A Wireless Computer Remote that Emulates a USB Keyboard

PCRemote

If you are anything like [Antoine], you would love to be able to control your PC with a simple hand-held remote control from anywhere in your house. [Antoine] wrote in to tell us about his wireless computer remote that emulates a USB keyboard, making it suitable for any device that uses a USB keyboard.

His blog post is very well written and contains a ton of design information and background on the project. He initially wanting to easily control his PC’s music from anywhere in his house without needing to be within line of sight of his computer. The end result is a very handy remote that can be used to change music, video, and even launch applications on his computer. The system consists of a base station for his remote that connects to the computer and acts as a USB keyboard, and the remote itself. The base station uses V-USB on an Arduino to interface with the computer, and VirtualWire to handle the wireless protocol for the remote. For those of you who don’t know about VirtualWire (now superseded by RadioHead), it is a very cool Arduino library that lets you easily use raw wireless interfaces (also called vanilla wireless interfaces).

Without going into too much detail here (be sure to see the actual post for more information), the remote itself was redesigned after the initial proof of concept to maximize battery life. The final power consumption is very impressive, resulting in a battery life of more than two years! This remote system is very well put together and contains many aspects that can easily be reused for other projects.

7 thoughts on “A Wireless Computer Remote that Emulates a USB Keyboard

  1. See, not everything on this website must be ugly hacks as demanded by some of it’s readers! If you have so much pride in your work that even when you take on a personal project you make sure it looks good and works good by following sound design principles, then all the kudos to you!

    I’m not sure how RF (gate remotes etc) transmitters usually work, but with IR remotes I think the system is completely off until a button is pressed. The buttons are probably DPST switches where one pole activates the electronics and the other pole activates the signal to be sent. That way, the battery lasts indefinitely long as long as you don’t press any switches!

    I might be wrong though. I’m a programmer – so I just /think/ a lot about electronics.

    1. Most remotes simply put the microcontroller in charge of communication in low power sleep mode when not in use, which draws very little power. Button pushes wake up the micro using interrupts.

    2. You guys are both right. Since I could only find SPST switches that would fit my application, the mcu could not be turned on mechanically. I had to cobble a transistor/mosfet circuit that would switch on the power when a key was pressed. As a consequence, the system is never really fully off because of that switch transistor.

  2. Thanks :)

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  3. If you can live with IR, FLIRC is exactly this, except smaller, cheaper, and with more polish wrt hardware and software. flirc.tv just sayin

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