Scotty of Strange Parts shops for wireless LEDs in Tokyo

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  1. Those component stalls in Akihabara are indeed wonderful.
  2. If I was lucky enough to have time in Tokyo again, I would not spend it soldering in a hotel room.

I am reminded of this passage (set in Akihabara) from Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon:

The place is laid out precisely like an Asian food market: it is a maze of narrow aisles winding among tiny stalls, barely larger than phone booths, where merchants have their wares laid out for inspection. The first thing they see is a wire stall: at least a hundred reels of different types and gauges of wire in gaily hued plastic insulation … An array of soldering irons bristles wickedly, giving one stall the look of a martial arts store. Coffee-can-sized potentiometers are stacked in pyramids.

… A pasocon otaku in a trench coat, holding a plastic bowl as shopping cart, hunches over a display of gleaming copper toroidal coils that look to have been hand-polished by the owner. Finger-sized halogen spotlights mounted on an overhead rack emphasize their geometric perfection.

… They wander past a stall that specializes in banana plugs, with a sideline in alligator clips, arranged in colorful rosettes around disks of cardboard.

… Avi stops in front of a stall that sells LEDs in all manner of bubble-gum colors, packed into tiny boxes like ripe tropical fruits in crates, and standing up from cubes of foam like psychedelic mushrooms.

Whatever his shortcomings may be (some consider him wordy, for example), Stephenson is a master of metaphor and simile. (LEDs “standing up from cubes of foam like psychedelic mushrooms”, indeed.)


My first reaction was: Cool! My second reaction was: Wait, where would you actually use this? I’m struggling to think of a situation where you might have a free-floating LED that couldn’t be wired up but it could also be close enough to the power source to work.




The power source is a game board, and the wireless LEDs are game tokens.


What would he make of alligator clips in actual candy jars?


about five years or more some guy got this done to his phone back plate

I suppose that is more convenient than having each token carry its own coin cell… but is it easier than just having a conductive-surface game board? (Because the field that would light up the pieces would need to cover the whole game board.)

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The induction field wouldn’t have to cover the entire game board. Imagine a chess board with sixty-four small, highly localized induction fields, one field per square.

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That seems worse, though…

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Can’t think of any use for this kludge but I’m glad to see that Akihabara is still a thing. I was there 30+ years ago – it was a wonder then and appears that new miracles are still on sale.

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