I’m not a cord cutter, but I play one with my TV

The Problem: Here’s the scenario. We have DirecTV with five boxes that includes DVR services. But only three boxes can be active at the same time. The fourth and fifth boxes can remain in the cold while three TV’s are occupied. And only so much recording can happen at one time with similar limitations.

We have a household with three adults and a 10 year old. The 10 year old believes the best way for something to happen is repeated random button smashing, because a half second delay is too much delay. He never lived in the days where dad’s used kids as remotes. “Go change it to channel 3”.

So, what’s that mean? It means that sometimes, I’m unable to watch or record what I want due to the competition of resources or the errors of button smashing that arbitrarily records or deletes things.

Continue reading “I’m not a cord cutter, but I play one with my TV”

Halloween Projection Setup on a Budget

I was strolling my local building supply store and ran across one of those pre-packaged window projection set ups for roughly $150.

I was interested because I like gadgets and I enjoy Halloween decorating. As I examined the contents, it was pretty clear it was a simple inexpensive digital projector, a projection material and a quality DVD for content. Incredibly simple. But, being the budget

I made a mental note to take a look when I got home to comparison shop and promised myself that if I could do it for less than $100, I’d do it.
Fast forward to that evening and I was YouTubing, Googling, and web shopping all over the place to do cost comparisons. The project seemed incredibly simple especially with the drop in consumer projector prices. The projector, the screen material and the content.

I found a simple digital projector that came in around $40 that seemed to have decent reviews. COOQI Mini Portable Pocket Projector Home Theater Support 1080p White/Yellow is the name of what I got and it was less than $43.00 delivered. By the time this blog entry gets out there, another make or model could be great at that price point.

For projection I bought a cheap frosted thin shower curtain liner large enough to cover the window I intend to use. That was less than $5.00.

For content, search on YouTube for ‘Halloween Projection Loop’. All kinds of options pop up and many of them are long or you can pile a bunch in a row in your ‘Watch List’.

Now, let’s go through the parts and put it all together.

I have a room in my house with no windows so I could do testing in a dark place. Testing the projector showed me it was just the ticket. It provides the option of connecting via HDMI, USB, Micro-SD card or via a pig tail with old style audio visual connectors. With that variety of options, you should be able to find some form of connection that works.

I mounted the Cooqi on a tripod and started projecting on one of my walls. I used a Raspberry Pi with Kodi, an Ubuntu laptop running YouTube, I used a USB stick on the USB port, I used a ChromeCast with YouTube and they all worked fine. My biggest challenge was maneuvering in the dark while switching things up. The image was good enough once it was focused.

Next I opened up the cheap shower curtain liner and suspended it on an old compression curtain rod. Not the perfect arrangement, but it was just the ticket.

Then I realized that Happy Halloween was displaying backwards as it would be seen outside. But that was easily addressed by using the menu to flip the video display and everything came out just right.

Next, was choosing YouTube videos. My preferred method of setting everything up was to use a Google ChromeCast on the HDMI port. I started the video up with my Chromebook casting the YouTube video and then just let it go. It worked great.

I did try using the ChromeCast powered by the built in USB port and that didn’t work. I used an external USB power supply and everything worked fine.

When Halloween arrives, I’ll fold over the top of the curtain, secure it with tape and cut it to size. I’ll probably take a few pictures when I have it set up.

Happy Halloween.