Benchmark electronics prototyping

The Arduino and initial components for prototyping have been purchased and assembled. The prototype circuit for an upcoming 16-segment scanning backlight is currently being tested with simple LED’s (LED ribbons will be used instead in the near future).

Arduino tests today have shown that very accurate 1/10,000th second strobes (per segment) can be accomplished. LED’s can switch in less than one microsecond.

Currently, the limiting factor is the amount of brightness that can be squeezed into a scanning backlight behind an LCD panel. Short periods of illumination for each segment results in a dimmer image. Extra backlight brightness is needed in order to compensate for the long dark periods between strobes (at 1 strobe per segment per LCD refresh). The design goal is at least 90% motion-blur reduction (suitable for games and computer, insignificant input lag) without using motion interpolation. This requires LED’s to be dark 90% of the time. As a result, the backlight needs to be 10 times brighter during the illumination, just to compensate for the short illumination strobe!

New posts added in threads at AVSFORUM,, and

Schematic diagram for scanning backlight

NOTE: This is a very old article.
Newer article is Electronics Hacking: Creating a Strobe Backlight.

This is a simplified schematic diagram for a home-made scanning backlight driven by an Arduino, an open-source electronics prototyping platform.The Arduino monitors the VSYNC signal (input-lag compensated) and executes a backlight scanning sequence, using ultra-short strobes of super bright LED’s per segment. This greatly reduces motion blur. For the brightness required for ultra-short strobes, reels of LED ribbons totalling thousands of LED’s will be used instead of individual LED’s.

Note: This is a draft diagram. It may be missing some supplemental components (e.g. resistors at MOSFET gates).

EDIT: This is a very old article. Please see Electronics Hacking: Creating a Strobe Backlight for current information.

Arduino scanning backlight is viable

Positive comments have been received about the viability of my Arduino scanning backlight project on the various discussion forums, and from industry professionals including from John Carmack of iD Software on twitter!

Mark Rejhon @mdrejhon
@ID_AA_Carmack I’m researching home-made Arduino scanning backlight (90%:10% dark:bright) using 100-200 watts of LED’s.…

John Carmack @ID_AA_Carmack
@mdrejhon Good project. You definitely want to find the hardware vsync, don’t try to communicate it from the host.

(Link to this tweet on twitter)

EDIT: Project is now published at: Electronics Hacking: Creating a Strobe Backlight