Sunday, December 21, 2014

Game Gear LED mod: Part III

So I finally got around to trying out what I hoped would be the ideal solution for replacing the CFL with LEDs in my Game Gear: using an opaque white straw as a diffuser tube for the two side-mounted LEDs.

The outcome was unsatisfactory.

If you recall, I had previously tried a frosted "clear" straw, with very small (if any) improvement over the exposed side-mounted LEDs. I had hoped that an opaque white straw would make the lighting more even across the screen and, by filtering the light through the white plastic, might also mimic the white CFL coloring more.

My theory actually did bear out, to some degree. The "hot spots" on the side of the screen near the bulbs were much diffused, and the coloring on the screen seemed more closely matched to that of a "stock" Game Gear. But the screen was dim. I found I was caught between a rock and a hard place, where either I could have a) the color and lighting to be somewhat natural, but the screen would be really dim and you'd have to hold the system at a 45 degree angle, or b) the screen would be *almost* bright enough (it never quite reached the appealing luminance of my good condition original system) but would be utterly washed out.

I didn't even bother taking pictures - it just wasn't worth it. My conclusion is that the LEDs couldn't come anywhere near reproducing the CFL lighting when filtered through an opaque white straw.

Someone suggested carefully using the original glass of the CFL bulb as the diffuser tube in the comments on one of my earlier posts. That would be super interesting to try, and may be the best bet in the end. But for the time being I would say the best implementation with two side-mounted white LEDs is with a frosted clear straw as a diffuser (per THIS POST)

Happy gaming!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Game Gear LED mod: Part II - straw man

If interested in upgrading your Game Gear to use battery-friendly LED in place of the hungry CFL, please see MY EARLIER POST on this topic.

The one major shortcoming I ran into was an overall dim-ish screen (despite the LEDs being very bright) and hot-spots at each edge where the LEDs sat. As a first pass to rectify the problem, I decided to insert a frosty-clear straw between the two LEDs - effectively replicating the shape/position of the original CFL bulb. The idea was that the straw would serve as a light diffuser, resulting in a more even backlighting of the screen (and allowing me to turn the brightness up more without washing the image out).

The results, however, were almost imperceptible. I am confident that it must TECHNICALLY function as a light diffuser. But clearly the straw I used, at least, was poorly suited and the effect was negligible.

Here's what I did, followed by some "before and after" shots.
1) I snatched a frosty clear straw from a food court. I needs roughly the same inner diameter as the outer diameter of the LEDs used.
straw is smooth on the inside, textured/frosted on the outside - sounds perfect, right?
2) I opened the Game Gear back up, and removed the reflective back plate with LEDs still attached
3) Measure the distance between ~halfway along each LED, and cut the straw to length. This length ensures you are able to a) flex the straw enough to pop it into place (without introducing kinks in the plastic) while b) ensuring it fits snugly enough to stay in place
4) Reassemble the Game Gear


But as mentioned above, the results were less than exciting. See the before and after shots below:


Note that it was tricky to get the lighting (room and backlight) the same for the two shots. But, the real take-home message is that the frosted clear straw basically had no perceivable effect.

Next up: I'm going to try to find an opaque white straw with a very glossy inside. This will probably require the light level to be turned up more, but hopefully will be a more effective diffuser...