Internet Controlled Remote

How often does this happen to you? You’re leaving on a long trip, and half way there you remember the TV was left on. Never? Alright then, how about wanting to control an Xbox 360 from within the other room and you don’t have the remote. Still a rare occurrence?

Perhaps you have a better situation where an internet controlled IR remote, that can be programmed to work with any TV or IR accepting device, would be useful. [Nicholas McClanahan] starts off with USB Propeller from Parallax, adds an Ethernet module making a mini server, and ends with an IR LED and receiver. The code is nearly as simple being a combination of SPIN, Html, and JavaScript. All coming together under a nice website GUI that prompts for what IR signals to send. To make the project even more straightforward, [Nicholas] has included an Instructable as well. In the end though, while the hack is great, we’re still trying to find a decent enough use. Video after the rift.


41 thoughts on “Internet Controlled Remote

  1. set it up with cron/webcam and you could have it turn off the tv at a specified time if it was on. You could hide it in a corner and use it to play pranks on people by messing with the entertainment center without appearing to.

  2. With this device you could Skype with your grandparents without them moving off the couch or touching the remote. You would also need a computer at their house that you control remotely that is connected to their TV. Many older people have a computer that they were going to learn to use. Surfing the Internet with them on the phone while they watch on the TV is also possible. This might also be your parents.

    You might use a slingbox to connect to a security DVR, slingbox has a remote but ithe remote doesn’t know anything about security DVRs. 4 channel security DVRs can be had for about $200. Getting it hooked to the internet can be difficult (It says it can do it but…) Add some old video cameras and run the feed into your slingbox. Now you need a learning remote. Slingbox has yet to add this feature. With this setup you can watch and control your inexpensive security DVR.

    Once you can actually see in the house you could use the remote to control lights, stereo, tv so the place looks like someone is home when you check in from afar.

  3. Turn on and control the Sound system, to be able to play stuff from the computer without having to have it tuned in on the computer input all the time.

    Net connection not important though.. :-)

  4. Ethernet controller is about $50 right? Propeller is what about $20? So total cost to you is about $70. I’s spend twice as much on a SlingBox and get 100 times more functionality out of it…

  5. I’d be more intuned to connect an IR LED and IR Receiver to a PIC and then connect that to a USB->Serial to a PC (or home server). Other than the computer, you are looking at $15 for the USB->Serial ($0 if you have a serial port) and about $5 for everything else.

  6. Hey, that’s my web clicker!

    That’s pretty much what I did this project for – home automation. I just didn’t want to put my home server under my TV.

    I also did it to turn my phone into a universal remote

    @concino – whole thing runs with just a Prop ($8) and an ENC28J60 ($4).

  7. I’ve been working on a similar project for the past couple months. My goal was to use my iPhone to access a web interface which would send commands to my Arduino which would send the IR commands with an IR LED. Essentially making my iPhone a universal remote. I gave up the project when I couldn’t control my Blu-Ray player because of some timing issues. Maybe I’ll finish the project now.

  8. I would never try to turn something on/off via an interface that has no distinct “on” and “off” commands. Last time I checked, remotes have a single “power” button and therefore (in this Internet-ish setup) can only toggle between two equally unknown states. Hell, I could screw this up even by accidentally hitting a button twice :)

  9. Actually, this would be great for me. I have an older homebrew DVR w/an analog tuner in the basement, and the digital switch screwed me over – I have a converter box hooked up to it, but I have to go downstairs to change the channel, which doesn’t help with automation.

    Now, how much for those parts? The whole not wanting to spend money bit was why I got a crappy analog card in the first place.

  10. I would add a temperature sensor on it and control my AirConditioning unit. In the winter, turn on the heat, and in summer turn on the cooling, before I leave the office, to come home to a nicely cosy home. You could even make a android locale plugin to turn it on automatically when your phone detects you leaving the office. Obviously you would want a propper firewall/authentication setup to protect from misuse.

  11. @saimhe

    While it depends on the device, many have at least a distinct ‘off’ button available, at least in the specification of the remote code. I had a universal remote with a Power button, On buttons for each unit, and an Off button that worked for whichever unit was selected.

  12. “How often does this happen to you? You’re leaving on a long trip, and half way there you remember the TV was left on. Never? Alright then, how about wanting to control an Xbox 360 from within the other room and you don’t have the remote. Still a rare occurrence?”

    maybe a blessing in disguise security research/studies suggests leaving a tv on tells a potential burglar that you are home.

    however there is a cheaper to run device called a tv simulator

    it is a device that flickers milti colored leds and when the light shines off the walls it looks like someone is home.

    also you are on you way to making a remote dvr recording scheduler ” one of the dish services offer meant to set the dvr from a cell phone”

  13. I’m planning a similar project, to turn my ipad and iphone into universal remotes for my tv-stuff…
    So this guy just made my day, as the code is already finished, and I can just do some small adjustments :)

  14. I use MythTV. Remote control via web or telnet works as standard. We use our laptops more often than an actual remote. Combine with DynDNS and proper router/security settings and you can set recording, turn stuff on and off, or watch local programming streamed to your computer.

