Once upon a time, we would run home from the bus stop to watch Gargoyles and Brady Bunch reruns on the family TV, a late-1970s console Magnavox number that sat on the floor and was about 50% more cabinet than CRT. The old TV, a streamlined white Zenith at least ten years older, had been relegated to the man cave in the basement. It looked so mod compared to the “new” TV, but that’s not the aesthetic my folks were after. They wanted their electronics to double as furniture.
This little TV is a happy medium between the two styles, and for us, it’s all about those feet. But instead of cartoons, it switches between showing the current weather and the top news headlines. Inside that classy oak cabinet is an LCD, an ESP32, and an SD card module. The TV uses OpenWeatherMap and pulls the corresponding weather image from the SD card based on time of day — light images for day, and dark images for night.
We love that it shows the SMPTE color bars, aka the standard American TV test pattern as it switches between weather and news. After showing the top headlines, it automatically switches back to the weather channel. Be sure to check out the short demo video after the break.
Do you like your tiny televisions in strange places? Here’s one you can use to trim your tree this year.
Continue reading “Tiny TV Tells The Temperature Tale” →
Night creatures and insomniacs of a bygone era may fondly recall a TV test pattern appearing once [Jack Parr] or [Steve Allen] had had their say and the local TV station’s regular broadcast day had concluded. It was affectionately known as the Indian Head test pattern, for the stylized Native American, resplendent in a feathered headdress, that featured prominently in the graphic.
Unknown to most viewers was exactly how that test pattern and others like it were generated. But thanks to [Rich “The Lab Guy” Diehl] and his monoscope restoration project, we can all share in the retro details. It turns out that while some test patterns were merely a studio camera trained on a printed card, most were generated by a special tube called a monoscope. It functioned in basically the same manner as a studio camera, but rather than scanning the incident light of a scene with an electron beam, the image was permanently etched into a thin aluminum plate. [Rich] laid hands on two vintage monoscope tubes, one containing the Indian Head test pattern, and set about building a device to use them. “The Chief” can hold either tube in a Faraday cage of thin, flexible PCB material and 3D-printed parts, with supporting electronics like the power supply and video amplifiers in an aluminum chassis below.
It’s a nice piece of work and a great lesson in how it used to be done, and the lithophane of the Indian head is a nice touch. Hats off to [The Lab Guy] for build quality and great documentation, including a detailed video series that starts with the video below. If you need a little more background on how video came to be, [Philo Farnsworth]’s story is a good place to start.
Continue reading “Vintage Monoscope Tubes Generate Classic TV Test Patterns Once Again” →