Dimming The Living Room Lights Using Your TV Remote

As part of a complete home theater setup [Andy] wanted to be able to control the lights from his couch. He started thinking about the best way to do this when he realized that his TV remote has buttons on it which he never uses. Those controls are meant for other components made by the same manufacturer as the TV. Since he doesn’t have that equipment on hand, he built his own IR receiver to switch the lights with those unused buttons.

He monitors and IR receiver using an AVR microcontroller. It is powered from mains via the guts from a wall wart included in the build. Also rolled into the project is a solid state relay capable of switching the mains feed to the light circuit. [Andy] mentions that going with a solid state part mean you don’t get that clicking associated with a mechanical relay. An electrical box extension was used to give him more room for mounting the IR receiver and housing his DIY circuit board.

23 thoughts on “Dimming The Living Room Lights Using Your TV Remote

  1. Be careful with which solid state relays you chose. Some of them work in series with the circuit you are trying to relay – meaning that even when the relay is off, there is a small current leaking through the circuit. While this is fine with incandescent lamps, it won’t play nice with electronic/fluorescent ones.

  2. I’m trying to get something similiar done, but I’ve come upon one problem.
    How to get relay and normal light switch to be interoperable? When it’s connected in series, you must first switch on the light using the normal switch, then switch it on (or off) by remote. When it’s conected in parallel, you can’t switch off the lights using wall switch if you used the relay to switch it on earlier.
    Is the only way is to ditch the normal contact switches and just cram the relay and the remote controllable circuit in the wall and install momentary switch in there too?

    1. Why not just wire the circuit up like a two way lighting circuit like you might have in a stairwell? As far as I can see, there’s no reason not to do this. The only “disadvantage” is that you may end up with the light off with the switch in either position.

    2. This gentleman used an interrupt coming in from the switch to solve the problem. You could also write the code so that it looked for changes in state of a pin connected to the switch and override the ir code appropriately.

      From article on website:
      “I also needed the wall switch to work as well, this was done using the spare interrupt pin and the attachInterrupt() function.”

  3. Nice work. I had to grin at the thought that where there will be some that will read Andy’s page and read the word arduino, and go; “where’s the arduino, can’t see it”. They would likely move on not considering duplicating it, because there aren’t enough construction details, not like it would be difffult figure out how it was dome to make on yourself. Like how made in New Zealand was incorporated in the box extension. While I don’t believe these the home built items are inherently dangerous, but the use of unapproved devices could set up a situation that an insurance company could try to deny a claim in the event of a loss due to fire.

  4. I’ve got my 10 meters of LED strips in this room controlled by remote, normally run it all at 50% brightness because it’s enough light and it keeps the LEDs cool for a longer life, but allows max brightness if I need it.
    I bought a pile of old Maxell iPod remotes from a 99p store for their parts http://i5.ebayimg.com/08/i/001/32/95/858d_35.JPG and found the receiver module outputs a serial signal which I read in with a Picaxe microcontroller. Works a treat.

    1. If you have X10 wall switches, then just use an X10 RF remote.

      I would also go with X10 (besides the fact that’s what I’ve used for years) because you can expand the system quite easily later. The control modules are only about $15. Plus, later you can go with computer control also.

      1. Except that X10 modules don’t confirm that they receive a command or that they completed the command. I find X10 OK as a toy, but for any serious application I don’t find it an acceptable solution.

  5. In response to the question on the linked page regarding more than two switches, it would seem like the easiest way would be to add DPDT switches wired with the outside poles crossed, placed in series with the two parallel lines in the diagram between the two SPDT switches…

    1. That sounds rather negative. I could see letting people get settled in to watch a movie, then turning down the lights as the movie starts like in an actual theater instead of turning off the lights and then stumbling over things/others to get your seat. Just because one wants to use a remote doesn’t necessarily demonstrate laziness, but sometimes just a better way of doing something.

    2. Hack together a catheter from an old juice box! Use a peristaltic pump and a manifold to drive multi-can spray-cheeze delivery. I think you might be on to something!

      Oh, you were being sarcastic? I’m sure you chase down your own meat and kill it with your bare hands. Technology. We use it.

  6. The title seems a bit misleading as the article (and the use of a relay) mentions switching the light on and off. There’s nothing about “dimming” the lights in the article. The code doesn’t do any PWM type of thing either.

  7. Lame…Just buy the Leviton Decora electronic pwm dimmer with IR remote…then code the tv programmable remote to turn on/off the lights when the entertainment centre is powered on/off…I did that 10 years ago and it cost $30

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