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Repurpose Old Remote Controls

Don’t throw away those old TV, DVD, etc., remotes because they can control your house’s electrical devices!

This project allows you to reuse surplus remote controls from old VCRs, TV, DVD players, etc.

You can use the remotes to turn on devices like lamps, heaters, etc. with relays, power transistors or anything else a 5-volt signal can control. As shown here, it just toggles up to 6 LEDs. The idea is to provide the sketch and breadboard layout so that the signals sent to the LEDs can be sent in parallel to whatever the user imagines!

As designed, it reads 6 IR codes from any remote control and “memorizes” them. I like to use dights 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 — but any six keys will work. I achieve this by writing the codes as long integers to the EEPROM memory on the Ardunio board. Each one takes 4 bytes, but since the UNO and NANO each have 1024 bytes of EEPROM memory, there’s plenty of room. This memory holds through resets and power-offs, as one would expect. The whole thing would fit on a single breadboard, except for the toggle switch. Pins could be soldered to this switch to include it on the breadboard. I was lazy and used tape to hold it on my desk during development.

I’ve tried it with five different old surplus ones, and they all perform the same. The “gotcha” I struggled with was stray light or weaker signals from some remotes. To solve this, I carefully bent the receiver “LED” downwards to about 45 degrees, and I put a little homemade cardboard and tape box over it, with one end open. It seems to catch the codes consistently and from 5-8 feet away or more. I haven’t had a miss in over five days of testing and tweaking the program.”

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