HDTV antenna of a different color

hdtv-antenna-of-a-different-color

We’ve seen our share of commercially available HDTV antennas that work really poorly. For at least four years now we’ve gone without cable television, using a coat hanger antenna we made ourselves to record over-the-air broadcasts. But it’s a pretty ugly beast — we’re lucky enough to have an attic in which it can be hidden. If you’re in need of free television and don’t want an eyesore of a an antenna try building this foil and cardboard version. Even it if doesn’t work at all you’re only out about ten bucks.

The expensive part is the matching transformer which converts screw terminals to a coaxial cable connection so that it may be connected to your HDTV. You’ll need a few nuts and bolts, but we assume you can beg, borrow, or steal the tin foil, cardboard, and glue that round out the parts list. Glue, measure, cut, fold, fasten, finished! You’ll be watching horrible summer TV in no time!

If it doesn’t perform as expected just reuse that connector and try your luck with a fractal antenna.

Ambilight clone uses video pass-through; needs no computer

video-pass-through-ambilight-clone

To the best of our knowledge all of the Ambilight clones we’ve covered over the years have one thing in common. They need a computer to do the image processing. This one is different. The PCB seen on the left right is all you need for the video processing. The project is called SCIMO and is the handiwork of a hacker named [Keiang].

There are only few times that the DRM built into the HDMI standard has pissed us off. This is one of them. Because of HDCP and licensing issued revolving around HDMI [Keiang] didn’t use HDMI pass through. Instead he uses an HDMI to S-Video converter. This board acts as an S-Video pass through, analyzing the signal using an STM32 ARM chip before the video signal continues on to the television. It still produces a respectable picture, but wouldn’t it have been cleaner if he could have gone with the HDMI standard?

UPDATE: Thanks for the comments on this. It looks like the TV is getting an HDMI signal. The board is fed by the HDMI to S-Video converter which itself is getting HDMI in parallel with the television thanks to a splitter.

Where other examples use Boblight on a PC for processing this manages to do so as a standalone embedded system. It also offers quite a bit of flexibility when it comes to choosing the LEDs, supporting pixels that use DMX512, WS28xx, or TM18xx protocols.

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24-hour hackathon project adds object-based automation to hackerspace

hackerspace-automation

[Jeremy Blum], [Jason Wright], and [Sam Sinensky] combined forces for twenty-four hours to automate how the entertainment and lighting works at their hackerspace. They commandeered the whiteboard and used an already present webcam as part of their project. You can see the black tokens which can be moved around the blue tape outline to actuate the controls.

MATLAB is fed an image from the webcam which monitors the space. Frames are received once every second and parsed for changes in the tokens. There are small black squares which either skip to the next track of music or affect pause/play. Simply move them off of their designated spot and the image processing does the rest. This goes for the volume slider as well. We think the huge token for the lights is to ensure that the camera can sense a change in a darkened room.

If image processing isn’t your thing you can still control your audio entertainment with a frickin’ laser.

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Raspberry Pi used to build a smart television

rpi-based-smart-tv

In the title of his post [Donald Derek] calls this a Google TV you can build yourself. That’s certainly an over-reach. But the project is still a very impressive smart television built using a Raspberry Pi.

The open source project starts with the Rasbian OS, an RPi version of Debian Linux. Functionality is built up by installing Chromium to display webpages, a script to download YouTube videos, and OMXPlayer to play videos including 1080P HD content. The image above shows the smart phone controller for the system. This is provided by a Node.js configuration that manages communication between the remote and the RPi board.

On the one hand we love that this is open source. On the other, it’s not going to be able to tap into a lot of the content which makes a Google TV so valuable. For instance, you won’t be able to watch Netflix because that service doesn’t work on Linux systems. But you should be able to watch browser-based content like Hulu.

Plex hack runs Apple TV without a Jailbreak

plex-connect-on-apple-tv

Apple has been keeping a tight leash on the third generation of their Apple TV hardware. Not only has it stood up to every attempt at a Jailbreak, but they don’t allow 3rd party applications through the app store like the other iOS hardware does. The second generation hardware was a popular platform for XBMC. It required a jailbreak to load the home media software which is why it can’t be done on the newest box. But here’s an alternative. This hack uses DNS redirects to make Apple TV 3 a Plex frontend.

Instead of putting new software on the Apple TV this uses a separate computer to intercept its web traffic. You aim your Apple TV DNS at the computer running the script, then use the native Movie Trailer app, which will be populated with movies and TV shows from your Plex backend. All other functionality will be retained, making for a near-perfect solution. For more info on the system check out this forum.

[Read more...]

Ambilight clone has meaningful amount of resolution

james-bond-ambilight-clone

We don’t have an Ambilight clone on our own home theater, but seeing this one in action makes us wonder if we shouldn’t add it to the ever-growing list of projects we need to tackle (right below that POV display we’ve been putting off for years). [Falldeaf] built the colored light augmentation system using a set of WS2801 controlled LED pixels. There are a lot of them, and this results in the ‘meaningful resolution’ we mentioned in the title. The image on the screen is the opening to a James Bond film. You’ll remember that the camera shot down a rifle barrel follows him as he walks across the screen. There’s enough LEDs here to have to the light follow him across the screen as well. This is a nice touch that we don’t see in every Ambilight clone project.

A frame of fake-wood angle bracket holds each LED pixel in place. The entire assembly attaches to the VESA mounting holes on the back of the television. An Arduino addresses the lights while the Boblight package processes the video to acquire the lighting instructions. We think the hue is a bit off, but otherwise it’s a solid offering.

We’re still hoping the Microsoft IllumiRoom becomes a thing.

[Read more...]

Raspberry Pi housed inside a computer monitor

rpi-inside-a-computer-monitor

Behold, something we’ve always wanted. [Matthieu] mounted his Raspberry Pi board inside of a computer monitor. His work makes for the cheapest smart-TV modification we can possibly think of.

The image above shows the monitor’s driver board on the left, with the Raspberry Pi mounted on the back plastic cover. [Matthieu] used a short HDMI cable to connect the two. The HDMI connector plugs into the RPi directly. The other end has been cut off and the wires soldered to the DVI pins on the monitor’s PCB. This is not a problem since HDMI and DVI use electrically identical protocols. The one thing missing is audio. But if you were pulling off the same hack with a device that had HDMI (like a television) it would just be a matter of also soldering in the audio connections. While he had his iron hot he also connected a 5V source from the monitor board to the RPi. He completes his hack by cutting a slot in the monitor case to allow access to the SD card.

We’ve long wanted an XBMC computer we could velcro to the back of the TV and the RPi turned out to be just the thing. Now we’ve got to consider cracking open the TV to replicate this internalization hack!