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UV Screen Comments Answered

Hi all,

I'd appreciate some feedback on my UV screen project. As a relatively new blog I have effectively zero traffic there, so I thought I'd ask for some feedback here. The goal of the project is to provide an easy way of converting a record player to a UV screen (as pictured). The idea is to replicate the appearance "Death calls the tune" project by Lab Binaer, although I'm avoiding using an arduino in an attempt to keep costs down. The ultimate goal is an instructable, but before that stage I hope to work a bit more on the available functionality (currently it will just write text to the screen, each phrase being written alternately in one of three positions). Here are some planned but as-yet unimplemented short term goals;
  • Investigate replacing the serial connection with V-USB
  • New modes (Bar graph output , Seismograph style output, Spiral text)
  • New stylus using SMD LEDs (currently uses 5mil)
  • Offload all settings to XML file
  • Slow rotor speed further
I'd be appreciative if you could offer ideas for new functionality, uses, modifications, any thoughts or comments.



Dear Andrew,

my name is Benjamin and i am one part of lab binaer. On the one hand it is a great honor for us to see that a fan of our project »Death Calls The Tune« tries to build his own light-printing record-player.

On the other hand we are a group of artists who make our living by having great ideas developing them and selling them to or clients. We ask you to respect our copyright and not to clone and to publish our project in such a direct way!

I hope you can understand our situation,

Hi Benjamin, Firstly, thanks for voicing your concerns publicly, I appreciate open discussion and honest discourse. Secondly, I can fully appreciate your concerns – I can see that as an arts group you need to fund yourselves and future works (...I really don’t want to harm your organisation in any way).

My first counterpoint (possibly the most contentious) is I do not see where the issue of copyright enters into the discussion; The “Death calls the tune” project is a combination of software and hardware. My implementation is undeniably based upon your idea, however, all circuit designs, software and firmware has been created by me as well as photographs and blog content. I acknowledge of course that my project is currently very close to yours in appearance and behaviour – however I do not think that the label “clone” is appropriate, it is my intention to produce a wider range of visual modes and functionality than your original design includes. I fully acknowledge that your idea of using a record player is innovative, but this would not fall under copyright as I am aware of it. I would also point out that you yourselves have reused an innovative idea, insofar as “Death Calls the Tune” is based upon previously showcased technology with regard to using glow paint to hold a persistent image, such as the “Ghost matrix” project.

My second counter point is that I have no intention of harming your organisation or your profits and I am willing to enter into a discussion on how to minimise the effect of continuing my project. My motivations are of the vein of innovation, recycling and hacking. It was not my intention to sell any of my work (further more I intend to release my software and designs open source).

My third counter point is that it is very unlikely that you will suffer a drop in custom because of my actions. Your idea is not hard to emulate from the perspective of a competitor (this may sound provocative, but please read on). I am not an electrical or mechanical engineer (I am a software developer) and yet I was able to complete the hardware side of things over a weekend (since I programmed the software myself the software side of things is irrelevant). If a competitor or customer was interested in making a clone they would not have to expend much effort in doing so...That this hasn’t happened suggests that your brand (Lab Binaer) is much stronger than you give credit for. More generally my target audience and your target market are entirely disparate, as far as I can see (mine being individual hackers, yours being installations and organisations). To argue that someone may use my work to encroach on your market is disingenuous, in that they could equally use your videos and documentation on the subject to replicate your project too (similar levels of technical competency would be required in either case).

Finally I suggest that this could actually constitute an additional revenue stream for you. My intention is to release (open source) all designs and plans, but with your brand strength I think that you could release kits (pre-flashed chips, unpopulated PCB and other components bundled with instructions) and be reasonably sure (given the popularity of your projects) that you would be able to find a market. This business model (open source, open design) has been used by Lady Ada and others to great success.


P.S. I’ll not make any software or design release until we have discussed the issue further, although I may make blog posts on my progress in implementing software and hardware.

Hi Everyone,

I got a further reply on my blog to this from Lab Binaer (LB). On the one hand I want to publish, but on the other I don't want to upset LB. LB hasn't really given any further rationalization nor have they addressed points raised by Kiteman, Kelseymh or myself. I made these points again on my blog, just to see if they would be willing to reason. They made a reference to lawyers which could be interpreted as a veiled threat (I'm not sure, I may have misinterpreted an assurance that they would definitely not use lawyers). Does anyone have any advice or wisdom to impart?


p.s. I replied to the following message from LB but it largely restates what we have said here (it's on the linked page if anyone is interested)...a copy of Lab Binaer's message follows;

Dear Drew, i am not a native speaker in English so maybe Copyright is not the right word for what i ment in my first statement?!

