- My iRiver H140 Backlight Colour Gel Mod -

Last Update:  March 08, 2012

     NEW: check out my Olympus LS7 Gel mod

Day 1:
Day 2.

This is a quick writeup of my experiments of modifying my iRiver H140 screen backlight colour with colour gels (plastic filters used with stage lighting etc):

Note that the following pics were doctored to make them look as much as possible like the real thing.

It was sparked by this thread about changing the backlight LEDs to another colour (v. cool).  I was looking at doing that as it will give the best results, but as I opened the player for the first time, I decided to play safe and try some colour gels instead.  I have two lots of gel sample books (you can get them from theatre/stage equipment suppliers).

First, note that unlike the H1x0 dismantling instructions here, my HD had some additional shock-proofing rubber around it, which is also glued down at the top (gently pulling gradually removes the glued rubber blocks - the glue is sticky enough that you can just press them back into place later):

OK, so I tried various colour gels over the screen.  You can get some really deep colours - except they remove far too much light, making the text hard to read.  Damn.  Some filters seemed to work really well though - you can get a slightly deeper blue v. easily without loosing too much light (but I didn't want to go that way).  Certain greens also work surprisingly well.  Pale purples didn't look too bad either:

Other shades are possible too, including a completely neutral grey (interesting, but ew).

The next question was what the screen would look like with the backlight off and only external light falling on it.  There a bunch of filters I'd earmarked turned out to be useless - far too dark to see anything, even in bright light (I didn't take any pictures of that).  The worst are the very deep blues.  The best were the greens and redish purples.

After narrowing the choice to a green and purple, both of which didn't seem to loose too much light but still looked great, I decided to go for the purple (the actual gel is more pink, but as the backlight is blue-ish it ends up looking purple).  Here's the piece I cut from the samples:

And here it is installed into the front casing, taped down with tiny bits gaffa (duct) tape:

The upside: the player looks great turned off:

... and turned on with the backlight off:

The downside: at first the backlight seemed darker than when I tested the filters, and really too dark for my liking.  Ignore the noise in the pic, although the reddish reflection on the left part of the screen is actually accurate and quite an interesting effect (incoming light is red/pink, the backlight is purple):

You can still read text, but it's lost some of its impact.  I did get used to it and it was OK, but not great.

In the end good practice (plus I didn't fry anything : ), but I will probably replace the LEDs eventually.

-> Day 2: The Green Gel.

Comments?  Questions?  Post them here.