Browsing the May 2018 issue of Circuit Cellar there’s this ‘Kommercial Killer’ project – it’s great, and not only because it uses an Adafruit Trinket! It’s not ‘universal’ like the TV-B-Gone but instead is a one-off device that you ‘train’ to your TVs IR signals, for the purpose of silencing the TV unit when a commercial comes on with the push of a button. Basically a glorified MUTE button, but with a bit more brains involved. There’s a default countdown timer of 3 minutes, so the device will reinitiate your TV’s audio after the countdown completes — of course that time duration can be adjusted in code. But what’s really surprising about this project is how it shows you to chop the PCB from a $4 ‘learning remote’ to train the Kommercial Killer to do its thing – basically using the guts from a cheap, $4 remote for training, learning, and building an entirely new project! I love this approach to slicing PCBs and using the ready-made parts from them to frankenstein into another project. This process could be easily modified and applied to other ideas and project builds.
Oh and if that wasn’t enough the designer made a custom OSH Park purple PCB design for easy project replication 🙂
Ever wish you could block out those annoying TV ads? Tommy describes in detail how he built a device for easily muting the audio of commercials. His project relies on three modules: a UHF radio receiver, an IR module and an Arduino Trinket board.
By Tommy Tyler
Does your blood start to boil as soon as one of those people on TV tries to sell you precious metals, a reverse mortgage, a miraculous kitchen gadget or an incredible weight reduction plan? Do you want to climb the wall the next time someone says “But wait! Order now and get a second one free . . .“? Believe it or not, there was a time long ago when TV commercials were actually entertaining. That was before commercial breaks evolved from 30 second or one-minute interruptions into strings of a half-dozen or more advertisements linked end-to-end for three to five minutes—sometimes with the exact same commercial shown twice in the same group! What is perhaps most annoying is the relentless repetition.
Historically, all the feeble attempts at TV commercial elimination have been applied to recordings on VCRs or DVRs. Anyone who watches programming that’s best enjoyed when viewed in real-time—news, weather and sports—has probably wished at one time or another for a device that can enable them to avoid commercials. They long for a device that could be inserted between their TV and the program source—whether it be cable, satellite or an OTA antenna—to instantly recognize a commercial and blank the screen, change channels or somehow make it go away. The technology for doing that does exist, but you’ll probably never find it applied to consumer products. Since funding of the entire television broadcast industry is derived from paid advertisements, any company that interferes with that would face enormous opposition and legal problems.
After many years of searching the Internet I’ve concluded it is wishful thinking to expect anyone to market a product that automatically eliminates commercials in real-time. I decided to work instead on the next-best approach I could think of: A device that makes it quick and easy to minimize the nuisance of commercials with the least amount of manual effort possible. This article describes a “Kommercial Killer (KK)” that is controlled by a small radio transmitter you carry with you so it’s easily and instantly accessible. No scrambling to find that clumsy infrared remote control and aim it at the TV when a commercial starts. Just press the personal button that’s always with you, even while remaining warm and cozy curled up under a blanket.