Photo Channel

The photo channel came to me when I saw a picture frame in a catalog that used an LCD panel to display digital pictures. Unfortunately this solution required hooking to a phone line to dial out and download pictures from a service. This annoyed me greatly. So After thinking about it a while, I decide I really didn’t have spare wall space anyway. Why not take an old scan converter and a modulator and insert a channel on my cable system in the house. So after purchasing a bandpass filter to make sure I wasn’t re-transmitting out on the city cable system, I set in. The photo channel consists of numerous pieces, some of with really aren’t necessary, they were just added to see if I could incorporate some of the old hardware laying around the house. The systems consists of the following hardware:

  • Bandpass filter (to keep my signal from going back out on the cable system for the town, as well as to give me a clean range of channels to insert into)
  • Modulator (to convert the signal form the scan converter to a channel the TV’s in the house can pick up)
  • Scan Converter (to convert the VGA output to a signal usable by the modulator)
  • IBM Netstation (the machine used for actually displaying the pictures)

The pictures reside on the file server’s hard drive. This also gave me the ability to display the same pictures on the web site in the photo gallery. The picture directory is accessed by a daemon running on the file server that periodically sends a new picture to the netstation. This eats a little processor power on the file server but not enough to really worry about. By doing it that way, I discovered I could control the picture selection from an RF X10 remote. Now I can switch from slide show to slide showat the touch of a button anywhere in the house. After watching the pictures for a while I became aware that I was missing another great feature available by using the TV. I made a couple quick changes to the wiring on the MP3 server, and now the audio form the MP3 server plays over the photo channel. Having done this I decided that it would be nice to have the artist and song title display on the channel too. This was easily accomplished by writing a daemon in perl that monitors the log file of IRMP3 When the song title changes, the daemon displays the artist and song title on screen. There is an API available to add this directly into IRMP3 but I didn’t feel like learning it at the time of creation. At some point in the future I will rewrite the daemon to make it a plugin to IRMP3. This project was a great success at Christmas. I snapped pictures throughout the day and copied them (via Samba) to a directory for the photo channel Then family who came later could see pictures from earlier. As you may have guessed I setup a Christmas music playlist on the mp3 server and had that playing for an added effect.