Dumpster hackers and junkyard makers get their own TV show

junkies_tv_show_science_channel

The Science Channel has a new show premiering tomorrow night that we think you won’t want to miss.

JUNKies takes a look at a group of junkyard engineers led by [Jimmy “The Junk Genius” Ruocco], who also happens to be the junkyard’s owner. From the trailer you can see below, the show looks like it will be pretty entertaining, combining the best parts of Junkyard Wars, Mythbusters, and even Jackass – with hilarious and interesting results.

The show includes crazy stuff that [Jimmy] and his crew piece together, as well as the creations of individuals that come by the shop looking for parts. When the crew is not busy concocting crazy machines, they seem more than happy to help random inventors and makers dig out just the right parts for their projects.

The show airs tomorrow night, 8/18, at 10 PM Eastern, so be sure to check it out and let us know what you think!

[via Make]

Automatically weed the celebrity gossip out of your TV time

[Matt Richardson] came up with a doozy of an idea: using an Arduino to monitor the closed caption on TV and mute it when news about ridiculous celebrities is on-screen.

He’s using the video experimenter shield to monitor the captions. This shield connects via composite video, and can be used to decode the binary code that carries the captions in the overscan at the top of the screen. When a keyword comes through, an IR LED sends the mute command to the television, then waits until 30 seconds have gone by since the last keyword before un-muting. It’s like a troll-sniffing rat for your television! Now we just need to figure out how to use it to mute during commercials too.

[Matt] suggests we should imagine all of the cool stuff we could do with access to the closed caption data; we were already deep in thought by the time he got around to the suggestion. This would be a fantastic prank in a location were the television sound is not being used. You could put the Arduino inline with the video feed, then program it to wait for keywords in the news report and alter them in funny ways… like a live mad lib.

You can see [Matt's] video explanation of the project after the break.

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LG TV hacking via serial connection or IR codes

[Brendan Robert] has been sending us forum thread links outlining the things he’s learned while hacking LG televisions. They were a bit hard to follow for the uninitiated, so we asked if he could give us an overview of what he’s been working on. Not only did he do that, but he made a little Hackaday shout-out seen above by adding the skull and cross-wrenches as one of the menu overlays.

He’s using a TV as his computer monitor, which he picked up at a discount because it was a display model. Without the original remote, and wanting to have features like power-saving mode which is standard on monitors but not on this TV, he decided to see what he could accomplish. A couple of things made this quite a bit easier. First, there’s an RS232 port built into the back which removes the need to investigate and solder your own onto the board. Secondly, since LG built on the Linux kernel for the set, you can download some of the firmware sources from their website.

What he came up with is a script that will find and communicate with the TV over the serial connection. The test script used during development polled every possible command, looking for valid return values. Once [Brendan] established which commands work and what they do, he was able to take command of the unit, writing scripts to adjust brightness based on the ambient light in the room as seen from the computer’s webcam. Make sure you check out the sub-pages to his post that detail the brightness adjustments, stand-by functionality, custom overlay graphics, and the extra commands he uncovered.

Last mile WiFi over TV white space

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What do you do when you can’t afford broadband and no-cost WiFi is just out of reach?

That was the problem Rice University grad student [Ryan Guerra] was tasked with solving. A local Houston resident could barely tap into the free service offered in her area, so [Ryan] set out to extend the signal’s range using white space previously occupied by TV signals.

Using channel 29 which operates at 563MHz, his “Super WiFi” project utilizes standard WiFi protocols and can extend the signal’s reach up to a mile. The WiFi signals at the closest tower are piped through a prototype frequency translator, shifting the signal from 2.4GHz down to 563MHz, which is far better suited for long(er)-haul transmissions. The system does not use channel bonding just yet, so it is limited to using about 25% of WiFi’s maximum bandwidth, which is far better than no signal at all.

While the widespread practical use of TV white space will take some time to come to fruition, this is definitely a step in the right direction.

[Thanks Chris]

TV Oscilloscope

Need an oscilloscope? Want to see the music? Don’t have money, but do have a old TV? Then this TV to oscilloscope mod may be right up your alley. Now don’t go running off just yet, when you’re working inside of a CRT device you are exposed to mains current, high voltage, and high frequency, so extra care needs to be observed .

If you have your rubber welding gloves, and have discharged all your fat capacitors (including the CRT) its pretty much the same magic trick as couple we have previously featured. Patch an amplified input signal into the vertical deflection coil and let her go, but this instructable features much more detailed instruction, and photos so you have a much better chance of replicating this (not quite lab grade) potentially useful device.

Join us after the break for a short video.

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Arduino Asteroids

[nootropic] has a new game out for hackvision, “Asteroids”! We covered the hackvision back when it first started appearing in October of 2010, and hardware wise it has not changed. It is still an Arduino (software) compatible system sporting a atmega328, video and audio out connections (uses the TV-out library), all on a nice printed circuit board that, with the buttons, resembles a game controller.

While its impressive enough to run arcade inspired games like space invaders, pong, and tetris while using Arduino and a library, Asteroids takes the game up a notch.

Features that make Asteroids well, Asteroids include a mod of the TV-out library so that bitmaps can fly over each other without erasing the pixels under them to give that old time vector arcade feel, and “point in polygon” style collision detection, which is a fantastic / efficient way of collision detection against irregular shapes, limited platform or not.

Last but not least, [nootropic] used the set_vbi_hook() function of the tv out library in sound design, going from simple “beeps” and “boops”, to “beeps” and “boops” on a constant 60Hz refresh (in the case of NTSC) that allows him to build more complex sound effects that give a nice arcade sound of explosions and laser blasts.

Join us after the break for a quick video, and remember, this is Arduino based so if you already have an Arduino, you can add the supporting hardware (buttons, resistors, and RCA jacks) and run any of the games currently offered, or make your own.

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CRT art: Wobbulator

The Wobbulator is a black and white CRT television that has additional hardware to manipulate the electrons as they bombard the phosphor layer of the screen. It was created by [June Paik] and you can find it at The Experimental Television Center. [Blair Neal] took some time to share the background information and some video on this interesting device.

The television has a second ”yoke” of coils around the ray tube. The TV still functions normally with these coils installed, but running a signal through them can further manipulate the picture. Hook, them up to a function generator and you can get some pretty wild effects. In this case, the signals from a sound generator are controlling the coils, resulting in the audio/video artwork which you can view after the break.

[Read more...]

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