Any Remote Can Be A Universal Remote

Everyone has a stack of old infra-red remote controllers lying around, for devices that have long since shuffled off this mortal coil. Containing little more than an application-specific encoder chip, keyboard, and IR LED, they’re of little use unless you happen to have another device that uses the same encoding scheme. For [RiYa] though they represent an opportunity, to be repurposed into controllers for other devices. How? Hijack the bitstream with an ATtiny13 microcontroller, re-encode it, and send it out afresh into the ether from the LED. It’s a gloriously simple solution which we can’t help applauding, and has the potential to cheaply replace all those universal remotes.

The ATtiny itself along with a buffer to drive the LED is mounted on a small breakout board and concealed within the shell of the remote. We don’t learn much about the power supply arrangement, but we’d expect the ATtiny to be on its most power-sipping behaviour as anything which would shorten the battery life of a remote would be unlikely to be popular with a couch potato forced to change AA cells every few weeks. There’s a plan for a learning mode to make it more like a commercial universal remote, but for now the translation is hard coded.

Of course, should you lack a handy old remote to play with, you can always try a smartphone.

20 thoughts on “Any Remote Can Be A Universal Remote

    1. Wow, what do you do, fondle them in a sweaty paw 3 hours a night, and the sweat corrodes them? I’ve never had buttons fail on devices in service 10+ years.

      My major remote problem is when you drop them on a hard surface and the battery cover pops off with enough energy to tunnel to an alternate dimension never to be seen again. So end up with tape holding the batteries in.

        1. One of ours too. When we run out of fossil hydrocarbons, we’ll have to figure out how to get there, so we can mine it for plastic.

          Sometimes you swear it must have remained here, because you heard the *pew* of it bouncing off three walls. After one hunt when I moved every single piece of furniture, I am forced to conclude that that must just be the boom echoing from when it went supersonic.

          1. I should say, that I haven’t entirely discounted the possibility that they tunnel through space within our own dimension. Because I once found one in a bedroom, that matched none of the remotes we could ever remember using in there, or any with missing covers in the entire house.

    2. What I usually do is to use a hole punch on heavy aluminium foil and tape one corner to where the button would be on the PCB. Had to do that for the most frequently pressed keys on my remotes.

      I had to improv on my parents’ Samsung remote On/off button and that took like 30+ minutes without tools as the case was designed to snap one way together.

  1. TCL tv codes are able to operate some of those IR led strips. I put led backlighting on my TV and found that out, everytime I change volume it changes color. The factory remote does 1 set of colors and the 2 universal remotes from cable co. Each do 2 other sets of colors, I guess they got set on different codes for TCL tv’s. It also changes a string of white led lights I got but not as good as the color leds.

    1. I experienced the same. The remote control of my Philips “PicoPix” video-projector interact with a cheap RGB light bulb (IR controlled). It looks like the remote controls of both devices share some common codes.

  2. maybe the plaid keyboard by hsgw could be used as a remote if one of two indicator leds were replaced by an ir led. there’s no battery though but the atmega328p is ideal for the purpose.

  3. Remember those Palm PDAs, Decades ago? They had IR and could be repurposed as a universal remote (I think the app I used on my old Palm III was called “Omniremote”, or something like that). The touchscreen made it very flexible and comfortable.

  4. I have to agree with Martin, above. The enter key goes crappy first, then the down and right arrows go out on the cable co remotes.
    It’s mainly due to the DVR menu & recorded content navigation demands.

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