Barely HDMI Display Gets A Steampunk-Inspired Enclosure

It’s an interesting question: What does one do for a follow-up to building the world’s worst HDMI display? Simple — stick it in a cool steampunk-inspired case and call it a day.

That seems to have been [mitxela]’s solution, and please don’t take our assessment as a knock on either the original build or this follow-up. [mitxela] himself expresses a bit of wonder at the attention garnered by his “rather stupid project,” which used the I2C interface in an HDMI interface to drive a tiny monochrome OLED screen. Low refresh rate, poor resolution — it has everything you don’t want in a display, but was still a cool hack that deserved the attention it got.

The present work, which creates an enclosure for the dodgy display, is far heavier on metalworking than anything else, as the video below reveals. The display itself goes in a small box that’s machined from brass, while the HDMI plug gets a sturdy-looking brass housing that makes the more common molded plastic plug look unforgivably flimsy — hot glue notwithstanding. Connecting the two is a flexible stalk, allowing it to plug into a computer’s HDMI port and giving the user the flexibility to position the nearly useless display where it can be seen best.

But again, we may be too harsh in our judgment; while DOOM is basically unplayable on the tiny display, “Bad Apple!!” is quite watchable, especially when accompanied by [mitxela]’s servo-controlled MIDI music box. And since when has usability been a criterion for judging a hack’s coolness, anyway?

21 thoughts on “Barely HDMI Display Gets A Steampunk-Inspired Enclosure

  1. Can’t speak for anyone else, but my fascination here was how simple it was to access an I2C port on modern PC hardware and how easily he was able access it from software.
    The display itself may be a “rather stupid project,” but demonstrating a new (to me at least) simple IO channel is definitly something other than stupid.

    1. Lots of projects look rather “stupid.” Often times the nominal goal isn’t the real one. A display based on I2C over HDMI is not really practical. As a way to learn about I2C and HDMI, it’s a good learning tool.

      Many a project with a “stupid” looking goal was in fact carried out for the learning experience or to try out new techniques with the end product being a side effect rather than the goal.

      1. One of the things it demonstrates to me, as an electrical and computer engineering student, is the actual utility of all that ‘Arduino’ stuff that we start out with. Sometimes I’ll attend some CS class and learn about superscalar architectures or ridiculously fast network technologies, and all of those low-level embedded systems start to seem like toys. It’s refreshing to be reminded that practically everything is actually built on top of this stuff.

      1. Well, that’s not the point. The point is to do something silly like this by using just hdmi port and cheap parts, something which is still small and self contained (feeding off hdmi 5v/50mA power pin)

        Of course you could use usb port instead and then take e.g. raspberry pico or even repurpose ~$3 stlinkv2/daplink dongle based on stm32 to have some sort of usb to spi lcd functionality.

  2. The form factor is somewhat appealing, I wonder what the best horrible display is that you can do. Something more like a 3″ or 4″ screen on a posable “gooseneck” ? ….. I mean yeah you can prolly get a heavier duty gooseneck and put a 12″ panel on there, but in the limits of hanging it off a port and not breaking it first time you let go.

    1. Hmm. Maybe a DVI port. I bet there are some clever ways you can abuse one of those – maybe get the video card to display an image that ends up outputting something SPI-ish on one of the pins.

    1. I mean, not many HDMI displays actually use the I2C/DDC pin – and when they do, it’s usually just used for external brightness and volume control. So in theory, this is possible.

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