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20 Nov 2005: Controlling a Plasma Screen via the Internet

Earlier this year I finally got around to buying a replacement TV, and settled on a Hitachi PD7200 plasma. First thing I noticed was a port on the back labelled 'service use only' which sounded like a fun challenge.

service use only

Turns out that on the Hitachi PD7200 plasma this is a serial port that is enabled by default, so you just need to know the right protocol and you can talk to the plasma. I don't have a PC close to the plasma, but last year I did buy some Lantronix MSS100 devices which have a 10/100 ethernet connection at one end, and a serial RS232 port at the other. I was't quite sure what I'd use them for, but for under 50 pounds each they seemed like a bargain at the time.

serial to parallel converter

Hitachi technical support replied to my query within hours and sent me a couple of PDF documents outlining the protocol, so this was going to be much easier than guesswork.

Knowing the filename, google found this online version, Hitachi control protocol, pdf

A small amount of perl later, and I had script that could query the TV to find out various things (settings, channel, and interestingly the number of hours the TV has been on since it started life). The script can also get the TV to do various things like turn itself on and off and select channels.

Download Hitachi Plasma control (perl, 2k)

So now I have to think of a use for this. I guess I could get the TV to change channels when some event occurs (like one of the motion sensors triggering) or perhaps daily grab the TV panel lifetime to see how many hours of TV we watch a day (and perhaps what channels). Perhaps I could automatically dim the lights and select cinema mode if the channel is changed to DVD (although I could do that just using a programmable remote). I'm sure I'll think of a use for this eventually, but it was a fun diversion for a cold and wet Scottish weekend.

Created: 20 Nov 2005
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Hi! I'm Mark Cox. This blog gives my thoughts and opinions on my security work, open source, fedora, home automation, and other topics.