Instructables

Video Fireplace for the Holidays

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Spend chilly winter evenings relaxing in front of the Video Fireplace!



The Video Fireplace is based on the Propeller Platform USB - it connects to your TV, re-creating a warm, inviting fire that you can stoke and add wood to. Features include:
  • Never runs out of wood Runs about 20 hours on 4xAA's or connect a power adapter to run continuously
  • Your fire, your rules Customize with your favorite holiday music, it can store hundreds of songs
  • Stoke away Stoke and 'Add Wood' buttons let you play with fire
  • Perfect for any occasion Video stored on SD card can be changed to suit any other holiday
  • No Cleanup Unlike burning 'real' wood, virtual wood burns without any ashes
  • Safe Doesn't generate any heat or smoke
  • Easy Compatible with any TV that has a composite video (i.e., RCA jack) connection
I built the Video Fireplace because I enjoy the Christmas morning 'Yule Log' show on T.V., but didn't really like the music or the commercials. Continue to the next step and I'll answer some questions, then I'll show you how to make your own!
 
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Step 1: FAQ

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How does it work?
The Propeller Platform merges fireplace video segments based on user input, and plays it back. When the user wants to add wood, videos flagged 'Wood-adding' get merged in. And when the user wants to stoke the fire, stoking videos get merged in. These videos are prepared beforehand — they're categorized, transcoded, and stored on a microSD card that serves as the video library for the Propeller. The result is a fairly seamless fire that the you can also interact with.

What if I don't like fire?
The video files can be changed to whatever you want. After we build it, I'll show you how to swap videos and customize how they're merged together.

Can I do anything else with it?
Yes! About half the Propeller Platform is idle during playback, and 21 I/O pins are free, so you could add Ethernet, a servo, a sensor, or anything else and use it while playing video. Or you could use a sensor or switch to change video streams — lots of possibilities.

What's the audio / video quality?
The resolution is 80x96 at about 25 frames per second. Audio playback is in mono. The Propeller is capable of much higher resolutions, but you'd probably have to take a different approach to transcoding and the code would need to run in assembly.

How long do the batteries last?
About twenty hours with four AA's. A higher capacity battery will extend playback, or you could use a power adapter. If you skip the voltage regulators and run 3.3V directly to the Propeller, you'll also extend run time.

How does it hook up to my TV?
Video signals are composite, a.k.a., through the yellow RCA jack. Almost every TV made has the Yellow - Red - White RCA jacks. The signal generated is NTSC. Experienced Propeller programmers could also change the output to VGA, an LCD panel, PAL, or other display type.

The project is open source, and uses several Propeller objects including fsrw, spudview, and rayman's audio player. I'll go over the program shortly, but here's the source if you're in a rush.
Winged Fist2 years ago
Great idea! You should consider entering this in this week's "Fire Challenge"... It might just be accepted....
kyleslab2 years ago
Sweetness! I am making one of these.
I love stuff like this.