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.

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Count YouTube Subscribers with this Red Play Button Award

Professional YouTubers live and die by the number of subscribers they have. It seems like a brutal way to make a living to us, but to each his own. Still, if you’re going to do it, you might as well do it right, and keeping track of how you’re doing with this Play Button Award subscriber counter might make sense. Or it might drive you nuts.

YouTuber [ibuynewstuff] has reached the vaunted 100,000 subscriber mark, the number required to earn the Silver Play Button award. Sadly, 100k is the bare minimum needed to get YouTube’s attention, and tales of waiting for months for the award to arrive are not uncommon. [ibuynewstuff] worked around the issue by 3D-printing his own temporary play button badge. Mounted to a picture frame with an ESP8266 and an 8 x 80 LED display behind a diffuser, [ibuynewstuff] can keep track of his progress toward the Gold Play Button award at 1,000,000 subs. Hopefully, his Silver award will arrive before then.

Want to replicate this but would rather have something a little more permanent than a plastic play button? Try casting your own Copper Play Button award.

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Live Stream to YouTube by Pointing a Box and Pressing a Button

YouTube has the ability to do live streaming, but [Tinkernut] felt that the process could be much more straightforward. From this desire to streamline was born the Raspberry Pi based YouTube live streaming camera. It consists of a Raspberry Pi with some supporting hardware and it has one job: to make live streaming as simple as pointing a box and pressing a button. The hardware is mostly off-the-shelf, and once all the configuration is done the unit provides a simple touchscreen based interface to preview, broadcast live, and shut down. The only thing missing is a 3D printed enclosure, which [Tinkernut] says is in the works.

Getting all the software configured and working was surprisingly complex. Theoretically only a handful of software packages and functionality are needed, but there were all manner of gotchas and tweaks required to get everything to play nice and work correctly. Happily, [Tinkernut] has documented the entire process so others can benefit. The only thing the Pi is missing is a DIY onboard LED lighting and flash module.

Swedish Rocket Knives

There are trends in YouTube videos among various video producers. A few weeks ago, it was all about fidget spinners until some niche tech blog ran that meme into the ground. Before that, the theme was red-hot knives cutting through stuff. The setup was simple; just heat a knife up with a blowtorch, cut through a tomato or golf ball, hit stop on the high-speed camera, and collect that sweet, sweet YouTube money.

[David] from RCExplorer.se isn’t like most YouTube stars. He actually knows what he’s doing. When the latest trend of rocket-propelled knives hit the tubes, he knew he could blow this out of the water. He succeeded with a fantastic rocket-propelled machete able to slice through watermelons and fling itself into the woods behind [David]’s house.

Unlike most of the other YouTube stars trying their hand at rocket-powered slicers, [David] is doing this one right. He’s using hobby rocket motors, yes, but they’re reloadable. [David] crafted an engine casing complete with a proper nozzle machined out of stainless for this build. The rocket sled itself is an aluminum bracket bolted to a piece of carbon fiber plate that travels down a rail with the help of four skateboard wheels. A machete is then bolted to the plate, which is propelled down the track a bit faster than 200 km/h.

When it comes to rocket-propelled knives, the word ‘professional’ really doesn’t come into play. This, however, is an amazing piece of craftsmanship that you can check out in the videos below.

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Filaween 2.0 is Go

[Thomas Sanladerer] is at it again: testing all of the 3D-printer filaments that are fit to print (with). And this year, he’s got a new and improved testing methodology — video embedded below. And have a search for “filaween2” to see what he’s reviewed so far. There’s some sexy filaments in there.

We really love the brand-new impact strength test, where a hammer is swung on a pivot (3D printed, natch), breaks through the part under test, and swings back up to a measurable height. The difference in swing height reflects the amount of energy required to break the test piece. Sweet physics.

[Thomas] ran a similar few-month-long series last year, and we’re stoked to see it return with all the improvements. Here’s to watching oddball plastics melt!

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A Chrome Extension for Being a Jerk

What do you do to someone you want to make suffer, slowly? Specifically, at around 70% speed. To [Stephen], the answer is clear, you hit them where it really hurts: YouTube.

Creatively named “Chrome Engine,” [Stephen]’s diabolical Chrome extension has one purpose: be annoying. Every day, it lowers playback rate by 1% on YouTube. It’s a linear progression: 100% the first day, 99% the second day, 98% the third day, etc. It only stops 30 days later, once it hits its target rate of 70% the original speed. This progression is designed to be slow enough not to be noticed. Its icon is nothing more than the standard Chrome icon as [Stephen] firmly believes in the tactic of hiding in plain sight.

But that’s not all, it’s the minute details that drive the ball home. For instance, rather than using local storage to keep track of playback speed, the Chrome sync storage is used. This ensures that, as long as the extension is installed, playback rate will be synchronized between all of your friend’s(if you can even call them that) devices. It even targets casual YouTube users: [Stephen] has specifically designed their extension so that it won’t drop playback by more than 1% at a time. If the victim goes on vacation, the playback speed won’t drop when they’re away and will resume as soon as they’re back.

The last feature, the one [Stephen] is the proudest of, is that the extension manages to keep the YouTube speed controls working as intended. If the victim tries to play at half speed, their videos will be at half speed … of the slower playback rate set by the extension. And it gets even better! You may not know this if you don’t dally around with playback rates, but the audio tends to stop playing when videos are reduced below 50% of their original speed. Fear not! [Stephen] has accounted for this idiosyncrasy! If the victim selects a speed at or above 0.5x, a minimum cap is added so that the actual playback rate will be equal to or above 0.5x. If they select slower than this, they don’t expect sound anyway, so all bets are off.

Check it out here, may your friends (frenemies?) beware. We’re adding it to our April Fools arsenal, even if it is a bit early.

Meet the Video DJ Machine

Have you ever wanted to perform as a DJ but found the equipment expensive as well as intimidating? Well, your prayers have been answered by [Dror Ayalon] who has designed Nomnom 2. It is an open source, music mixing project that uses up to 16 video clips to give you control of your next hit album.

You are given charge of a physical control panel that has 16 buttons and four knobs. Each button can be used to turn on or off a particular clip while the knobs control the repetition rate, volume, speed and playable length of each track. An Arduino sits under the buttons and is responsible for sending the information to an application that runs in your web browser. The browser app uses the NexusUI library to control playback of the audio clips and bring to life the entire experience.

[Dror Ayalon] has been busy polishing his project and there are some neat videos of him demonstrating it so check out the videos below. The code is available for down from GitHub and the BOM is available at the Hackaday.io project page. The web app can be ported to a desktop app using electron and a PCB can be designed for the controller for future versions.

For now, it is incredible to see hardware and software, come together in such a harmonious fashion. This may be the start of something wonderful but if you are just looking for a way to annoy the neighbors, check out the Midi Musical Siren instead. Continue reading “Meet the Video DJ Machine”