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Hardware Hump Day: The Oscar Shh-tatue

Give chatty friends the hint with the Oscar Shh-tatue!

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This Sunday is the Academy Awards, and it's a pretty big deal. Some people watch because they love movies, some people watch for celebrity spectacle and fashion, and some people watch just to see who won the office pool.

Then, there are people like me. I watch the Oscars to witness those unpredictably awkward live-TV moments. One of my favorites is when an award winner who has just been given the professional honor of a lifetime starts giving a prolific and emotional speech, only for the producers to start the music and “play them off.” A swelling of music indicates that it’s time to “wrap it up,” cutting off the winner and forcing them to talk hurriedly and become flustered.

Playing someone off is a massively passive-aggressive move — and, as a person who is terrified of confrontation, I love it. It works beautifully in the awards context, so naturally I began to wonder how it could work IRL. Inspired by the spirit of the Oscars and Dave Chappelle’s 'Wrap it up' box, I made myself the “Oscar Shh-tatue” to bring the phenomena of playing someone off into everyday life.

The Oscar Shh-tatue is an Academy Award look-alike that is designed to sit on your desk. It looks innocuous from afar…but the up-close engraving message is a bit more aggressive.

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Hidden on the bottom of the base is a small momentary push button.

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Inside the box is a SparkFun RedBoard, SparkFun MP3 Player Shield with stackable headers, microSD card, AA battery pack and mini speaker.

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The button on the bottom remains pressed while standing on a hard surface. Lift the trophy up, and the button releases, triggering the track to start playing after a short delay. Hand this to a friend who is talking too much, and after a few seconds the music will begin to play them off, indicating that your friend should stop talking. This saves you the discomfort of having to say to your friend’s face, “Hey, man, I'm busy; do you mind leaving me alone for a while?”

Making the Oscar Shh-tatue involves some electronic components as well as objects for fabrication.

Fabrication is where you get to be creative. I ordered an imitation Oscar trophy online and removed the trophy from the base. Then, I used the laser cutter and black acrylic to fabricate the new base and put the trophy on top of that. I made my base 4''x4''x4'' to ensure that I had plenty of room inside for my electronics.

To build the circuit, you will need:

SparkFun RedBoard - Programmed with Arduino

MicroSD Card with Adapter - 16GB (Class 10)

SparkFun MP3 Player Shield

Arduino Stackable Header Kit - R3

Momentary Pushbutton Switch - 12mm Square

Battery Holder - 4xAA to Barrel Jack Connector


Before you build out the Oscar Shh-tatue, drop your MP3 files on the microSD card. You can use any track you like; just make sure it’s labeled 'track001.mp3.'

Putting the hardware together could not be simpler with the SparkFun MP3 Player Shield. First, solder a set of stackable headers on the shield. Then pop it on top of your RedBoard. Solder a wire to each lead of the momentary push button. Strip a small segment of the opposite ends and place one into a ground pin and one in digital pin 10 on your shield. Then, plug the speaker into the shield and the battery into the RedBoard.

Copy and paste the following code into your Arduino IDE and upload it to your SparkFun RedBoard. //Oscar Shh-tatue by Melissa Felderman for SparkFun Electronics

// libraries
#include <SPI.h>
#include <SdFat.h>
#include <SdFatUtil.h>
#include <SFEMP3Shield.h>

//state mp3 palyer shield
SFEMP3Shield MP3player;

//initialize button pin and variable to store button value
int button = 10; 
int buttonVal;

//state sd card 
SdFat sd;

//boolean to ensure song doesn't re-start once playing 
boolean playing = false; 

void setup() {
  //sets button pin to input
  pinMode(button, INPUT_PULLUP); 

//set up sd card
    if(!sd.begin(9, SPI_HALF_SPEED)) sd.initErrorHalt();
  if (!sd.chdir("/")) sd.errorHalt("sd.chdir");

  //initializes mp3 player and set volume


void loop() {
  //read value of button
  buttonVal = digitalRead(button);

  if(buttonVal == HIGH && playing == false){ //if button is pressed
    delay(6000); //wait 6 seconds
    MP3player.playTrack(1); //tigger track
    playing = true; //chnage boolen to true, song cannot restart now. 

  }else if(buttonVal == LOW && playing == true){ //if button is pressed again while music is playing
    MP3player.stopTrack(); //stop playing track 
    playing = false; //indicate that music is no longer playing so can be re-started


Now put it all together inside your fabricated base, and put that shh-tatue to good use!

Share your thoughts and feedback with us in the comments below.

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