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Old 4th April 2009, 08:20 PM   #1
SteveS2 is offline SteveS2  United States
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Default Custom Remote Control

Hi all, I'm not sure where else to post this so hopefully I'm in the right forum. I'd like to build a custom learning remote but I don't quite know where to start. What I want is a simple square panel, maybe 8" square, with around 30 buttons on it and the ability to "learn" each button. Are there kits for such a thing? I can construct the case but need some guidance on the inner bits. Thanks for any help!
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Old 4th April 2009, 09:14 PM   #2
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I don't know if you're any good at programming assembly, but one of the PIC microcontrollers from Microchip would be a good candidate with some opto devices as I/O.

Alternatively, hacking up a Radioshack universal remote and re-wiring your own buttons might be just as cost effective.


Unless you're into the educational DIY aspect of learning about the IR RC chips.

Just a thought.
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Old 4th April 2009, 11:53 PM   #3
SteveS2 is offline SteveS2  United States
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Thanks for the reply. I'm no good at programming, so I was hoping to at least find a way to use the guts from a generic universal learning remote and connect my own keypad or buttons. The other trick is that I need so many buttons that a normal remote might not work.
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Old 5th April 2009, 08:16 PM   #4
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My radioshack 8-in1 remote has 49 buttons.

If you need more than that I'd consider a PDA. There's some good controller software for PDA's but you need to go through wifi.

What's the plan? I'm intrigued. One of the buttons better deliver a cold brewski

edit: oh yes, you need 30 buttons, so RS 8in1 would work.
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Old 5th April 2009, 08:45 PM   #5
paulb is offline paulb  Canada
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You might check this out:
http://www.diygadget.com/jp1/
There may be other, better sites out there as well.
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Old 6th April 2009, 08:25 PM   #6
SteveS2 is offline SteveS2  United States
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Thank for the ideas. When I counted again I realized I needed more like 100 buttons so my plans have changed a bit. Basically I want to build is a remote control for quick operation of a few items. My home theater is a mish mosh of a lot of different things, some of it modified vintage gear and some modern electronics. I think I've narrowed it down to about 30-40 buttons. They would be basic functions to control component power, video and audio source selection, and CD, DVD and Tivo control. I do have an RCA universal learning remote that I can pillage for parts, so actually all I need is a way to connect a custom keypad to it, and of course I need to figure out how to make a custom keypad! Even using regular physical buttons would be ok. The housing will be a custom machined aluminum case, that's the easy part for me. The guts are where I get lost.
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Old 6th April 2009, 09:17 PM   #7
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most RC keypads are of the carbon pill variety. There's a rubber membrane that sits on top of the PC board. For each button there's a nipple on the rubber membrane that is carbon loaded and hence conductive (10-500ohms or so) on the PC board there are a series of interdigitated fingers forming the two poles of the switch. The rubber membrane shorts these out when you press.

So....take two wires, one from either end of the interdigitated finger structure to the two poles on your switch and hey presto. You may need to add a 100ohm resistor in series with each, sometimes the resistance forms part of a de-bouncing circuit (so you don't get multiple steps for each press)
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Old 6th April 2009, 11:15 PM   #8
SteveS2 is offline SteveS2  United States
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I cracked open the RCA remote and it is as you describe. My only question is how you would attach wires to the carbon switches? You'd have to be a micro-surgeon to solder to the traces in the PCB, and there is nothing on the back of the board.
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Old 7th April 2009, 02:55 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by SteveS2
You'd have to be a micro-surgeon to solder to the traces in the PCB.
You need a small iron bit and a good lens. A steady hand helps. Practice on some other boards first but with the right tools it's not that hard.
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Old 7th April 2009, 02:04 PM   #10
SteveS2 is offline SteveS2  United States
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I've never soldered anything near that tiny. 22AWG wires are about the smallest thing I've managed so far. I guess it's worth a try, and if I mess it up then I'll buy a friend a couple 12 packs and some Taco Bell to do it for me.
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