Your Audio Will Be Back, Right After This Commercial Break

[LittleTern] — annoyed by repetitive advertisements — wanted the ability to mute their Satellite Box for the duration of every commercial break. Attempts to crack their Satellite Box’s IR protocol went nowhere, so they thought — why not simply mute the TV?

Briefly toying with the idea of a separate remote for the function, [LittleTern] discarded that option as quickly as one tends to lose an additional remote. Instead, they’re using the spare RGYB buttons on their Sony Bravia remote — cutting down on total remotes while still controlling the IR muting system. Each of the four coloured buttons normally don’t do much, so they’re set do different mute length timers — customized for the channel or time of day. The system that sends the code to the TV is an Arduino Pro Mini controlling an IR LED and receiver, with a status LED set to glow according to which button was pressed.

Continue reading “Your Audio Will Be Back, Right After This Commercial Break”

Make Christmas Commercial Again with this Tiny TV Ornament

Readers of a certain age will remember a time when the Christmas season in the US officially kicked off after Thanksgiving. That was when advertisers began saturation bombing the communal mind with holiday-themed TV commercials night and day. Broadcast TV no longer holds sway like it did back then, and advertisers now start their onslaught in September, but you can put a little retro-commercialism back to Christmas with this 90s Christmas commercial-playing ornament for your tree.

The idea came to [SeanHodgins] after stumbling upon a collection of Christmas commercials from the 1990s on YouTube. With his content identified, he set about building a tree-worthy display from a Pi Zero W and a TFT LCD display. An audio amp and tiny speaker from an old tablet and a LiPo battery and charger form the guts of [Sean]’s TV, which were stuffed into a 3D-printed TV case, appropriately modeled after the TV from The Simpsons. The small fresnel lens that mimics the curved screens of yore is a nice touch. The software has some neat tricks, such as an HTTP server that accepts the slug of a YouTube video, fetches the MP4, and automatically plays it. We prefer our Christmas tree ornaments a little quieter, so a volume control would have been nice, but aside from that this looks like a ton of fun.

This isn’t [Sean]’s first foray into tricked-out ornaments, of course; readers might recall his IoT cheer-measuring Christmas ornaments from last season.

Continue reading “Make Christmas Commercial Again with this Tiny TV Ornament”

Automatic volume control puts the kibosh on loud TV commercials

automatic-tv-volume-control

If you’re having a hard time tuning out those loud commercials why not let your electronics project do it for you? This is an Arduino-based setup which adjusts television volume when it goes above a certain threshold. It uses a microphone, rather than a direct audio signal, so you can set it based on what is actually heard in the room.

The control scheme uses the IR LED and IR receiver seen on the breadboarded circuit above. The receiver lets you teach your volume up and down buttons from your remote control to the system. The one failing we see in the design is that the volume level is hard-coded, requiring you to flash new code to make adjustments (perhaps an enterprising reader could add a potentiometer for making easy adjustments?).

We can’t help but be reminded of the setup which reads the closed caption info to mute topics you’ve added to a blacklist.

Humanizing Microsoft

Ok, you’ve probably already seen it. If not, go watch the new Microsoft commercial right now. The commercial itself is nothing amazing. Its an obvious attempt to humanize [Bill Gates] and Microsoft.  [Bill] is almost endearing in his clunky delivery of the lines.  We could even get to like him. Imagine him stumbling through the world as a normal guy dealing with software as the rest of us do.  Would he change things? Could we get a sitcom with [Bill Gates] and [John Hodgman]? Would you watch it?  We would.