letter panels are 4 inches tall. If you are buying letters for a portable roadside sign, the letters are likely 8" letters on a 9" panel. And, if a roadside sign, they are probably condensed font.
  3. What font are my letters? As stated above, condensed is the more common. If you choose a BOLD font, the changeable letter panels are a little wider. And, depending on the overall size of the sign, the sign letter row done in bold letters may have 2-3 panels LESS than a sign letter track done with CONDENSED letters. There are other fonts to choose from, but the most common are the BOLD and CONDENSED.
  4. What letters can I get to draw attention to my sign? A couple different directions to go here: 1) Purchase letters that are double the size of your original letters. (If you have 8" on 9" letters, purchase letters that will be 18 inch tall panels. ) This allows the same sign tracks to be used, but the letter panels span over one of the tracks entirely. The individual letters are quite a bit more in cost, but they are great for putting up the words "SALE" in big letters. Of course, the whole sign can't be big letters. The other letters could be the smaller type. 2) The most common letters are black with red numbers. A variety of color options are out there. In the case of the flourescent letters, they are quite a bit more expensive. However, if they get your sign noticed they are eventually going to give you a proper return.
  5. What if the characters I want don't come in my set of letters? I don't have a great answer for this, but I do have one.....electrical tape. If you can get access to some blank sheets of acrylic (or some sets of changeable letters may have some blanks), simply create the letter you want on the acrylic using the electrical tape. It may not hold up to real tight scrutiny, but it will allow you to get your message out therewithout cursing the guy who sold you the letters. ;-)

If there are any questions, either visit or contact me at

Sunday, May 6, 2007

What type of LED scrolling message sign can I put in my store window?

There are a few considerations. I will cover them in no particular order:

  1. Letter Size: If you use the assumption that 1 inch can be seen from 50 feet away, you should consider a 4 inch or taller LED scrolling message sign. In some cases, a 2 inch tall sign may be adequate. However, it is always safer to have a sign seen from farther away than necessary rather than not seen from the street.
  2. Brightness: The safest decision to make is going with a "semi-outdoor" sign. If you would choose an "indoor" LED scrolling message sign, it would not be seen very well outside. The indoor LED sign might be visible at night time, but the indoor LED sign will not compete with direct sunlight. Thus, the semi-outdoor scrolling LED message sign is the safest choice.
  3. Sign length: What is the size of the message that you want visible at one time? If you want to show "Sale Today" on your sign, a 36 inch or 48 inch long or maybe even a 24 inch LED sign will display your message without scrolling. If your message gets much longer than 10 digits, you will need to choose the 48" or larger scrolling message sign. Of course, most message boards will display your message, but scrolling will be necessary.
  4. Window dimensions: Make sure you measure the width of your windows. A big sign will not do you any good if you cannot install it where you want.
  5. Power: Typically, the LED signs come with a 10 foot or slightly longer power cord. Make sure you plan your installation so the power is easily available. And, extension cords are always an option.
  6. Programming the LED scrolling message sign: Most of the larger indoor style signs are programmable using a computer. The software comes with the LED sign, and the sign attaches to the computer and software using a serial cable. Some newer computers do not come with serial ports, so a USB cable adaptor is available. And, many of the smaller indoor signs also come with a remote. Both the computer and remote are good options for programming your LED scrolling message sign. If many messages are going to be programmed, it is best to use the computer. And, the remote can be used to change pregrammed messages OR to create new messages.
  7. Connecting your sign to your computer network: This is not an inexpensive option. But, if you choose to do this, the ethernet device will cost about $200.
  8. LED Sign Color: Color really comes down to preference. I would suggest red, but others may suggest other colors. The LED signs typically available are red, amber, blue, and multi-color (amber/red/green). Other colors area also available, visit my site to see other Indoor LED Single Line Scrolling Message signs or contact me,

Folding Sidewalk Sign, Quik Change or Swinger--Which one?

Well, it really depends on the application. I will list a few benefits and the winner of each category: (If you have other specific questions, please let me know.)

  • Portability: Either the Folding Sidewalk or the Quik Change. Both of these signs fold up easily. They could easily fit into a car (i.e. a realtor moving a sign) or they could be picked up and removed from the sidewalk for the night. But, if you are just taking the sign in for the night, the Tip 'n Roll sign is a very good choice.
  • Flexible/Versatile: Quik Change - The Quik Change SS-120 sign gives many options. If you want to print your own sign, the SS120 will work. If you want to have markers and design your sign, the SS-120 is still the answer. And, if want to put messages up on your sign, the SS-120 will still provide a solution. Basically, the SS-120 is a portable sign solution that provides a very flexible solution for all sidewalk sign options.
  • Popular: Swinger and Tip 'n roll - For convenience and ease of use, these signs are consistent top sellers.
  • Lit: Folding Sidewalk Sign (aka: Sandwich board sign or A-frame sign) This sign does come with a optional light kit. But, if a sidewalk sign is not your goal, the larger black signs with flourescent letters might also be an option.
  • Wind resistance: Folding Sidewalk Sign is the winner here. If ballasted, this is the winner. But, if staking your sign is an option, all of the signs will become much more wind resistant.
  • Value: Swinger - The Swinger is readily available from a variety of online sign suppliers, and it has been tested in the most effective way - many customers own them. And, they are a portable sign option that will continue to be available.

If any questions on portable signs or sidewalk signs, let me know what other help I can provide.