  15. I have been in the process of designing one of these. I haven’t gotten too far with it, but I had captured IR codes, and played them back. I just got a freetronics Ethernet shield, and was going to connect it up to the IR transceivers. Also connect it to twitter. Perhaps make it accessible when I am outside of my home network.

    My hope was that I could get a web interface, open a port on the router, which is somewhat risky with no password protection or authentication. That way I could control my aircon during the summer, and automatically turn it on before I get home. The other thought was that I could get it to automatically turn it on when it got to a specific temperature. Then if I wanted to go further, auto check that the window is closed and if it isn’t close it then turn on the air con.

    Of course I would also use it to control the tv, stereo, dvd player/blueray and all that when I am at home. I have a remote but it would be nice to be able to at least access the air con when I am out. Twitter was just there well for no real reason other than for the sake of it.

  16. So this wouldn’t need the internet but this could be very helpful for the quadriplegic as they have made laptops controllable through alternative interfaces (like dragon for example) but not for tvs.

  17. I had this same thing working with an Arduino and my old tv. After some fiddeling about I got the timings for the NEC IR protocol (which the tv used) down but sadly, the project died as I got a new tv. =/

    I could never get the new tv (Phillips) to play nicely eventhough I seemingly had everything working right, nor could I get the weird modified NEC-hack my dvd-player uses to work. I do, however, have plans to get all that sorted out, as well as ripping apart an RF home control system I have. Cheap little thing with wall socket modules and a 4 channel remote (though more advanced controls exist, with dimming and many more channels).

    When I get all that stuff working nicely, I’ll hook up a web interface for my HTC Desire with direct control as well as macroing and scheduling. Turning the lights and thermostat controlled electric heaters at home off when I’m not at home and on a little while before I get home should save me at least 30-50% off my electricity bill!

    Also, having the macroing will allow me to have one single button to turn the tv on, set it to whatever channel my media center computer (which the web interface will also control) is connected to and possibly turn off the living room lights.

  18. This would have been handy while vacationing in Hawaii. The room we rented was in a house and the homeowner discouraged you from leaving the AC on while you were out. Since the AC had an IR remote, this could have been set up and could activate the AC while you were on your way back to the room.

  19. This has to be the dumbest idea I have ever heard about. The programming is a disaster even by lay analysis. As a computer forensic specialist, I have to ask, does the device even have the capacity to overcome a basic firewall without triggering a massive cookie response? Has the prototype even been subject to java-reactant delicification under a binary interpretive mechanism? The answer, of course, is no. And clearly, if the prototype was subject to such scrutiny, it would fail largely because the digi-amino-responders show no indication of a channel redirecting jigatron. My fear is that a device such as this rewards “reverse innovation” or the invention of the backwards jigawatt, i.e., more in less out.

  20. What if your dumb cat gets in the way? I reference “your” cat specifically, as he is pretty dumb: he is incapable of performing even the simplest of tasks. The other day I put Paw-paw on one side of a maze and a juicy rat on the other. All he did was look at me, then lick himself, then fall asleep. So what happens if this dunce of a feline decides to take one of his “baths” (and I use this term liberally since it was obvious from watching him that he missed some rather critical spots) in front of this remote? Will it still operate?

  21. My suggestions for improvements to this device: throw it away. Run from it. Use it to line your garbage. The only way I think it could potentially work. You include an M & M in a secret compartment in the device. Then you press a button which is programmed to go “bing.” I can provide the code for the bing upon request. Then when your significant other inquires about the “bing,” you open the compartment on the device, revealing the M & M. Then you offer to give her the M & M if she agrees to change the channel. I think there is a definite market for this type of device. The coding is relatively simple. Actually, the code is “English-basic” and consists of the following command: “change the channel.”

  22. i found this while google searching ‘control universal remote from internet’. you can buy amazing universal remote controls like the sony rm-vl600 for very cheap. if you could hack into it, connect to it (or multiple of ‘its’) via ethernet or wireless from a router at home, then you could control virtually everything in your house (there are adapters out there for light switches, etc. as well). or better yet, find a partner willing to make the universal remote with learning function for cheap!
    i am interested in being able to power on / off my laptop, which came with a remote…so that i can access it remotely.
    hell, you could start offering a service where you come to someone’s home and install & setup everything for a pretty penny!

  23. I have a need- will this address it?
    My elderly mom is home alone during the day. She has extreme difficulty operating the TV remote (plus separate remote for the sound bar). She only wants to watch one channel for about 2 hours during the day. Rather than leave the tv on all day, I’d like to be able to remotely turn it on for her at the appropriate time.


  24. I have a Slingbox Pro HD connected to an outside antenna with rotor attached. Rotor controller has an IR remote. Would like to be able to rotate the antenna remotely. Sounds like it might work for this.

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