Anyway. Even though our project »Death Calls The Tune« is based on existing hard- and software the fact that makes an artwork out of it is the conception and the unique combination of everything! Also your point that it is easy to rebuild is no reason or allowance to do that… I think we both know a lot of innovative stuff which would be easy to copy but even so we would/should not do it .-) We also know about the possibilities of »Open Source« but we want to decide on our own when to publish one of our projects under this conditions!

But what is more important to me than discussing about every point is to tell you that we do not want to start an juristic discussion with you or furthermore hire a lawyer to explain our point of view – we are friendly peaceful people .-). We just want to ask you, not to copy (“currently very close to yours in appearance and behavior”) our idea and publish the results or the construction plans via the internet.

But once more we are very proud that you are fan of our project! Maybe you should have contacted us before you started your work and we could have started some kind of cooperation…

Maybe even this time i did not find the right words… But i am sure you know about »Creative Commons« (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/)?! We are discussing right know to publish our next projects under one of that licenses to show more clearly what i tried to explain to you.



Has the author breached any copyrights or patents?

Or are you simply objecting to somebody being inspired by your group's work?

If it is the former, then I suggest contacting the author through his blog and making an official request that he remove the item.

If it's the latter, then I hope that you can asure us that every piece of work your group produces is 100% original, and have not been inspired in any way by anything else that the artists have seen.

Such as record players...

Hi Kiteman,
They have contacted me by my blog as well (same message, as a comment on the relevant post). I don't think that the claim has any legal basis for several reasons.

To clarify my position; my project is based on what Lab Binaer's project looked like in the various videos of it based online. I have not copied any work or designs (All software, firmware, designs and designs on my blog are original and created by me, as are all images text, etc). Therefore the claim of copyright infringement is incorrect (I think).

They could feasably hold or apply for a patent for the display technology, however I don't think that will get very far because UV "ghost image" screens have obviously existed before they published. The only element that is patentable that I can see is the record player reuse aspect.

I am not a lawer by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm fairly sure that even if the hypothetical patent was granted, my activities would fall under "personal use" (UK/European patent law), and the purpose of my project is to make it easier for other people to implement it as I have, again personal use (i.e. single person, non-commercial).

Thanks for your input,

P.s. the other side of the issue (making Lab Binaer happier with the project) is of course open to discussion

That's what I was trying to point out, but with less legalese.

I'm not an artist myself, but I've helped in a number of art lessons at my school; I know that 99% of the time, the kids are taught how to create original artworks by being shown work by other artists and (to simplify enormously) told to do something like that.

Or television sets. Or tables. Or interactive video screens. Or published scientific writings.

It needs a video.


Capturing video is problematic, the first image is a frame from a video - as you can see it is very blurry. The latter image was taken by me stopping the rotation momentarily before capturing the image. Even at less than 33 RPM (closer to 20 at a guess) a point an shoot camera (with limited manual settings) simply cannot capture the effect without blurring. To the human eye it is very readable, largely I suspect because of the natural skipping reflex developed when we learn to read, allowing us to focus on- and follow- each word, even when it rotates.


Low light, low frame-rate / long exposure?
Yes tricky, but it needs to be seen to attract traffic doesn't it?

See what happens when illuminate it with bright red light.

Post a good instructable and you'll pick up views.


Hmm, I'm no photographer (cameraman?) but I'll give it a stab,

Thanks for the input,

My thinking was that your camera will use a shorter exposure, but you'd have enough contrast - I've never tried it...


Yeah It may well work (can't try until after Christmas) and it has the added bonus that I could filter the red channel computer side... I can't work out why video lacks the a manual mode like photography has.


Yes I'd though about filtering too.



Thanks Lemonie, I finally got a video by slowing the screen rotation right down and messing with the amount of ambiant light. It is very nearly readable in the video, unfortunately something strange happened inside you tube and (probably due to transcoding) the result is what it is. Still, it shows off the screen in motion which is a step forward :)

Yeah that's good - add a soundtrack for added interest (maybe vinyl- hiss, crackle & pop noises)?


I'm going to try a better video in a couple of days. In the mean time I'm going to replace the write medium (with a vinyl disk) and have a few more stabs at adjusting the colouration computer side to make it youtube friendly (believe it or not the aqua-marine glow you can see in the video was fairly dark green on the write medium, and purple at the stylus head in the original MOV file).

The idea of adding in vinyl sound effects is really cool, but I have no idea how I'd do it (Linux user, so not much in the way of free media editing suits). I'll have a stab and try to produce something half decent.

Thanks for the help,