Control Your HTPC With Scavenged IR Parts

If you’ve built yourself a home theater PC, one of your highest priorities is probably coming up with a convenient control solution. The easiest way to do this is to simply use something like a wireless keyboard and mouse. But, that’s not very conducive to an enjoyable home theater experience, and it feels pretty clunky. However, if you’ve got the right components lying around, [Sebastian Goscik] has instructions and an Arduino sketch that will let you control your HTPC with any IR remote control.

There are a number of ways you could control your HTPC, and we’ve featured more than one build specifically for controlling XBMC over the years. Unfortunately, most of those methods require that you spend your hard earned money (which is better spent on popcorn). [Sebastian’s] setup can be replicated with things you probably have on hand: an Arduino, an IR remote, and a scavenged IR receiver. The IR receiver can be found in many devices, like old stereos or TVs that themselves were controlled via an IR remote.

It starts with an Arduino Sketch that lets you can see on the serial monitor what code is being generated by the button presses on your remote. These are then scripted to perform any task or function you like when those buttons are pushed. The most obvious use here is simple directional control for selecting your movies, but much more complex tasks are possible. Maybe someone can program a T9 script to type using the number buttons on most remotes?

9 thoughts on “Control Your HTPC With Scavenged IR Parts

  1. Why not use the arduino as a hdmi-cec gateway/adapter. You can find some libraries or projects on github. I think it would be a more seamless way to do it.

    Im thinking of making a hdmi-cec to ir converter for my set-top-box, but it’s on hold since my current tv doesn’t have hdmi-cec.

    1. Because HDMI-CEC is horrible there is a standard but nobody follows it. plus you wont get power control from HDMI-CEC as it will not send CEC unless there is a full negotiation on the HDMI port.

      Disclaimer; I’m a pro AV integrator and I know everything there is to know about CEC and how utterly broken it is. It’s why we still use either ethernet or RS232 control for AV gear.

  2. Wiimote also works (at least on Linux.) Very few buttons, easy to operate in the dark. The official android remote called ‘Kore’ works pretty good too – I’ve used it exclusively for a couple months. The only real downside is when something is too loud and you have to unlock the tablet to turn it down.
    My first XBMC remote was serial based and I scavenged the IR module from a VCR that was left out on a curb.

  3. I swear by gyration wireless mice for HTPC use. It takes a little getting used to but they are the best mouse you can use with a HTPC, I have been using them for about 15 years now. I also have a logitech mxair mouse and it is no where was good.

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