Tag Archives: Remote Control

Room Automation and Raspberry Pi

Most people prefer to come back to a cozy room after a full day’s work. For many, this may not always be possible, unless someone turns on the AC at the right time. For those living alone, help is available in the form of a single board computer, the Raspberry Pi or the RBPi. In addition, the RBPi operates the blinds and you can control it from anywhere in the world – the RBPi is connected to the Internet.

For this project, you will need an RBPi with a suitable SD card, a Wi-Fi dongle, a stepper motor. You will also need a power source capable of driving the RBPi and the motor, a stepper motor driver board, an IR receiver, an IR LED and an NPN transistor.

Controlling the AC is a simple affair, with the RBPi simulating the infrared information the remote control normally uses. You need to use the LIRC library for the RBPi to record this IR information via the IR receiver. The infrared LED driven through the NPN transistor duplicates the signal sent by the remote control of the AC. Initially, you must let RBPi learn the IR codes by recording those using commands in the LIRC library. LIRC produces a configuration file that holds the IR codes for your AC. Playing back these codes through the IR LED allows you to control the AC just as its own remote does.

The RBPi and the motor driver board control a stepper motor for driving the blinds. The RBPi merely drives a GPIO pin to let the motor driver board know if it must operate the stepper. The driver board already has the necessary parameters stored within it for driving the motor. By default, the motor remains off so that it does not waste power when it is not needed. The software takes care of this by turning off the Enable pin on the stepper driver board. When you need to operate the blinds, a script on the RBPi turns the GPIO pin on and off.

To operate the unit from remote, you need to connect the RBPi to the Internet via a wireless network. Use the Wi-Fi dongle for this, configuring the RBPi to switch on the wireless connection immediately after booting. Web access to the stepper motor controller is through Nginx and PHP.

The entire setup works when the RBPi connects wirelessly to the network. You access a web interface and use it to send commands to the controller script running on the RBPi. Depending on the commands sent, you can access either the blind opener or the AC control. For opening the blinds, the RBPi sends on or off signals to the stepper motor controller board.

On the other hand, the RBPi sends the appropriate commands to the air conditioner via the IR link. Depending on the code transmitted over the IR link, the AC will switch either on or off. Additionally, with proper codes transmitted from the RBPi to your AC, you can even set the temperature of the room before returning at the end of the day.

Raspberry Pi Can Open Your Garage Door from Anywhere

Using a Raspberry Pi, you can have a garage door that opens with a command from your smartphone. Additionally, if you are away from home, no matter how far, you can always keep a tab on whether your garage door is shut. The tiny, credit card sized single board computer, the Raspberry Pi or RBPi is used here as a small web server. The page served by this web server will give you a big red button when you access it via your favorite browser.

Pressing the red button will trigger the garage door via a relay. That needs a very simple circuit to be connected to the GPIO pins of the RBPi. The uploaded website will trigger this circuit, which in turn will trigger the relay. The relay contacts will close the circuit to turn the garage motor on and the motor will open the garage door. Another press on the red button will again trigger the connected circuits so that the garage door now closes.

You can use whatever RBPi model available. Additionally, you will need a Wi-Fi adapter, a power supply unit, a 5V relay, a 2GB SD card and some wires. On the SD card, install and optimize the OS Raspbian. This can be the shrunk version of Debian Wheezy – get the image here and follow the installation instructions. Just a tip – use gparted on any Linux computer such as Ubuntu, for format the SD Card to fat32, then dd to write the image on it.

Once the image is installed, plug the SD card in, connect the USB keyboard and hook up the RBPi to a suitable monitor. The first-boot of Wheezy will take you automatically to rasp-config. This tool allows you to stretch the partition and enable ssh. In case you do not want the GUI, use the apt-get command to purge x11-common and autoremove the rest – this will free up some space on the SD card.

Next, use the command line to set up the Wi-Fi so that you will be able to control the RBPi remotely via ssh – use this guide for Wheezy. If you are using the Mode A of RBPi, it has only one USB port. Therefore, for setting up the configuration, you will need your keyboard plugged in. Once the configuration is done, shutdown the RBPi, unplug the keyboard, then plug in the Wi-Fi dongle and reboot the RBPi.

If everything has been done perfectly, the Wi-Fi will be set up and the router will assign your RBPi with an IP address. This will be evident in the boot log of your RBPi if you have a monitor connected to it. Alternately, login to your router and look up the DHCP table. Login to your RBPi through ssh on your Linux PC – type ssh pi@[IP address of your RBPi], with default password as raspberry.

You will need to login, download, compile and install WiringPi – use this guide. This allows complete control of the GPIO pins on the RBPi. Follow the instructions here to control the relay using the RBPi.

10 Things Your iPhone Can Remote Control

Among the estimated 50,000 iPhone apps, you can find quite a few that make your life easier by functioning as a remote control. After looking at many, we found that these were the 10 coolest things (mostly electronic) that you can remote control with your iPhone.

  • Using the Pocket BLU app, you can control your Blu-Ray Discs for playback, pausing, etc
  • With a Keynote remote and the iWork suite, you can remote control your presentations
  • For $2.99, you can buy a PhotoKeys Photoshop app which gets the Photoshop toolbar on your iPhone
  • The free Apple Remote app will allow you to remote control your iTunes Jukebox
  • Air Mouse Pro lets you convert your iPhone into a wireless trackpad and keyboard
  • Some DVRS like the ones from DirecTV, DISH Network and Comcast can be controlled with an iPhone app

  • Use the Zipcar app to book a rental car – then you can use your iPhone to make the horn beep or unlock the car
  • An app for Schlage LiNK allows you to use your iPhone to lock, unlock your doors, turn lights on, turn your security system on or off, etc
  • The L5 remote add-on will convert your iPhone into a universal remote control
  • iCarly fan? Get the “Sam’s Remote” app which turns your iPhone into the iCarly remote – complete with sound
  • The best app for the iPhone? How about “The Boyfriend Remote”…Increase his income, make him take you shoe shopping. Possibilities are endless.