an image of the volume adjustment board

Is Your Movie Too Loud? Can’t Hear The Dialogue? This Circuit Can Help.

Everyone loves watching movies, that is, so long as you can hear what the characters on screen are saying. [GreatScott] found this second part difficult while watching through BladeRunner 2049, so he designed an automatic volume adjuster to assist.

At a high level, the solution is fairly straightforward; when there is loud music playing in a movie, turn the volume down. The challenge is how to actually achieve that. The first step was controlling the volume. To avoid having to modify or damage his sound system, [GreatScott] opted instead to mimic the volume up and down signals of his remote over IR. Using the very handy IRremote library for Arduino and its built-in decoding functionality, he was able to identify and replicate the signals with his own IR LED.

The second step in this process was measuring the volume of the movie. [GreatScott] achieved this with a microphone and amplifier circuit, that was then piped into one of the analog pins of the Arduino Pro Micro at the heart of the build. Since the audio being sampled could have a frequency as high as 20 kHz, the ADC Prescaler had to be adjusted from its standard value, which would have only permitted measurements at less than 5 kHz.

The third step was writing the algorithm to detect loud music and adjust the volume accordingly. The Arduino will measure the audio until a sound greater than the dead band value, set with one of the two onboard potentiometers, is detected. This then triggers the Arduino to start a timer, to see how frequently the upper limit is being surpassed. If it is just one or two occasionally loud noises (like a scream, a clap, whistling, etc.) the Arduino will not take any action, but multiple loud noises in rapid succession will then trigger the volume down command over the IR LED. A second potentiometer allows for adjustment of this timer’s critical value, so that you can make the system respond faster or slower depending on the movie.

Once the sound has been detected to have dropped down below a critical vaue, the Arduino assumes that the movie is back to dialog and will increase the volume by the number of times it decreased it before, leaving you back at the perfect volume.

Maybe you’re the type that cares more for the visuals of a movie, rather than the audio. In that case, this e-paper movie display will be perfect for giving you time to appreciate every frame!

Continue reading “Is Your Movie Too Loud? Can’t Hear The Dialogue? This Circuit Can Help.”

Using Missile Tech To See Like Predator

[Artem Litvinovich] wanted to see by heat vision like in the Predator movies. He not only succeeded but went on to see in color, medium-wave IR, short-wave IR, and ultraviolet using a very unique approach since his effort began back in 2009.

He started with a box based on the basic pinhole camera concept. In the box is a physical X-Y digitizer moving a photodiode to collect the thousands of points needed to create a picture. First all he got, due to the high signal amplification, was the 60 cycle hum that permeates our lives. A Faraday cage around the box helped but metal foil around the sensor and amplifier finally eliminated the noise. Now he had pictures in the near infrared (NIR). Continue reading “Using Missile Tech To See Like Predator”

Infrared Detector Selects Over A Wide Range

You can classify infrared light into three broad ranges: short wave, medium wave, and long wave. Traditionally, sensors concentrate on one or two bands, and each band has its own purpose. Short wave IR, for example, produces images similar to visible light images. Long wave is good for thermal imaging.

Researchers have announced a new detector that, by adjusting a bias, can detect all three bands using a simple approach that stacks different absorption layers over a semiconductor substrate. The device only requires two terminals and is very efficient, although the efficiency varies based on the band.

We’ve covered infrared sensing before. We’ve even seen DSLRs hacked into IR sensors. This new research might be a bit much to duplicate in your garage. After all, it requires tellurium doped gallium antimonide substrates and sophisticated processing equipment. However, this research will probably lead to practical devices that will find their way into projects before too long.