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RedScreen - Night vision software for OSX

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#26 Darron Spohn

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Posted 12 March 2010 - 10:16 PM

I'll try it tomorrow and let you know what I think.

#27 psonice

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Posted 13 March 2010 - 11:25 AM

Thanks - let me know even if it works fine. Theres nothing worse than asking for feedback and hearing nothing - I don't know if nobody has tried it or if it's being used by lots of people and working fine :D

I pushed out 2.0.1 today by the way - it will auto update at some point, but you can speed it up by checking for updates from the menu. It's just a bug fix release, and the bugs are either minor or only seem to affect 10.4 systems so it's not major.

#28 Darron Spohn

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Posted 18 March 2010 - 08:04 AM

Redscreeen 2.0 works fine on my 13-inch MacBook Pro under OS 10.6. One of our club members has a Windows 7 laptop and runs the same planetarium software I use on my Mac (Sky Gazer 4.5) and we could not tell any difference between our screens. He uses binder clips to place rubylith over his laptop screen. It was interesting comparing what we could see onscreen using identical planetarium software but completely different computers and dark adaptation schemes.

This software makes using my MacBook Pro much easier at star parties, and I don't have to pack rubylith. Excellent job.

#29 psonice

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Posted 18 March 2010 - 03:03 PM

Ah, good to know it's working well! Especially good to hear that it performs as well as rubylith - I've heard "it'll never be as good as rubylith" a lot lately ;)

I've officially released 2.0 by the way - in fact it's now up to 2.0.2.

#30 Darron Spohn

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Posted 19 March 2010 - 07:11 PM

Ah, good to know it's working well! Especially good to hear that it performs as well as rubylith - I've heard "it'll never be as good as rubylith" a lot lately ;)

I'm always amazed at how many people reach conclusions based on their expectations rather than on testing.

#31 btschumy

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Posted 21 March 2010 - 09:27 PM

Psonice,

I just finished some tests of RedScreen and I must disagree with Darron's conclusions that it is as good as Rubylith (or red plexiglas in my case).

I have an ~3 year old MacBook Pro. This has (I believe) an LCD display. The latest models use a backlit LED screen and perhaps I'd get different results with those.

I spent some quality time in a dark room playing with both RedScreen and RedPlexiglas. I really felt the plexiglas gave a much deeper red that was much less detrimental to my night vision. Admittedly, this was not out under the stars where I could do a accurate LM estimation after using both.

As has been stated before, the main problem with using software night vision modes is the white light leakage around the pixels. This is a killer for me. You can easily see this using RedScreen by setting:

Red to full on
Dimming to full on (i.e. close to totally black)
Backlight to none

With these settings you can't read anything on the screen, but the "dark" screen glows with enough leaked white light that I can even read my keyboard by it when dark adapted.

You can also see the light leakage by setting the RedScreen setting to something more reasonable and viewing the screen from a 45º angle. There is a strong whitish glow given off. This is totally controlled with a physical solution (plexiglas or rubylith).

As I said, maybe this problem no longer exists with backlit LED displays and it is only a problem with older LCD. I don't have a newer MacBook to test with. All I know is that this solution does not work as well in my case. Sorry.

#32 psonice

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Posted 22 March 2010 - 06:33 AM

Bill: thanks for the objective testing!

Backlight leak is definitely an issue. Like you say though, it depends on the screen type (yours is a general backlit LCD, a cheaper TN type panel by the sounds of it). As a rough guide:

- Older LCDs are, well, terrible. I have a G3 iBook (8+ years old), and with redscreen running it's pretty horrible. The whole panel glows bright grey even with the backlight on minimum.

- Newer LCDs are a LOT better, backlight bleed is hugely reduced and they go a lot darker. There's still some leakage though, in really dark places you end up with a blue glow across the screen. It's fairly mild, but gets to be more of an issue the darker you go. Note that there's 2 types of general LCD screen, and they behave differently:

- TN screens are cheaper, lower quality, and suffer from viewing angle issues. They can only show 16 bit colour, and you get colour shifting and darkening depending on what angle you're looking at the screen from. Unfortunately apple have been using them quite a lot in the macbook pros! With these, you'll get a lot more light bleed when looking at the screen from an angle.

- IPS screens are much better quality 24 bit colour screens, with very slight viewing angle issues. This is what I have in my older powerbook, and the light bleed from an angle is not much worse than head-on. I think macbook pros with the 'matte screen' option might have IPS displays too.

- LED backlit LCD screens are by far the best from what I've seen. They're still LCD, and will still have the IPS/TN displays and their associated issues, but the backlight is massively improved. Unfortunately I don't have one for testing, but when I borrowed one previously it looked extremely good - the display went near-black, but with red still visible on screen. We could do with a good objective test with one of those :)

By the way, it seems almost everyone missed out the most obvious problem with this - the big glowing white apple logo on the back of the screen :D The backlight shines through it, and there's no way to change it to any colour other than white! Luckily it's easy enough to cover it (it's also possible to insert some red film into it, but that's a non-trivial hardware mod..)

