Put the Internet on Your TV!





Introduction: Put the Internet on Your TV!

A couple of weeks ago, Christy ( Canida ) handed me a silvery antistatic bag of goodness that can contain only one thing: Electronic fun! It was a kit from Adafruit Industries, and I was tasked with building it and using it, followed by making it into an Instructable. That would be this Instructable. Onward!

-Bradley Powers

Step 1: What You'll Need

1 YBox 2 Kit from Adafruit
1 Soldering Iron (I'd recommend an adjustable temp. iron set to 700° F)
1 Roll of Solder (preferably lead free, with rosin)
5 Electricity (for the soldering iron, later for the Ybox itself)
1 Computer (You don't need it, unless you want to configure anything on the Ybox. I strongly recommend a computer, as you might not care what the weather in Campbell, CA is like)
2 Internet (For the Ybox, and for the computer)
1 9V power supply from Adafruit
1 RCA Cable
1 Ethernet Cable
1 PCB Vise (recommended, you don't burn yourself as much. Unless you like that)
Some Love (All electronics projects require this)

Step 2: Check the Parts List.

So, the very first thing that you should do with any kit is to verify that you have everything. Sometimes, parts go missing (they're rather small, and sneaky. Very sneaky.) and have a tendency to hide from anti-static bags. With that said, you should dump the kit out on your table, (desk, bed, floor) and check the list to verify that you have all of your parts. If not, contact Ladyada She'll take care of you. If so, let's move on.

Step 3: Solder

There is a set of instructions here which are well written and easy to follow. Basically, you are taking all of the parts from the kit, and putting them together using solder and love. Be careful that your soldering job is done well, you can always remove a part and try again. Clip the leads on each part if they are long. I used some miniature Diagonal Cutters.

Step 4: Plug It In!

Ok, now that you have a YBox that is ready to go, plug in the Ethernet, RCA and power. You should see the bootloader screen for the YBox.

Step 5: Visit the YBox Online

That's right, your YBox is running its very own little webserver. Yaaay. Open up a web browser, and go to the IP address listed on the screen (Make sure you are connected to the same network as the Ybox). From here, you can configure the YBox to do your bidding.

Step 6: Upload New Programs

So, there are various programs for the YBox available here. You download these as precompiled binaries which you can then upload to the YBox. These include a Twitter Widget, an Alarm Clock widget, and others. You can also create your own widgets, but it is an involved process, and requires learning Spin (the Parallax Propellor's proprietary language) which is not in the scope of this Instructable.

This is how you upload programs from a Mac (Sadly (?) I do not know the specifics of this process on a PC, but you use curl from the command line there too). First, you open a terminal. This is located in /Applications/Utilities and is appropriately named Terminal. If you have never used terminal before, that's OK. Next, you need to change directory so that you can access the precompiled binary for the widget you want to use. I recommend you move that binary, which will be a .binary file, to your desktop. Then, in the terminal, you can type in:

cd Desktop

Then, to confirm that the command worked, type in:


Which should list all of the items on your desktop. If so, congrats! If not, try again.

Then, type in:

curl http://thingnumber1/stage2.eeprom -T thingnumber2.binary

Where thingnumber1 is the IP address of your Ybox, and thingnumber2.binary is the filename of the widget you wish to upload. Some lights should blink, and some dots should flash on your screen, and then your terminal will say 'Done' and some other junk. This means that the Ybox now has your widget.

Step 7: Restart Your YBox

By unplugging and plugging in your YBox. Then, bask in the glory of the program you uploaded!

Step 8: Rinse. Lather. Repeat.

Do cool stuff, learn spin, you can even put your Ybox in an Altoids tin. That was not supposed to rhyme. Ever.

Visit Adafruit Industries for more info, and more cool kits.



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    58 Discussions

    it's pretty good, but here's a much faster way....

    Plug the TV to the computer as a monitor, and then use the internet!

    LOL that was a joke....

    1 reply

    I've used Amiga 1200 and TV (as monitor) and surf internet in 1994!

    Well, YES!
    We need serial (RS232 port) dial-up modem or TFE (The Final Ethernet) C64 Ethernet Cartridge.
    And we got even 3 web-browsers for surfing: Hyperlink 2.5e, Contiki and Singular Browser 0.1!

    I prefer C4 myself. Nothing's better for entertainment than making things go BOOM!

    I am creating a little workshop in my basement (just starting out in electrical engineering), and I was wondering if by any chance you know what the best LCD (preferably from Adafruit, as they were the only place where I found the size I wanted) to hook up in a small space (not one of those small, 10 character two row things). By the way, wicked instructable. Thanks for posting it.

    3 replies

    Are you thinking like an LCD monitor, or a small LCD screen? If it's the latter, I like this one: http://www.adafruit.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath;=37&products;_id=250

    And this one: http://www.adafruit.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath;=37&products;_id=250

    You just have to pick whether you want white on black or black on green. That said, Sparkfun has a more impressive selection of screens like this PSP Screen (note, you'll need a relatively powerful microcontroll, think ARM7 or so, to drive this) http://www.sparkfun.com/commerce/product_info.php?products_id=8335 or this: http://www.sparkfun.com/commerce/product_info.php?products_id=710

    Let me know if you have any other questions, or if I didn't answer this one very well.

    Thank you. Best of luck with your Electronics workshop, and your electrical engineering endeavor. Let me know if there's anything else I can do to help.

    Brad Powers

    Here's another. This is not a waste of time. This is called doing something to learn. Sure, I could hook up a laptop to a TV, or use a Wii. But what will I have learned? Nothing. WIth this, I learned a new programming language, I refined my soldering skills, I wrote a killer program that parses html and displays arbitrary websites on the TV. While this did take me excessive amounts of time, I learned, I was able to share my new knowledge on this site, and I was able to make something amazing. How can you dismiss all that so easily?

    Wow brad what a way to stick it to them... most people forget that the name of this is isINSTRUCTABLES.COM and that great electronic engineers and hobbyists such as yourself do projects like this to learn, explore or just have fun. I give you big kudos for this instructable and your prrevious comment. KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK!

    Wow that's neat, How easily can you program it and in what language?

    so this can only view text from the web? no java,html,flash,asp,php,javascript, vbscript or anything else?

    2 replies

    No, that is only a sample program. Other 'widgets' can be written in parallax propeller spin and uploaded either via the ethernet or through a parallax PropPlug

    I really don't understand why you would spend the time to do this if you can just connect the TV to a computer.