Multi Input IR Remote Control Repeater

[Peter]‘s folks’ cable company is terrible – such a surprise for a cable TV provider – and the digital part of their cable subscription will only work with the company’s cable boxes. The cable company only rents the boxes with no option to buy them, and [Peter]‘s folks would need five of them for all the TVs in the house, even though they would only ever use two at the same time. Not wanting to waste money, [Peter] used coax splitters can take care of sending the output of one cable box to multiple TVs, but what about the remotes? For that, he developed an IR remote control multidrop extender. With a few small boards, he can run a receiver to any room in the house and send that back to a cable box, giving every TV in the house digital cable while still only renting a single cable box.

The receiver module uses the same type of IR module found in the cable box to decode the signals from the remote. With a few MOSFETs, this signal is fed over a three-position screw terminal to the transmitter module stationed right next to the cable box. This module uses a PIC12F microcontroller to take the signal input and translate it back into infrared.

[Peter]‘s system can be set up as a single receiver, and single transmitter, single receiver and multiple transmitter, many receivers to multiple transmitters, or just about any configuration you could imagine. The setup does require running a few wires through the walls of the house, but even that is much easier than whipping out the checkbook every month for the cable company.

Video below.

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A cable box becomes a network time display

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In 2011 [Erkki]‘s DVB box gave up the ghost. It had been a fixture of his media center for quite a while, decoding cable and recording shows faithfully for years. A flaky power supply will bring down the mightiest machine, though. and the Topfield box eventually found itself in disuse. One thing [Erkki] liked about this cable box is its wonderful green LED clock – even after the box had been declared dead, he still used it as a clock. Not wanting to keep a faulty machine on life support, [Erkki] decided to strip the guts and replace them with a networked Arduino that receives time over a network

[Erkki] originally used an Arduino and an ENC28J60 Ethernet module to receive time from an NTP server and spit it out onto the LCD display. A full Arduino for this kind of job, especially one that’s a more or less complete project, is a bit overkill so [Erkki] designed a PCB to put his ‘duino to better use.

One interesting bit about this build is that [Erkki] found it completely broken one day. Figuring this was a problem with the microcontroller, he first fried the ATMega with 9 volts – the reasons escape us, however – and started work on programming a new chip. After looking at different ports on his NTP server with a microcontroller, [Erkki] realized he had reset his network switch recently, meaning the previous microcontroller was working perfectly.

In the future, [Erkki] hopes to add some new features to this 8×4 seven-segment display sitting in a large box; something like reading off the temperature, checking IRC and his physical mailbox, and notifying him when someone is at the front door.

Eloquent universal receiver for your home entertainment equipment

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We’re really starting to enjoy the home entertainment control hacks which use a universal receiver to act on commands from any remote. This one is especially interesting as it uses a single remote to control the system but rolls in lots of extras.

Looking at the receiver itself the white plastic dome of the PIR sensor should raise an eyebrow. Since the cable box takes a while to turn on [Ivan] included the motion sensor to switch that component on when you walk into the room. This way it’ll be ready to go by the time you sit down. It does this by sending IR signals from the PIC32 dev board. Of course the board has its own receiver to listen for the remote control commands. The remote buttons have been mapped a bit differently than originally intended. You can see in the diagram above that the normal VCR/DVD/DVR buttons have been set to control the room’s LED strips. There’s even a power consumption monitor rolled into the project. All of these features are demonstrated in the clip after the break.

This is a nearly perfect base setup. But we’d love to see it with a web interface at some point in the future.

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Fighting over the Frat’s TV remote

[Colin Bookman] lives in a Fraternity house and apparently the remote for the cable box has a way of walking off. He figured out a method to give everyone control of the TV channel in one form or another.

The cable box can be seen perched on that shelf, and [Colin's] addition is the wooden box sitting on the floor. Inside is an Arduino board, and the cable snaking out of the enclosure is an IR LED. This give the Arduino the ability to send remote control commands to the TV box. The two arcade buttons on the front will switch the channel up or down.

But this is hardly a remote control replacement since you have to get up to use it, so he went a few steps further. The Arduino board was paired with an Ethernet shield. It serves up a web page that has a virtual keypad. So anyone with a smart phone or laptop can log into the server and start changing the channels. We’re not sure if this provides relief from a missing remote, or promotes impromptu fist fights when brothers can’t agree on what to watch. It certainly opens up the possibility of long-distance trolling as you could be sitting in class and decide to change the channel to Lifetime every ten minutes or so.

If you don’t have an Ethernet shield handy we’ve seen a similar setup that uses Bluetooth instead the network.

Extended IR input

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We’re not sure why [Roteno] prefers to have his TV and cable boxes not face him when he’s sitting on the couch, but to each their own. You may already see many problems with this setup: discoloration from LCD viewing angle, difficulty playing Wii, oh and most importantly – not being able to change the channel with his IR remote. [Roteno] was lucky enough, however, to have an IR remote input on the back of his cable box. All it took was a 3.5mm jack and a spare IR receiver and he was back in business. Sure it’s not as technical as some of our cable or IR hacks and we would like to see someone try this who doesn’t have as easily accessible IR input on the back of their cable box. But either way, here’s one more step to never having to leave that couch.