You’ve probably all seen them while driving– those blocky road-side electronic signs that inevitably tell you that your commute is now going to take you four hours instead of two. Because the message has to be said in 21 letters or less (some signs may vary)– the message has to be pretty succinct.
- “DETOUR NEXT EXIT”
- “CONSTRUCTION AHEAD”
- “ZOMBIES AHEAD”
- “ROAD CLOSED”
Cue record scratch! What??– ZOMBIES AHEAD. Not CATS AHEAD. Not SNOWBLOWERS AHEAD. The favorite phrase hackers love to punch into these signs invariably involve zombies (or some sexual act. Often times sexual acts with zombies).
Not exactly sure what that means for society, except that it seems we are obsessed with the impending apocalypse and probably most of the vandals don’t know how to spell apocalypse.
Tampering with these signs is completely illegal, a danger to the public and should not be done for any reason.
The fact that it has already been done for bogus apocalyptic reasons is bad enough. Now, when there is a REAL zombie apocalypse, people are going to happily drive right into a hungry mob of the undead. Way to go vandals!
Now that we’ve expounded on the reasons NOT to hack the signs, here’s how to do it in case there is a real apocalypse (which no one is going to believe because of the whole “crying wolf syndrome”– way to go vandals):
- The access panel on the sign is generally protected by a small lock, but often are left unprotected.
- Upon opening the access panel you can see the display electronics.
- A black control pad is attached by a curly cord, with a keyboard on the face.
- Programming is as simple as scrolling down the menu selection to “Instant Text”. Type whatever you want to display, Hit Enter to submit. You can now either throw it up on the sign by selecting “Run w/out save” or you can add more pages to it by selecting “Add page”
Sources: Gizmodo, Jalopnik, Techeblog
Gizmodo.com has published an updated version of these instructions for later model signs, as well as a PDF of the User Manual. It’s a few years old, but really, how many times are these e-Signs going to change?