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...