From the MAKE Flickr pool

Furan dug into an LED message scrolling badge to gain custom control –

This is one of those el-cheapo led nametag badges. The inside of the badge had one of those gloptop chips between some pads for a smt chip, so I dremeled out the gloptop, reverse engineered the schematics for the board, and hooked up an AVR. This is just the start, coming soon I’ll do this with a white and blue badge, completely self contained with (hopefully) decent PWM effects

Total removal is certainly one effective way of dealing with the problem of manufacturer’s “black blob” IC’s.