The RemotePi Board for the Raspberry Pi

If you have designed a mediacenter system around a Raspberry Pi or RBPi, you would also want to control it remotely, just as commercial mediacenters allow. You can do that with the RemotePi Board. Added atop your RBPi, the RemotePi acts as an intelligent infrared remote controlled power switch and remotely controls to power on/off your mediacenter system.

The RemotePi does not need a special IR remote, as it can learn to decipher the IR code of almost any commercial remote – it works with a standard GPIO IR receiver. This allows you to switch off or on the power safely to the RBPi with any TV remote or a pushbutton. The RemotePi is available in two versions, the 2015 version for fitting on older RBPi models A or B, and the Plus 2015 version for fitting on the newer RBPi models A+, B+ or the 2. Two versions of RemotePi are necessary as the RBPi models differ in their physical dimensions as well as in the position of their connectors and mounting holes. For example, the RBPi models A and B have only two mounting holes, while RBPi models A+, B+ and 2 have four mounting holes on each corner.

For both versions of the RemotePi Board, two variants are available. One has the IR LED and receiver integrated on it, while the other has them connected via a cable. The cable-connected variant is useful if you plan to use the RemotePi Board with a non-transparent case or you intend to mount the RemotePi Board and the RBPi out of line of sight. In this case, you only have to keep the extended IR LED and receiver visible to the users. Although you can buy an acrylic case specifically designed to fit the RemotePi Board piggy backing on the RBPi, most of the readily available cases need only minor modifications to accommodate the two.

When using the RemotePi Board with the RBPi, you need to connect the power to the RemotePi Board and not to the RBPi. The RemotePi routes the power to the RBPi, decided by a micro-controller, which switches the power on or off based on the command it receives from a push-button on top of the board or the infrared remote control.

When you command the power to be switched off, the RemotePi first sends a notification to the RBPi via a signal on the GPIO port. The RBPi has a script running in the background that picks up the signal and initiates a clean shutdown of the operating system, avoiding data corruption.

The RemotePi Board cuts off the power to the RBPi completely, after the RBPi has successfully shut itself down. That reduces the power consumption of the duo to a few mA of standby current.

You must teach the RemotePi software to remember the infrared remote control button you want to use for switching power to the RBPi. For this, the RemotePi software has a learning mode and it stores the button information in its flash memory. Of course, you can make it learn a new button any time you like.