Toy Television’s Dreams Come True

A couple of years ago, [Alec]’s boss brought him a souvenir from Mexico City—a small mid-century console television made of scrap wood and cardboard. It’s probably meant to be a picture frame, but [Alec] was determined to give it a better life.

As it turns out, the screen of [Alec]’s old Samsung I9000 was a perfect fit for the cabinet with room to spare. It was on its way to becoming a real (YouTube) TV once [Alec] could find a way to control it remotely. A giant new-old stock remote that’s almost bigger than the TV was just the thing. There’s enough room inside the remote for a non-LE Bluefruit module, which is what the I9000 will accept as input without complaint.

Trouble is, Bluefruit doesn’t support matrix keypads, so [Alec] used a bare ATMega328 running on the internal clock. Since the Bluefruit board provides voltage regulation, the remote was able to keep its native 9V power. [Alec] is happy with the results, though he plans to refine his button choices and maybe make a new overlay for the remote. Stay tuned for a tiny TV tour.

12 thoughts on “Toy Television’s Dreams Come True

  1. It isn’t true to those old consoles. The corners of the flat screen need to be cropped by the curve of the mask. Back then no black space would be seen at all. Throw the edges of the picture away but let no edge be seen.
    Back in the 70-90’s I would adjust my TV’s for underscan so I could see the frame the cameraman saw. I saw stuff that was not meant to be seen on free TV. People always reacted to “wrong” picture though.

    1. What do you mean, installing a leftover Android phone into a scrap wood box isn’t true to the old console TV? ;)

      I looked into CRTs but couldn’t find anything easily available that wouldn’t have stuck a mile out the back. The phone was handy, the screen fit pretty well, so here we are. It’s the remote that makes it interesting, I think.

      1. What would really be neat is finding one of those old remotes that had a pair of near-ultrasonic whistles inside and two buttons. One turned the TV on and off, the other one advanced up a channel. Not a big deal to go all the way around to get from 4 to 2 when there were only 13 numbers on the VHF dial.

        I say near-ultrasonic because if you have good hearing you can hear a quiet *chuff* when the buttons are pressed.

        The hack would be to have a program on the phone listen for the sounds made by the remote, then do things in response to the sounds. 1960’s TV remote controlling a 21st century smartphone, wireless, no infrared or radio frequencies and no batteries.

    2. Don’t forget the aspect ratio… Gonna lose some more pixels… And where are the volume knob and the power button?

      Come on, this project is about the BT remote control, not how vintage/retro we are.

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