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3D Print a Midcentury TV Yourself

TVs were probably one of the first appliances to appear in the mid-20th century that enterprising handymen in the house couldn't account for, with their tiny circuitry and mysterious transmissions. But 3D printing and DIY electronics kits like Raspberry Pi have made electronics a much more legible realm for hobbyists. A modern interpretation of the Teleavia Matrix is a beautiful result of the accessibility and fun brought about by this technology, but the creator, 3D designer David Choi, also added his own flair.

The Teleavia Matrix is based on the Teleavia Panoramic 111, a French television set released in 1957 that is still celebrated for its sleek design.

Choi designed the case in BobCAD and combined details from a few different models that he felt were aesthetically pleasing and useful, such as side arms for stability. The finished monitor can rotate up to 120º to adjust to your viewing angle. He also added helpful features for people who try to recreate the project, such as snap-in fasteners and various pegs and connectors.

The Panoramic 111 was capable of 819 lines, which is considered HD even today. But the DIY world hasn't yet found its answer to the highly miniaturized LEDs that power today's displays. Choi's response to this challenge was to incorporate flexible NeoPixel strips, which more closely resemble the giant LED boards used in Times Square and at sporting arenas, with 32 LEDs per meter. He created a 32×16 LED matrix screen by using two 16×8, flexible NeoPixel matrices that he divided into 8×8 matrices apiece. Here's how it looks.

The firmware behind manipulating the LEDs to flicker and flux as is needed for a real TV is called FadeCandy, which is controlled by a USB driver and the FadeCandy server.

"Without dithering, LED matrices look bright, bold, and boring. Dithering results in higher quality images for an LED matrix," Choi explained to 3DPrint.com. "Since we’re restricted to a fewer number of pixels, image quality drops, but dithering essentially helps smooth out the image colors for our eye, helping to reproduce the detail that would be lost otherwise."

Choi added a little pizzaz to his decidedly low-res display by adding a custom-cut mirror and two-way glass, which produces an "infinity" mirror effect that makes the image appear to float in space. Choi was seeking a time-warp effect with this surrealism; future makers will no doubt add to that.

David Choi | Teleavia Matrix

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