If the addition of Siri to your iPhone has given you a somewhat-real life companion (and hope that you might not be forever alone) this hack is right up your alley. [Todd Treece] built a hardware fixiture for the living room which bridges the gap between Apple’s new digital assitant and your television.
The box itself is an Arduino with a WiFly shield and the hardware necessary to make it a universal infrared remote control. He mounted it on the underside of his end table, with the IR LED in line-of-sight for the television. Using SiriProxy he’s added functionality that lets you request a channel change either by the name of the network, or the channel number.
As you can see in the video after the break, Siri has some strong opinions on the quality of programming for certain channels. That and contempt for your inability to just change the channel yourself. But this setup does augment your remote control experience by giving you a synopsis of what’s playing right now for the channel you’ve requested.
Continue reading “Siri as a lippy and sometimes profane television remote”
[Igor] helped his friend’s family out by retrofitting an old Philco television with a newer flat panel (translated). The original conked out over thirty years ago, but the look of it still held quite a bit of nostalgia for his girlfriend’s Grandmother. She showed it to him on a recent visit and asked if it could be restored. He told her that it would most likely never work again, but that he could use modern components to replace the screen, while preserving the case itself.
The best thing about old hardware like this is that you can actually get the case apart fairly easily. After removing the tube and electronics he traced a pattern of the opening that he could take along to the electronics store to find a TV which would fill the opening. With the new screen in hand he found that using the threaded holes intended for VESA mounting brackets made it simple to install in the old case. A steel bar bolts onto the plate which he cut and drilled to match the TV’s hole pattern. Now Grandma is happy to have the retro-looking case with a modern high-def picture.
[Fernando] is working on creating a game at home, with live scoring displayed on a large LCD TV. He’s keeping mum as to what the game entails, but he was more than happy to spill the details on how he planned to use the television as a wireless scoreboard.
The writeup is the first part in what will likely be a substantial series of progress reports, covering how he used an ATtiny45 to drive his LCD display. Eventually, the scoreboard will use a Bluetooth adapter for wireless input, but his immediate goal was to get the display running properly.
He explains how he uses the tiny micro and its limited set of I/O pins to drive the display, dipping into some of the technical details along the way. He discusses how he worked out the timings of the VSYNC and HSYNC pulsing, as well as how how the characters are actually drawn on the screen.
The article isn’t overly heavy on the technical details, and he has sample code available so you can take a look at how the VGA magic was done, so be sure to check it out.
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!
[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.
Continue reading “Automatically weed the celebrity gossip out of your TV time”
[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.
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.