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Illuminate Yaletown

February 21, 2009
A Glowing Orb

A Glowing Orb

Tonight I went to check out the Illuminate Yaletown festival here in Vancouver. It was a one-night-only collection of various light art installations; everything from projections to LED arrays to fire breathing to illuminated ice sculptures. My favorite pieces were generally the interactive ones. Here are a few that stood out:

Light–Graffiti

This display was put on by Eos Lightmedia. It allowed people to use a touch screen set up with a paint program that projected their creations onto the Opus Hotel building. I’ve seen a bunch of projects like this online, by groups such as Graffiti Research Labs, but this was the first time I’d seen something like this live. Very cool indeed.

Bunny Graffiti

Bunny Graffiti

Erica Light Graffiti

Erica Light Graffiti

Graffiti Touchscreen

Graffiti Touchscreen

Light Beat

Created by Tangible Interaction, this installation allowed people to light a series of inflatible orbs to the beat of their heart. I’ve seen a few heartbeat projects before, one in Toronto which projected your heartbeat over the city using massive spotlights, but this one was still cool.

Heartbeat Sensor

Heartbeat Sensor

Inflatable Heartbeat Orbs

Inflatable Heartbeat Orbs

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If it’s free, it’s me. A DTV coat hanger antenna.

February 21, 2009
My DTV antenna

Coat hanger antenna. It isn't pretty, but it works.

When I first moved to Vancouver, I was considering getting a full HD Cable package from Shaw Cable. But the HD box was around $400, not to mention the monthly charges. For the amount of TV that I watch, it just wasn’t worth it. Most of the content that I want to watch is available online to download, which I can stream through my Xbox 360.  That setup has served me well, except for live events; mainly news and sports.  Recently I came across a project on Make TV that showed you how to build an antenna capable of receiving over-the-air HDTV programming.

The antenna is built from six wire coat hangers, a piece of wood, some screws with washers and a 75-300 ohm transformer. What self-respecting geek could possibly pass up building a home made antenna from coat hangers?

I was hoping to use a piece of wood from an abandoned shipping pallet sitting in the alley beside my building but the salvageable pieces from that would have been an inch or two too short to use. So I broke down and bought some wood.

75-300 ohm transformer

75-300 ohm transformer

The 75-300 ohm transformer is the only part that you probably don’t have laying around the house or local hardware store. They sell it for $4.99 at Circuit City, but I scored one for $1.00 at a local dollar store. It has spade connectors on one end that connects to the coat hangers on the antenna and a female F connector on the other end to hook up to your TV.

Here in Vancouver the local TV stations all broadcast from the top of Mount Seymour. The digital channels are broadcast in UHF, which this antenna is designed to receive. My apartment faces the mountain, with the top just visible over some of the taller buildings downtown. After building the antenna and plugging it in indoors, I was only able to receive HD CBC. When I put it outside on my balcony, I was able to grab the other two HD stations: CTV and Global.

HD Jeopardy action.

HD Jeopardy action.

Want to build your own? Check out these videos and plans:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EWQhlmJTMzw

http://blog.makezine.com/archive/2009/01/maker_workshop_dtv_antenna_steadyca.html

Here’s some info about Mount Seymour broadcasting:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Seymour#TV_stations