The Eden Prairie Local News (EPLN) holiday kiosk continues to greet shoppers on the second-level walkway between AMC Theatres and the food court at Eden Prairie Center mall through Friday, Dec. 23.
Three banner displays on the holiday kiosk provide information about Eden Prairie’s volunteer-run, non-profit online community news service, which covers sports, education, schools, city government, and entertainment.
EPLN hopes the banners will draw community news enthusiasts, business owners and potential volunteers to the kiosk. The kiosk has EPLN brochures available that provide information about opportunities to volunteer, advertise, donate, or subscribe.
The kiosk itself personifies the strength of volunteering and community giving.
The three banners were designed, produced, and gifted by Bill Neumiller, a community volunteer from Minnetonka. The scrolling news panel is the work of Ben Hymans, chief technology officer at EPLN, who was looking for a personal project to support the organization.
Members of the EPLN Board of Directors, journalists, and volunteers have been staffing the kiosk and distributing EPLN literature, gifts for donors, and candy for visitors.
Hymans spent three weeks creating the scrolling news panel.
He explained how it works in simple terms. “We have an LED digital sign with a microcontroller connected to a Wi-Fi hotspot,” Hymans said. “Once an hour it makes a call out to the internet and retrieves the five most recent headlines from the eplocalnews.org website, updates the sign and scrolls those headlines across the sign.”
Hymans plans to use what he has learned to improve the design of future panels. He thinks that a wider panel would be more effective, and that chaining two or three of them together would allow mall shoppers to read more of the story, as currently only about half a sentence can be seen at a time.
He also plans to create a mobile version of the scrolling news panel for use at outdoor events. It will have a Wi-Fi hotspot, an internal battery, and be connected to a portable power pack for several hours of use.
Editor’s note: Writer Vijay B. Dixit is a member of the Eden Prairie Local News Board of Directors.
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