If anyone else does some testing of this, please cover up the apple logo :)

#33 Darron Spohn

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Posted 22 March 2010 - 11:30 AM

Not just the big Apple logo, but the power indicator light on the front of the MacBook Pro is pretty annoying too. I use rubylith over both.

Bill, if you hadn't moved to Colorado we could have compared our computers side-by-side. I bought my MacBook Pro in December, so it has the LED screen.

#34 btschumy

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Posted 22 March 2010 - 12:35 PM

Darron,

Sorry, but I'm in Longmont now. No chance to do a side-by-side.

Maybe the new LED screen makes a big difference. I don't know. You should try the test I did of turning the backlight off and the dimness all the way up. See if you dark screen glows in a dark room. That's the pixel leakage.

#35 Darron Spohn

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Posted 22 March 2010 - 09:09 PM

Bill,

Yeah, I wish we had this software before you left. It would have been nice to do a side-by-side with different versions of the MacBook Pro.

Stay warm,

Darron

#36 psonice

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Posted 23 March 2010 - 05:03 AM

At some point I'm sure to have access to a new LED macbook pro and I'll try and do some comparison photos. I can easily get the backlight leakage to show up in a photo with a few seconds exposure on my powerbook.

It's a comparison I'm very keen to do actually - I had an LED macbook to test briefly before, and didn't see any sign of leakage from it. Unfortunately it wasn't exactly an ideal test - I put it in a dark server room here at work, where there's still a lot of small lights. Still, it looked considerably better than the non-LED display on my powerbook.

I took a few photos with my powerbook for comparison:

Posted Image

This is two shots, with identical camera settings, and identical laptop settings except that redscreen is activated in the left hand one. Backlight brightness was actually set to minimum in the one on the right. In practice, with redscreen on there was some backlight leakage (a blue/grey glow to the screen - you can just see that the dark parts of the screen are grey), but it was reasonably low level (nowhere near enough to affect usage, and personally I think it wasn't enough to affect night vision, but it's definitely there). Once redscreen is turned off, it's like having a flashbulb fire in your face :D

#37 psonice

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Posted 25 March 2010 - 05:22 AM

At some point I'm sure to have access to a new LED macbook pro and I'll try and do some comparison photos. I can easily get the backlight leakage to show up in a photo with a few seconds exposure on my powerbook.


Well, I got a macbook - an older, non-LED one unfortunately. However, what I can say is that the screen on these things is absolutely terrible. Viewing angles are terrible, light leakage is terrible.. urgh! Well, it's totally convinced me to never buy a laptop with a TN screen. It's massively worse than my old powerbook, which is several years older!

I guess this is what Bill saw. I've not had chance to do side-by-side comparisons with my powerbook yet, but at first glance I'd say it's pretty disastrous for night use. I'm curious now to test my old powerbook, the new TN panelled macbook, and a new LED backlit macbook pro. With the LED screens, it seems they're still using TN panels. But when I tried it before, the screen looked excellent compared to my powerbook... will it hold up under proper testing? Anyone want to send me one? :D

#38 troypiggo

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Posted 06 April 2010 - 02:14 AM

Hi there. Fantastic application. I've only just downloaded and installed it, but don't think this is currently available - wondering about a feature request to have a button or something to disable the keyboard lighting up when it gets dark. Just so this application can be a one-stop-shop for dark sites, you just run RedScreen and you know your MacBook won't be lighting up the surrounding area. What do you think?

#39 psonice

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Posted 06 April 2010 - 03:42 AM

Thanks for the feedback. Yeah, disabling the keyboard lights is already on the 'to do' list, as is killing the ambient light sensor (it can override the backlight setting on some laptops) and a few more bits and bobs.

I've got a couple of other things to fix up first (mainly some asteroid hunting software), but it should be done in the next few weeks I guess :) Keep the suggestions coming.

#40 troypiggo

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Posted 06 April 2010 - 06:59 AM

Awesome! Is there a way of disabling the Apple logo light on the notebook lid (ie back of the screen)?

#41 psonice

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Posted 06 April 2010 - 07:15 AM

Yeah, stick something over it ;)

There's no actual "light" behind the logo - just a hole in the back of the screen. It lets the backlight from the screen itself shine through (from what I understand of it at least). So if you turn that off, the screen is black, and the backlight is always white so it can't be made red either.

#42 troypiggo

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Posted 06 April 2010 - 05:47 PM

I see. I thought as much. That's what I've been doing to date, so will continue with that. Thanks again, mate.

#43 troypiggo

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Posted 13 April 2010 - 07:54 PM

Well I was out on Saturday night and get RedScreen a go. Worked a treat.


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