Solar TV-B-Gone

Introduction: Solar TV-B-Gone

Ever wish that your kids would go out and play instead of watch another episode of Captain Planet?!  Especially when it's nice and sunny outside and the sprinklers aren't firing reclaimed water?  Me too!

Well, now you and your little rascals can achieve better recreation through technology.  Say hello to the SOLAR TV-B-GONE.  

The TV-B-Gone was dreamed up and made real by Mitch Altman -- I'm sure many of you reading this post no doubt have a small altar to Mitch in his or her workshop.  I know I do.  Mitch did a wonderful service by giving the average joe and jane a way to make some mayhem while on coffee break.  The problem is, the TV-B-Gone still required a human being to push a button to power down all of the CNN blaring monitors in SFO.  And the original device uses batteries, which is a bummer.  

Now, with the Solar TV-B-Gone, no human button-pusher needed.  When the sun comes up, all the TVs in the vicinity will go off.  No batteries needed either.  Sun up.  TV down.  Hide this little piece of tech somewhere it can get some rays, and be free of TV on sunny days.  Just shrug your shoulders when someone asks what's going on.  I don't know, but I hear an ice cream truck coming round the corner!

It's a big bright beautiful tomorrow, shining at the end of every day....

1. Solar-Square (1-2 pcs)
2. Proto-Square (1 pc)
3. TV-B-Gone Kit (1 pc)
4. 100 ohm thru-hole resistor (or something close) (1 pc)
5.  100mF 5.5V Super-capacitor (1 pc)
6.  White thru-hole LED (1 pc)
7.  A couple paperclips


1.  Soldering iron
2.  Snips
3.  A test TV

Step 1: Hardware

This Instructable is a combination of creations from Mitch Altman (via Adafruit) and B-Squares.  

Order your TV-B-Gone kit here:

While you're at it, you'll need a Solar B-Square (or two) and a Proto B-Square, available here*:

And you'll need to buy a supercapacitor, 100ohm resistor, and white LED.

*Disclosure: You may have noticed, but this is a B-Squares Instructables account.  So, we make things with B-Squares, and try to sell some to other folks as well.  

Step 2: Assemble the TV-B-Gone

Follow the TV-B-Gone assembly steps here:

With two exceptions:

1. Rather than power the kit with batteries, you are going to snip some wire length from the battery pack that came with the TV-B-Gone kit, and then solder a set paperclips onto the wire lengths, as pictured.  Keep the battery pack for testing the assembled TV-B-Gone prior to solarization, and for future projects.

2.  You won't need the push switch either.  Instead, you are going to solder an electrical short across the switch PCB traces, so that when the TV-B-Gone receives enough power, it will turn on without a button press.

Step 3: Assemble the Proto-Square With Basic Energy Buffer

In order to keep the voltage at a safe range for the TV-B-Gone, and to provide some limited energy buffer to the device during intermittent clouds, solder together the 100ohm resistor, white LED, and 100mF 5.5V supercapacitor into the Proto-Square.  

The 100ohm resistor and the white LED are in series, and these two elements are put in parallel with the supercapacitor and the (+) and (-) corner contacts of the Proto-Square.  Also, short across the resistor slot in two locations in the Proto-Square to enable all corner contacts to connect with the circuit.

Step 4: Connect the Squares and Snap-on the TV-B-Gone

Now, all that's left to do is snap together the Solar-Square and Proto-Square and then clip on the TV-B-Gone via the paperclips.  The Squares have corner contacts that are magnetic, so the paperclips should just grab onto the contacts and power up the TV-B-Gone circuit if it's sunny enough.

Important note:  The (+) signs on the Squares should align.  Same goes for the (+) sign on the TV-B-Gone.  All positives to positives.

Both the white LED that you soldered onto the Proto-Square and the green LED on the TV-B-Gone PCB should flash when operating.  When testing this unit in the workshop, it magically changed the speed of the fan that I was using to cool the Solar Square under a simple test halogen light source.  

And that's it!  Now you have an autonomous TV-eliminating solar-powered machine!  Stick it on a window behind a couch in your living room; hide it behind a mannequin in a department store; stow behind the fish tank in your local Chinese restaurant that always has bad soap operas playing over lunch.  

Possible Improvements:

This system may work better with an Arduino or Arduino-Square in the mix, which could control the power into the TV-B-Gone.  This way, the power could be delivered in short bursts (like a blinking LED), which the TV-B-Gone circuit seems to respond to more reliably.

Also, rather than a white LED, a 3-4V zener diode could drop the voltage of the Solar-Square to a safe <5V for the TV-B-Gone.  This zener could be just magnetically clipped onto a couple toes of one of the Squares, as long as it is clipped in the correct orientation.

And/or, a BEAM 1381 Solar Engine could cycle the power delivered to the TV-B-Gone, for truly confounding all those in the TV-viewing vicinity.  

Any other ideas?  Did this work for you? 


Mitch Altman and Cornfield Electronics

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    2 Discussions

    @Matt..... I do believe that the chip in the TV-Begone (an ATtiny variant) has a self shutdown (either soft-coded or hard-coded in the design of the chip)... if not I'm sure that the code could be redesigned to turn off after one cycle.... Maybe you could even add a RTC (Real Time Clock) and set up some sort of solar power system... (kind of like a really fancy solar garden light.... that has an on board clock....) Then one could even program the chip to turn off the TVs during certain times even when it's dark or cloudy.... Though this would add complexity to the design, I do not think it would be too hard... though the size of the project would be a bit bigger.... making it less hide-able.....


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Great to see this project! I've been thinking of a similar thing. But the problem I came up with was how does the autonomous tvbgone know if a tv is off or not?

    The way I understand this project to work, the tv will be continuously cycling on and off. What I want is an autonomous system that only turns off a tv.