Tin Foil Hat For Your Media Center

So, I finally got the living room “media center” working again.

The setup is really cool now. We have 2 set-top satellite boxes hooked up (yes, 2. don’t ask.), one goes directly to the TV and the other one hooked through an infrared blaster to the HTPC running Vista with the Windows Media Center.

(And yes, I will ignore any comment about how bad Vista or Windows Media Center are, and recommending that I switch to Ubuntu with XBMC. Mentioning Boxee is ok though).

And so, when she couldn’t watch Desperate Housewives “live”, I told her with great confidence – hey, what’s the problem, you can simply *record* it.

Only a day later did we discover that despite contrary claims made with a piece of duct tape, switching channels using the remote control for set-top #1 is also switching channels in set-top #2 – the one hooked up to the media center. The one that was recording Desperate Housewives. Oops.

So, how does one make sure that the remote control only affects set-top #1, and the IR Blaster affects only set-top #2?

Initially I figured that if duct tape didn’t do the trick, what I need to do is to apply more duct tape. I quickly found out that I own a remote control on steroids – one that can penetrate through any number of layers of duct tape:


If duct tape isn’t enough, I figured, then the solution is obvious. I need to add cardboard to the equation. I cut out a piece of thin cardboard and attached it (using duct tape of course) over the IR sensor area.

Alas, my super-remote-control blasted its powerful infrared ray through the cardboard and into the sensor.

Now, given the stakes at hand, I knew this is a battle that must be won, regardless of the casualties. And so I set out to build the ultimate IR defense system, made of lots of duct tape and lots of cardboard:


The ray still went through. But now not only my wife, but also my 7th months old daughter was looking at me with a puzzled look. Failure was not an option. So I added more cardboard:


And still it went through.

Suddenly, failure *was* an option.

And then it hit me. If tin foil hats are powerful enough to stop aliens from peeking into our brain, they must be able powerful enough to stop the super powerful infrared ray! And so I set out to build a tin foil hat that will, at the same time, encapsulate the IR blaster and protect the IR sensor from the evil bionic remote control infrared ray:


Phew. This actually worked.


The lesson? Tin Foil Hats are a must for early adapters. Who knows when you’ll need protection from an extra strong evil infrared ray.

Who knows, maybe I am just an innovator and soon enough every house hold will have its own anti-infrared-set-top-tin-foil-hat!