This Is the Best Technological Vandalism We've Seen This Year

In a perfect act of vandalism, Matt Gray attached a sweeping red LED lighting effect to the "Knightrider Court" sign in London.

We do not condone vandalism. But that doesn't mean we can't appreciate some particularly clever vandalism that doesn't do any real harm. However, seriously, we don't approve of this kind of thing. Still, please let us know if you do something hilarious like Matt Gray did when he added a sweeping LED effect to the Knightrider Court building in London.

To help our younger readers understand this joke, we need to take a trip back in time to the 1980s. It was an era in which money was flowing and Hollywood execs would green light just about any idea presented to them. It was from that "anything goes" decade that we got Knightrider, which was a TV show about an artificially intelligent talking car (voiced by William Daniels, who you might know as Mr. Feeny from Boy Meets World). That car had an iconic sweeping red lighting effect on the grill, which seemedfuturistic at the time for reasons that are hard to explain today. Gray, in the geekiest prank imaginable, decided to add that effect to the sign on the coincidentally named Knightrider Court building.

The effect in question is quite simple: it is just a strip of lights that illuminate in a sweeping pattern, back and forth endlessly. Battlestar Galactica fans might associate that effect with cylons. Creating that effect in the '80s was difficult, but it is trivial today with our modern technology. All you need is a strip of individually addressable LEDs (WS2812B "NeoPixel" LEDs are the easiest to find), a development board like Adafruit's Gemma, and a power source. Gray attached his LED strip to a length of aluminum extrusion, with a small 3D-printed box at one end to house the electronics.

Gray then proceeded to attach the contraption on the brick wall below the "Knightrider Court" sign using some strong double-sided tape. Gray placed it on the wall at 9pm in the evening, then went back the next morning to replace the battery. After that, he spent the day observing the sign to see if anyone would notice. A few people did — though not as many as this act of vandalism deserved. Finally, Gray took down the LEDs later in the day to avoid potential fines or lifelong imprisonment.

We applaud your efforts, Mr. Gray. If all vandalism was this fun and clever, the world would be a much better place.

Cameron Coward
Writer for Hackster News. Proud husband and dog dad. Maker and serial hobbyist.
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