Dedicated Box Makes YouTube More TV-Like

Dedicated box to play new videos from a handful of content creators.

[Exposed Wire] is a huge fan of YouTube and consumes a lot of content. If that sounds familiar, maybe you should build a dedicated YouTube box, too. You get to push buttons, there’s LEDs, and you can take a break from other screens to look at this one for a while. [Exposed Wire] wanted to make it easier to watch the latest videos from their favorite creators, but we would argue that this is more fun, too.

The Rasberry Pi 4 inside checks every five minutes for new videos by keeping track of the creator’s total number of videos in a text file and doing a comparison. If one of the channels has a new video, then the corresponding LED lights up and the new video’s URL is linked to the button. Press the button and the Raspi opens the browser, goes the the URL, maximizes the video, turns off the LED, and updates the video count in the text file.

We like the construction job here. The 1/4″ MDF walls are connected by 3D-printed L-brackets in PETG. At first, [Exposed Wire] mounted the LEDs and buttons to a PCB, but that was really fiddly so they printed panels instead. Combined with the bracket around the screen, the finished build looks good. Check out the build montage after the break.

Regular old YouTube videos not doing it for you anymore? Try watching them at low resolution on an LED matrix.

19 thoughts on “Dedicated Box Makes YouTube More TV-Like

  1. Just like a normal tv, it needs a remote with a mute button to silence the commercials, and maybe a skip button so we don’t have to watch another video of a guy feeding racoons on his porch

  2. What a fun concept and the idea of checking the video count is a nice way to prevent subscribing or checking for incoming messages. Cool idea… until millions of these devices are using this method, but that’s not relevant for a single project like this. The concept of the 3D printed pieces to prevent the use of glue is an interesting design choice, but why not.

  3. I’m getting ever more disillusioned with YouTube, as more ads, including more unskippable ads, seem to be coming onlline, and “smash that Like button” or Subscribe now! get ever more obnoxious. Yet I just don’t have justification for why I should pay YouTube to get rid of ads. The first and foremost reason I started browsing Youtube was because it was “free”. Maybe it’s just my personal fantasy, but I think YT would have died a decade ago if it wasn’t free, or if they introduced ads suddenly instead of drip-drip-drip. I do some monthly donations to Patreon, but, for example, a lot of my browsing is for information on vintage computers which can be obscure. LGR, Adrian’s Basement, 8-bit Guy, Perifractic’s Retro Recipe’s, and the RetroManCave still can’t cover all my obscure finds that interest me as restoration projects.
    There are more and more Open Source video networks that try to replace YT, but none of them really have anywhere near the scope and variety of YT. I the screaming and shouting on the channels my nephews watch is just soul-crushing. When growing up, there were only Saturday morning cartoons and late-afternoon UHF TV after school had such a hold. It’s 24/7 now that kids have the equivalent of a heavy PCP trip at their fingertips. I was about to say “bad trip”, but that doesn’t capture how totally addicted and enthralled they are to YT content. I might as well not exist when they get online.
    I’m afraid a dedicated box would just inspire violence against such a machine. Throwing a brick at it would just be too tempting!

  4. This might be a better idea to put into one of my ancient TVs (which I already have a RasPI hooked up to) (ancient being late 1970s in this case, I even use an RF converter).
    My idea was to have the RasPi browse TV schedules from when the set was made and then show whatever was running on the same date in that year, so you’d have a time machine tube TV which works like TV worked back then (except the ads will be different).

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