Controlling a TV with a microcontroller

Here’s two builds that print text to a TV with only two pins:

Still Alive with an Arduino

After seeing all the builds that play Still Alive, [Bob] decided to take a 1972 amber monitor and recreate the cut scene at the end of PortalThe build uses the TVout library for Arduino. There were a few problems with running the Unix and Still Alive animations at the same time, so [Bob] flips a bit in the EEPROM at the end of the command line animation and restarts into GLaDOS’ report. You can check out the old school color monitor here

ATMega Video Text Generator

[Stian] didn’t think his build was good enough for Hackaday, but his friend [Mikael] thought otherwise. [Stian] wrote a library to generate an NTSC video signal in real time. It’s a text-based build with 37×17 character resolution and only requires about 3kB of RAM. As a bonus, it only takes up two pins on [Stian]’s ATMega128.

You can check out the videos for both these builds after the break.

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You’ll throw your back out playing this analog TV synth


While CRT televisions fall to the wayside as more people adopt flat-panel TVs, the abundance of unused sets gives hacker/artist [Kyle Evans] an unlimited number of analog canvases on which to project his vision. He recently wrote in to share his latest creation which he dubs “de/Rastra”.

The “CRT Performance Interface” as he calls it, is an old analog television which he hacked to display signals created by moving the TV around. Fitted with an array of force sensors, accelerometers, and switches, the display is dynamically generated by the movements of whomever happens to be holding the set.

Signals are sent wirelessly from his sensor array to an Atmel 328 microcontroller with the help of a pair of XBee radios, where they are analyzed and used to generate a series of audio streams. The signals are fed into a 400W amplifier before being inserted into the CRT’s yoke, and subsequently displayed on the screen.

We’re sure [Kyle] is probably trying to express a complex metaphor about man’s futile attempts to impose his control over technology with his project, but we think it simply looks cool.

Check out [Kyle’s] work for yourself in the video below and give us your take in the comments.

Continue reading “You’ll throw your back out playing this analog TV synth”

Fairly simple hack makes Samsung TVs reboot forever

[Luigi Auriemma] almost rendered his brother’s TV useless attempting to play a simple practical joke. In the process, he uncovered a bug that could potentially upset a lot of people. His idea was to connect a computer to the system via WiFi, masquerading as a remote control.  [Luigi] found that by altering the packet being sent to the TV by adding a line feed and some other characters to the name, it would begin an endless reboot loop.

He also discovered that he could easily crash the devices by setting the MAC address string too long. We’re not sure if he’s modifying the remote, or the television on this one though.

These bugs affect the Samsung TVs and Blu Ray players that utilize the same chip. The crazy part is that despite his attempts, he has been unable to contact anyone at Samsung to let them know!

[via BoingBoing]

Facial recognition software can tell when you’re frustrated with Xbox Live

Most of us have been faced with the anguish of being shot in the head repeatedly by 12-year-olds. There are also the times when we’re overjoyed by defeating the Mother Brain and making it out of the caverns of Zebes. If we wanted to scientifically quantify how happy, sad, or angry we are while playing video games, we wouldn’t know what to do. [Dale] came up with a very interesting way to gauge someone’s state of mind while either playing Xbox, or watching TV.

To get a measure of how happy or sad he is, [Dale] put a webcam underneath his TV and pointed it towards his couch. Every 15 seconds or so, the webcam snaps a picture and sends if off to the API. After sends a blob of JSON containing information about all the faces detected in the photo, a short Python script plots it on a graph.

[Dale] admits he’s not entirely scientific with this project; the low resolution of the webcam, coupled with images being captured every 15 seconds means he runs into the limitations of his hardware very quickly. Also, there’s the confound of [Dale] paying attention to something else in the room – like his kids – rather than the TV. Still, it’s an interesting use of hardware and software that would be loved by a market researcher or QA designer.

Kid-friendly RFID media center playlist control


While young children have the tiny hands and fingers that most hackers/tinkerers wish they possessed from time to time, their fine motor skills aren’t always up to par when it comes to operating complicated electronics. People are always looking for ways to make their home entertainment systems accessible to their kids, and [Humpadilly] is no exception. Much like some of the other hacks we’ve seen this week, he has devised a way for his little ones (1 and 2 years old) to control his Dreambox Media Player using RFID, which seems to be the go-to technology for this sort of thing.

His RFID remote consists of three major components aside from the media player itself. An Arduino runs the show, and is connected to both an Ethernet shield and a breakout board fitted with an ID-20 RFID reader module. The Ethernet shield allows the Arduino to talk to his Dreambox over a telnet connection, while the RFID reader does what you would expect.

The device is in its infancy at the moment, and while [Humpadilly] hasn’t published a ton of details about the actual RFID devices he is using to control the system, he says that more details and improvements are forthcoming. In the meantime, you can check out his code here.

Combine 2 Non-Working Sony TVs into One That Works

Have you ever wondered if you could fix your two broken LCD TVs by combining them? Neither had we, but [Redion] did, and the answer is yes, it can be done.  Although it may sound like a serious kludge, the finished product actually looks quite nice from the view provided.  On the other hand, we don’t know how the internals will hold up, but it apparently works well now.

For this hack, the working internals from a  32 inch Sony LCD TV with a broken display were combined with a 40 inch Sony LCD TV that had an undamaged display but fried internals.  Although this would most likely not work for every TV out there, it’s still a pretty neat experiment. Many people would simply assume something like this would not work, and trash both TVs.  We would suggest the new TV be named “Nomad”, just avoid wearing a red shirt around it.

Keep in mind with any TV hack, taking one apart can expose you to large capacitors that may or may not be charged and can be quite dangerous (they can stay charged for a long time).  We don’t necessarily recommend duplicating anything here, but use extreme caution if attempting anything like this.

RCA DSB772WE teardown shows that this cheap streaming box might have potential


[David Anders] wrote in to share some details of a cheap little gadget he picked up at his local Wal-Mart. He scored the RCA DSB772WE media streaming box for $48, and so far it looks like it could be a promising addition to his living room.

He started a project page for the box, detailing some of his findings thus far. The device is MIPS based and runs the Linux kernel version right out of the box. The networking components are based on the Broadcom BCM7615 chipset, though it looks to [David] that the Ethernet jack was removed at some point during production.

So far, he’s managed to get a serial console running on the device, along with an additional USB host connection. That’s about all the poking around he has done thus far, but seeing as the box can output a 1080p signal over HDMI, it could be a cheap substitute for an Apple TV or similar device.

If you happen to have one of these at home, or are planning on buying one, be sure to check out his project page and contribute any information you might be able to glean from it. We’re sure [David] would appreciate it, and we certainly look forward to seeing what else comes out of his hacking adventures.