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Sign of the Times

This gas station in Burtonsville, MD on Route 198 just west of Rt.29 is one of the first gas stations in the Laurel, MD area to recently install electronically changeable gas price signs -- at ground level -- other than the very tall signs usually seen along the interstate where changing the signs mechanically would require dangerous climbing.

I'm told that there is another electronic sign at the Frederick, MD FREE STATE gas station, but that it didn't working very well when first installed.

Given the time it would have taken FREE STATE to decide to switch to new signs for its stations and design, manufacture and install them, the appearance of electronically changeable signs does not seem to be a direct consequence of the recent frequently changing gas prices due to gas shortages resulting from hurricane Katrina and Rita. But now it will certainly be more convenient to change prices than before.

It is interesting that the time-honored "9/10" cent, which is permanently painted on most gas price signs, is now also electronically changeable. Can "1/10" or "2/10" or even "1/5" cent gas prices be in our future?

For those interested in the technology, the numerals seem to be low power LEDs on a single-digit-at-a-time scan, as revealed by this photo taken at 1/1000 sec shutter speed to freeze the scan.