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How to Hack Together a TV Celebrity Silencer

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 27 comments

This might solve the Snookie problem once and for all.

For those of us working from home, television is useful resource for news and monotony-breaking entertainment, but 24-hour a day programming quickly runs out of real content. To fill the remaining hours of space, we get hours and hours of reality TV stars, burnout celebs and the latest annoying non-scandal scandal and other basically pointless information. If your job requires to you keep the TV on it can be maddening having to sift through filler on the way to actual news.

Make Magazine editor Matt Richardson feels the same way. Tired of hearing about “Donald Trump’s feud with whomever or Charlie Sheen’s most recent rant,” he came up with an ingenious solution to the problem that can be easily duplicated with a little effort and a trip to Radio Shack. With a couple of Arduino boards and a Nootropic Video Experimenter Shield, he hacked his TV signal and decoded the closed-captioning transmission track. Then, with an original code linked to a cleverly repurposed infrared LED, the device he built sends a signal to his TV remote that activates mute for 30 seconds, every time certain keywords are spoken.

It isn't a perfect solution. You're going to have a lot of cables running between computer and TV, and closed-captioning doesn't always sync up perfectly, which means, as you'll see in the video Richardson posted to Make, an initial use of the forbidden word might slip past the system. But if you have less than a hundred bucks and some patience, it's a pretty elegant solution to a problem that might otherwise be solved only be throwing your TV out the window.

You can see more, including the specific components and codes, over at Make Magazine.

Arduino celebrity silencer

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Top Comments
  • 16 Hide
    back_by_demand , September 9, 2011 3:33 PM
    Problem is, if you programmed it to mute for all the useless crap on TV it would only be unmuted for about 4 minutes every day.
Other Comments
  • 4 Hide
    christop , September 9, 2011 3:13 PM
    Nice I would love this for commercials.
  • 1 Hide
    bak0n , September 9, 2011 3:27 PM
    Just wait. The media will find a way to sue over this.
  • Display all 27 comments.
  • -4 Hide
    lp231 , September 9, 2011 3:28 PM
    So if CC is enabled, you won't hear the words that's filtered, but you are still going to read it?
  • 5 Hide
    beardguy , September 9, 2011 3:33 PM
    He probably did it becuase he could more than anything else. Glad to see someone put their brain to use.
  • 16 Hide
    back_by_demand , September 9, 2011 3:33 PM
    Problem is, if you programmed it to mute for all the useless crap on TV it would only be unmuted for about 4 minutes every day.
  • 1 Hide
    beardguy , September 9, 2011 3:34 PM
    One a side note: How about entering keywords that would turn your TV on (or unmute it) everytime something of interest came on? That would be cool.
  • 0 Hide
    billybobser , September 9, 2011 3:55 PM
    Re: beardguy

    Yes, if you had specific interest areas, such as finance. But for a broader real news use, you'd had to know interesting stories before they arose to know keywords for it.
  • -1 Hide
    clonazepam , September 9, 2011 3:57 PM
    ^ its so rare, you'd miss it.
  • 0 Hide
    clonazepam , September 9, 2011 3:58 PM
    You used to be able to leave CNN on all day and not have to worry, but they're just as bad these days with all the stupid Apple, Snookie reports, etc...
  • 2 Hide
    gnookergi , September 9, 2011 4:03 PM
    lp231So if CC is enabled, you won't hear the words that's filtered, but you are still going to read it?


    You don't need to have it on to get the data you need.
  • 0 Hide
    back_by_demand , September 9, 2011 4:08 PM
    Does this only work for the channel you are on or could it work for the raw feed of all the channels you subscribe to?

    If so you could turn it round and have it look for certain keywords of interest and change channels when it arrives.
  • 1 Hide
    nbelote , September 9, 2011 4:08 PM
    CC is embedded regardless of whether or not you have it turned on, it's that stream that he's extracting data from.
  • 5 Hide
    retrig , September 9, 2011 4:09 PM
    I think the real shocker of this article is that people actually still watch the news on TV.
  • 2 Hide
    steelbox , September 9, 2011 4:12 PM
    lp231So if CC is enabled, you won't hear the words that's filtered, but you are still going to read it?

    "...he hacked his TV signal and decoded the closed-captioning transmission track."
    He didn't enabled the CC at all, prior to the signal reaching the TV the little aparatus decodes the signal's CC "track", when certain words appear it send a signal to the remote controler whitch actives the mute.
  • -1 Hide
    clonazepam , September 9, 2011 4:41 PM
    retrigI think the real shocker of this article is that people actually still watch the news on TV.


    Watching local news here will always be better than trying to read the local paper. It's a minefield of typos, misspellings, and continuations on other pages completely disappearing =/
  • -2 Hide
    masterasia , September 9, 2011 5:01 PM
    what a waste of time.
  • 0 Hide
    BlackHawk91 , September 9, 2011 5:55 PM
    With the poor TV content in my country, it is better to keep the tv off.
  • 3 Hide
    CaedenV , September 9, 2011 6:33 PM
    Wait... intelligent people actually watch TV anymore? Here I thought we were all enlightened enough to get all our news from Toms Hardware!
  • 2 Hide
    rosen380 , September 9, 2011 6:34 PM
    back_by_demandDoes this only work for the channel you are on or could it work for the raw feed of all the channels you subscribe to?If so you could turn it round and have it look for certain keywords of interest and change channels when it arrives.


    Back when I had my all-in-wonder pro card, it had software that would do exactly that. You put in some keywords and it would flip to those stations when they came up.
  • -1 Hide
    rjq , September 9, 2011 6:44 PM
    Why in the world would somebody look for a commercial station not wanting to see commercial content???? change it to PBS, better, easier and cheaper hack, and for the office public radio any one?....
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