Use your TV remote as an HID mouse

[Vinod's] latest project lets him use a TV remote control as a mouse. It may not sound like much, but he did it with a minimum of hardware and packed in the maximum when it comes to features.

He’s using an ATmega8 to read the remote control signals and provide USB connectivity. With the V-USB stack he enumerates the device as an HID mouse. One note of warning, he used the PID/VID pair from the USBasp programmer project. If you use that programmer you’ll need to uninstall the drivers to get this to work (we think this is only necessary on a Windows box).

The cursor can be moved in eight directions using the number pad on the remote. The numeral five falls in the center of the directional buttons so [Vinod] mapped that to the left click, with the zero key serving as right click. He even included the scroll wheel by using the volume buttons. The firmware supports cursor acceleration. If you hold one direction the cursor will move slowly at first,then pick up speed. Fine adjustments can be made by single clicking the button. Check out his demonstration embedded after the break.

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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.

Adding remote control to Klipsch surround system

The speaker system [Zurcher] bought was made by Klipsch. It is a surround sound unit but it’s intended to be used with a computer so there’s no wireless remote for it. Instead, a wired unit sits on the desk and lets you select between the speakers or headphones, and has a volume adjustment knob. The thing is he uses them for his home theater system and had to add his own remote control hardware to adjust them from across the room.

He started with some web searches that helped a lot. It seems others have mapped out the hardware in the past and he was able to use that information to find the volume chip inside the controller. A bit of signal sniffing let him work out the control commands coming in over the i2c bus. This was the information he needed to build his own controller. He grabbed his Arduino board, and IR receiver to take commands from just about any remote, and a four-digit 7-segment display to provide settings feedback. You can seen him showing off the final build in the clip after the break.

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Program your Arduino via IR using the Arduino IDE

Here’s a way to program an Arduino wirelessly while still using the stock IDE. It uses an alternative bootloader called SuperDuplex along with an IR receiver like the ones used for TV remotes.

As you can see, this does take two parts. There is the target device which has the IR receiver, as well as the transmitting unit which connects to the computer via USB. You can see a demonstration of the programming process after the break. It might be a bit slow, but nothing outrageous.

With hobby electronics we always thing that “what does it do?/what is it for?” is the wrong question. But in this case we there’s a very apparent use for it. If you’ve built a gadget for use in a harsh environment and want to keep the number of openings in the enclosure to a minimum (like for an underwater ROV) this is perfect. Just make sure there’s a window for the IR receiver and you’ll be able to program as much as you want. Of course it still looks like you need a method to manually reset the target chip, but you’ll think of something.

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A flashlight for any occasion

Whether you’re trying to light your path, build your own night vision, or do some tanning at home, this flashlight has you covered. [David Prutchi] designed the high power flashlight with three swappable heads.

He built the base unit out of aluminum pipe. It’s got plenty of room for the four 9V batteries that act as the power source. The driver circuit is just a bit smaller than one of those batteries, and to bring the whole thing together [David] and his helper added a potentiometer, toggle switch, and quick connector which makes head swaps a breeze. The heads themselves are all LED based, with one for visible light, another for infrared, and the final module outputs ultraviolet. We joke about tanning with it, but at 10 Watts you should be more worried about accidental damage to your vision.

The finished product is shown checking the security ink on some Canadian Currency. This would also make a nice secondary light source for your night vision monocle.

Simple proximity sensor

[Dustin Andrews] built this add-on board which works as a proximity sensor. He wanted a standalone sensor for his Arduino projects which would use a single pin as a trigger. This lets him alert the Arduino when an object approaches the sensor without the need for polling or extra code on the Arduino side of things.

As you can see, a single chip on the board takes care of all the work. That’s an ATtiny13, they’re inexpensive and sometimes you can even salvage them from consumer electronics like this color changing light bulb. The microcontroller monitors the phototransistor which is wrapped in electrical tape to isolate it from the IR LED emitters on either side. This setup creates a reflective sensor. When an object nears the board, the infrared light from the emitters reflects off of it and onto the phototransistor. And since the Arduino works as an AVR programmer you don’t need special hardware to program the device.

IR helicopter controller hacked into a Linux game pad


[Mike Kohn’s] Syma S107 helicopter wasn’t flying as well as it used to due to a broken gear, he figured he might as well find some use for the toy’s controller, since it was currently sitting around collecting dust. Having done a bunch of work with Syma IR protocols earlier this year, he decided it would be pretty easy to get the remote working as a game pad for his Linux desktop.

He patched an IR receiver into an MSP430 board, which decodes the incoming IR signals, sending them to his computer over a serial connection. [Mike] dug around in the Linux source for some good joystick driver code to borrow and found something that was close enough to work. After a bit of tweaking he loaded up his driver module and fired up Mame to give [Ms. Pacman] a try.

He says that the controller worked without much trouble, though as he discovered in previous projects, there are some quirks in the controller that make it somewhat less than convenient to use full time. Check out his site if you’re interested in taking a look at the code that he used to get things running.