Way Background

Humor and irony are, for me, a major source of inspiration. Half of what I do is to amuse myself. And hopefully it amuses others, too.

Let’s say I like to put the fun back in function. The idea is that part of an object's function is its ability to please its user, even if that pleasure comes from a joke.

Analog TV Digital Picture Frame

Even the name, analog-digital, is a little funny.

Not-Quite-So-Far Background… or Just “Background”

I've always been interested in new technology that could have existed years ago. That is, new applications of old technology. The household TV, for example, could have been used since the ‘80s to display family pictures. Imagine, if you will, a service where you send in photos and they record them to a tape that you can play back on your VCR.

So I made one. Sort of. Let’s call it a “looks alike” more than a “works alike.” Here’s a goofy video of it on Flickr.


This particular implementation was made with a readily available single board computer about the size of a credit card—the Raspberry Pi—then paired with an RF modulator since this TV did not have composite input. The system wirelessly downloads new photos from a photo set on my Flickr account from time to time and adds them to a folder on an SD card whose JPG contents are displayed on the screen in a random order.

So, as you can see, the nice photos of this project look nice. But that’s because I hid the nasty stuff. Even then, I’m kind of proud of my wiring harness which I just bound together with twist-ties. But with a little more work and planning, I’m sure you could do a much better job.

As you can see in this hey-look-how-cute-I-am sketch, there’s not much to this thing. Pi video out to TV through RF modulator:

Here’s how it looks in real life… much less cute:

The software part of this job is similar; just script-kiddie a bunch of code together and you’re done. (Consider that a placeholder for actual instructions which I’ve yet to write up because I need to refresh everything for the latest OS, APIs, etc.) In the meantime, you can go check out this project on GitHub to get the code. And you’ll see there that it’s no joke on the script kiddieing… a fellow named Samuel Clay did all the work already. But I can be forgiven, I hope; I’m no programmer.

Future Ground

So what do I have in store for this project? How can I make it better? Well, you saw that rat’s nest, so the first thing should be repackaging this thing inside the TV. As I’m thinking about it, if that’s the first thing, then I think the zeroth thing will be to just update everything and clean up whatever bugs that process introduces. Skipping back up to the second thing, I’d like to power this gadget inside the TV downstream of the switch so it turns on with the TV. This also means that back in step zero I need to set these scripts to run when the Raspberry Pi boots. (Yes, the current version is so hackey that I need to plug in a keyboard to fire up the pictures.)

If someone else beats me to all this, great. I’d love to see it.