Bitbang IR Remote

[Albert] has made a few PC IR transmitters and receivers using the traditional connection of RS232 serial, and that is fine, but as we are all aware, not every computer has serial ports standard. Searching though normal USB <> RS232 dongles didn’t meet his requirements. Deciding on making it himself, he whipped up this FTDI bit-bang IR receiver / transmitter.

While FTDI makes a range of chips most (if not all) support a bit-bang mode where you can manually control the IC’s pins. The FTDI chip handles the timing, and when paired up with libFTDI makes it pretty painless to control. The software is a work in progress, but [Albert] already has a driver that connects to LIRC, which lets you control a wide array of remote devices and a test program for carrier generation.

Schematics, source, and a few pages of good information are available on his site.

USB adapter options

[Ladyada] takes some time out of her day to explain the common options available for connecting projects through USB. You may be thinking that you already do this with an Arduino. Well, yes and no. The Arduino uses one of these options, an FTDI chip that handles the USB on one side and spits out microcontroller-friendly voltage signals on the other. This chip can be used with your projects, a topic that [Phil Burgess] covered in great detail.

In the video after the break you’ll also hear about USB to serial converters which connect to the Universal Serial Bus and output the traditional 12-20V serial signals (with the exception of cheap knockoff cables like the one from last week). These need to be stepped down to 5 volts or less using a MAX232 chip to work with your project.

Finally there’s the option of using a microcontroller running the V-USB firmware package. This is how the USBtinyISP works and I’ve used it in my own projects to build a LIRC compatible IR receiver.

[Read more...]

DIY picture frame better than store bought

[Daniel's] homemade digital picture frame looks great, it’s well-built, and it has a nice set of features. It’s not made from a broken laptop and he didn’t build it around a microcontroller. Instead, he saved a 19″ LCD monitor with a burnt out back light caused by the extremely common blown capacitor problem. Twenty dollars on eBay landed him a small industrial single board computer to drive the system.

The software end of things is a curious conglomeration but considering the hardware constraints [Daniel] made some great choices. He’s using MS-DOS along with LxPic for slide shows and Mplayer for video. The rest of the software gets him up on the home network and enables IR remote control via LIRC. All o this makes for a beautiful product (video after the break includes some Doom footage) and the package is pulling just 40W when in use.

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