Halfway Between Inspiration And Engineering

We see a lot of hacks where the path to success is pretty obvious, if maybe strewn with all sorts of complications, land-mines, and time-sinks. Then we get other hacks that are just totally out-of-the-box. Maybe the work itself isn’t so impressive, or even “correct” by engineering standards, but the inner idea that’s so crazy it just might work shines through.

This week, for instance, we saw an adaptive backlight LED TV modification that no engineer would ever design. Whether it was just the easiest way out, or used up parts on hand, [Mousa] cracked the problem of assigning brightnesses to the LED backlights by taking a tiny screen, playing the same movie on it, pointing it at an array of light sensors, and driving the LEDs inside his big TV off of that. No image processing, no computation, just light hitting LDRs. It’s mad, and it involves many, many wires, but it gets the job done.

Similarly, we saw an answer to the wet-3D-filament problem that’s as simple as it could possibly be: basically a tube with heated, dry air running through it that the filament must pass through on it’s way to the hot end. We’ve seen plenty of engineered solutions to damp filament, ranging from an ounce of prevention in the form of various desiccant storage options, to a pound of cure – putting the spools in the oven to bake out. We’re sure that drying filament inline isn’t the right way to do it, but we’re glad to see it work. The idea is there when you need it.

Not that there’s anything wrong with the engineering mindset. Quite the contrary: most often taking things one reasonable step at a time, quantifying up all the unknowns, and thinking through the path of least resistance gets you to the finish line of your project faster. But we still have to admire the off-the-wall hacks, where the way that makes the most sense isn’t always the most beautiful way to go. It’s a good week on Hackaday when we get both types of projects in even doses.

7 thoughts on “Halfway Between Inspiration And Engineering

  1. “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

    I’m sure with tens of thousands of dollars in development costs these projects could be production quality and mass produceable. But for a hobby project, if it’s done and it works, and you learned some things along the way, that’s all you need.

  2. It is using two sets of LEDS. One for the small screen where all the LEDS are on all the time ,and another set for the Large screen that are turned on as required. This is not power efficient.

  3. I like the out of the box thinking here. Sure it isn’t the way I’d would make it, but on the other hand, I’d still prefer using a 555 to blink an LED instead of an arduino. The sentence “It’s mad, and it involves many, many wires, but it gets the job done”, mad me laugh since it made me realize that the same applies to any kind of modern display, every pixel is connected by a wire, in a matrix of some kind, but still there is a piece of wire to each pixel, very thin, not a tradional copper wire, but still. In the processor of our computer are many many many transistors all connected via “wires” it’s mind boggling if you’d think of the connections between parts that are required to make our world go round. A few more wires to connect an LED to an LED doesn’t impress me when I start to think about it. But it does make me smile. Keep thinking out of the box.

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