For my efforts at jury service — the defense lawyer in a criminal case bounced me on a peremptory challenge — I received a check in the amount of $17.04 from the court. That seemed not worth the trip to the bank to deposit it. Fortunately my credit union now allows me to deposit checks via cell phone. The app takes a photo of the front and back of the check, you enter the amount, and it’s done. You hold on to the paper check for a few days to make sure it’s cleared, and when it does, you can rip it up.
Seems easy enough, but the devil is in the details. Holding the phone just right, and getting enough light on the check without the shadow of the phone (the flash isn’t very effective up close) turns out to be a PITA. Having just finished some carpentry projects I happened to have scraps of wood laying around and a table saw plugged in, so I kludged together a cell scanner (pictured). The phone lies flat on the upper platform. Underneath, an LED light source from IKEA (“OMLOPP” is the brand name) throws photons down on the paper. The upper structure floats on a pillar scavenged from a toilet tank repair kit (“Hunter” brand) that I happened to have lying around. This tube lets the platform be raised from about 6 inches, for a check, to about a foot, which works for a full 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper.
This contraption works. Not brilliantly, but good enough. However, every detail of it screams “kludge”! Someone with more brains, tools, and materials should be able to make one that’s much lighter, smaller, and brighter. How about it, you clever inventors and entrepreneurs out there?