Between all the telescopes, rocket engines, and body parts that people are printing these days, there are so many crazy additive manufacturing projects in the world that a 3D-printed TV hardly seems noteworthy at this point. But while we might not normally bat an eye at this kind of thing, Teleavia Matrix is different.
Unlike most complex 3D-printed objects, which require expensive industrial-grade printers, this retro-style LED-powered TV can actually be printed on just about any consumer-grade 3D printer on the market. You can make the entire thing with just a couple hundred bucks in parts — and a 3D printer, of course.
Don’t toss your Vizio in the trash quite yet though. The Teleavia Matrix isn’t going to replace your regular TV anytime soon. It’s really more of a novelty item than a full-on TV, but that doesn’t make it any less awesome. According to its creator David Choi, “the name and design are a tribute to the Art Deco, Teleavia Panoramic 111, a beautiful French television set released in 1957. The Panoramic 111 was a High Definition television capable of 819 lines, which is considered HD even today.”
While the original set may very well have been “high def,” Choi’s 3D-printed version isn’t. To generate pictures, the Teleavia Matrix uses a 32×16 inch LED NeoPixel matrix (hence the name), so it’s about as low-res as it gets. That said, when you consider the fact that it’s only got 512 giant pixels to work with, the images it’s capable of creating are pretty impressive.
The magic behind the LED matrix is a special NeoPixel driver (called FadeCandy) that enables dithering, or creating additional colors and shades from an existing palette by interspersing pixels of different colors. “Dithering results in higher quality images for an LED matrix,” Choi explained in an interview. “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.”
You can download the instructions and start building the Teleavia Matrix right now on Thingiverse — but it might be wise to hold off for a bit. Choi says it’s still a work in progress, and he’s still got a few wrinkles to iron out of the design before it’s ready for primetime. Plus, right now the screen is just a prototype made from cardbaord, though Choi expects to finish the design files for the screen soon.