Screen Saver Defeater




A box that prevents your screen saver from activating when you place your mouse on it.

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Step 1: Parts Used

Here are the parts I used in this project
1. 5 inches of 0.01" 70 degree Nitinol wire
2. A 5 volt power supply .5 amps (this can be replaced with a usb cable)
3. A small wood box from a craft store
4. Two ring lugs
5. Two 3mm counter sink screws and nuts
6. Two plastic wire ties
7. Some 30 AWG hookup wire
8. Super glue
9. A small piece of balsa wood.
10. A 2K resistor and a TIP31 NPN Transistor
11. A 555 timer kit

Step 2: Assemble the Electronics

Assemble the 555 timer kit according to the instructions but do not install the relay that came with the kit. Install the 2K resistor and transistor like the schematic below shows.

Step 3: Make the Nitinol Actuator

1. Crimp a ring lug on each end of the Nitinol wire.
2. Wrap the wire around a nail or other metal rod and use a small piece of 30 awg wire to hold the Nitinol wire in place.
3. Heat the Nitinol wire in an open flame. This will reset the memory of the Nitinol and turn it into a spring shape.
4. Remove the Nitinol from the nail and solder a 6" piece of 30 awg wire to each ring lug

Step 4: Prepare the Wood Box

The box I bought has a fine wire mesh inlay on the lid

1. Cut a slot in the wire mesh so the screw on slider won't be obstructed.
2. Glue the head of a screw on the underside of the lid. This is were you will attach one end of the actuator.
3. Drill a small hole in the back of the box for big enough for the power cord to fit in.

Step 5: Make the Balsa Wood Slider

1. Cut a piece of balsa wood that fits loosely from front to back in the inlay and is about 1/2" shorter than the inlay side to side.
2. Glue the head of a screw to the back side of the wood slider. Make sure it lines up with the slot in the mesh inlay of the lid.

When the balsa wood slider is placed in the inlay make sure it slides it back and forth easily with very little resistance.

Step 6: Make the Return Spring

The return spring is made out of a used plastic wire tie.

1. Use a straight pin to poke a hole in each end of the wire tie.
2. Put a short piece of 30 awg wire through each end and make a loop big enough to fit over your screws.

Step 7: Assemble Lid Parts

1. Install the slider in the lid and attach the spring to the two screws.
2. Install the actuator on the two screws and bolt them down.

Step 8: Install the Timer Board

1. Install the timer board inside the box.
2. Feed the power cord through the hole you made in the back of the box and connect it to the timer board.
3. Attach a plastic wire tie to the power cord to prevent it from being pulled out of the box.

Step 9: Adjustments

1. Adjust the pulse pot on the timer board so power is applied to the actuator only long enough to fully move the slider to one side.
2. Adjust the pause pot so the slider only moves around every two minutes. I adjusted it faster for the video.
3. Shim the wood slider so it is even with the top of the box.

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    13 Discussions


    10 years ago on Introduction

    So what would your solution be? Keep in mind I can not install any software on the pc and the screen saver controls are disabled. I need data to be displayed on the screen for up to 2 hours at a time while I am about 4 feet away from the keyboard. So other than getting up and and moving the mouse every 10 min I am not sure what else to do.

    3 replies

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Sorry - I wasnt intending it as a jab at the project, but you must admit its very rube goldberg for a mouse-wiggler ;)

    Anyhow; without getting yourself in too much trouble - can you run the registry editor? (start+R >> regedit.exe >> run)
    If so, navigate to:
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop
    ScreenSaverIsSecure = 0
    ScreenSaveActive = 0
    ScreenSaveTimeOut = 30000 (number of seconds until it kicks in)
    Delete key 'SCRNSAVE.EXE' (name of the scr file that runs)

    OR ask your IT department to unlock the controls?


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    ooh ooh, OR, you could make a local html file - grab a mouse-mover javascript, and have it run in a minimized window; set to load on startup...granted it uses resources, but not much...just move the mouse 5 pixels every now and then...


    Or... you just make a batch file with a script in it to run what you said earlier with a command to edit the registry in cmd


    9 years ago on Introduction

    hi there:

     I have try to reset the initial memory shape without success. For how long do you have to heat up the Nitinol to have it change to the coil shape? I am using a Nitinol Wire .0150" OD, 90C Transition Temp. Does it have to turn red?
    it would be great if you could let me know


    1 reply

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    I heated mine in an open flame until it was glowing orange, it did not take very long because the wire is so thin.  You do have to keep it in the shape you want it to stay in while you are heating it and until it cools off.  Once it is cool to the touch it should have the new memory shape.

    Good Luck


    10 years ago on Introduction

    or u could put a high screensaver time like me ( I have it in 1000 mins ) lol is true


    10 years ago on Introduction

    This reminds me slightly of a video I saw many years ago when industrial robots were first developed. It showed a large robot arm whirling around, and then delicately poking a tiny hole in an egg with a pin. Why would you want to use a million dollar robot to poke a hole in an egg? To stop it cracking when you boil it, of course! (You could just turn the screen saver off ;¬) I've never used nitinol wire. What sort of current do you need to get it to the transition temperature? (I doubt if a USB port could supply it.)

    2 replies

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Hi Andy. Depending on where you work you have no way to disable the corporate screen saver on your PC. Not that I am suggesting this device be used to circumvent your companies IT department : ) The system draws 0.4 amps at 5 volts DC when heating up the wire. The spec for a PC usb port is 0.5 amps at 5 volts, although I have heard that some laptops may not met the usb spec.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Also, if you need to draw less current, use the usb to charge a largeish capacitor thru a resistor to keep the draw below a reasonable amount... then you'd have tonnes of juice ready for when you need to short the nitinol wire...


    10 years ago on Introduction

    This is totally brilliant. My co-workers and I were trying to figure out how to tackle this exact problem. My idea was to use either a mirror or an LED to reflect enough light back into the sensor of an optical mouse to 'bump' the mouse cursor enough to disengage the screen saver. I tried the simple trick of putting the mouse up flat against the screen (it's an LCD monitor) to see if the change in light levels when the screen goes black was enough to jog the cursor. It actually worked, but only about 25% of the time. If your mouse at work is optical, you might simply be able to rig the 555 circuit up to an LED to get it to blink slowly enough to bounce the cursor about. This was the idea I had added to the pile of projects that outweigh my 'garage time'.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    my favorite screen saver defeater goes something like. right click desktop click properties screen saver tab screen saver - none ... haha not always applicable tho, but neither is carrying a box around i suppose.