DIY Alexa-Controlled Remote Control

So, I think I’m going to embark on my first official hardware project.  I want to make something I can voice-control that allows me to do common operations on my projector and sound system (Like power on, switch to Blu-Ray, etc.)  I don’t have much of a HW background (I’ve made it maybe halfway through Make Electronics – excellent book by the way), so I figured this would be interesting.  I got a new RaspberryPi 3 for Christmas, and have been looking for a good project for it.

So, I knew I needed an IR transmitter to simulate a remote.  I figured I’d get a IR receiver as well to record signals and learn more.  So I browsed the web and found two that I liked (IR Transmitter and IR Receiver) from the same company.  It looked no-fuss as well, where I just had to connect ground, voltage, and two GPIO pins.  Didn’t sound too bad.

So let’s get started!

So first, I had to understand what the pinout was on the Pi.

GPIO layout
Pinout

I didn’t want to solder directly onto the Pi, so I soldered onto some headers.   Unfortunately, I melted some plastic, so the headers didn’t fit right, so I had to solder again.  After that though, I started wiring up to a breadboard to see how it goes.

A bit of a rat’s nest, but it got the job done

My next step for this was to download LIRC on the Pi.  It is a command-line utility for handling IR commands (Such as receiving and sending).  I mostly followed around this post to test out my receiver and transmitter – http://alexba.in/blog/2013/01/06/setting-up-lirc-on-the-raspberrypi/.

The receiver worked perfectly, and I was able to use irrecord to create a profile for my remote (I just needed power on and power off, to start playing with.  The transmitter, didn’t work though.  I looked through my phone camera to see if the IR LED was even blinking.  No dice.  I tried using Python to flip on the GPIO pin every 15 seconds, but no LED.  I hooked up a normal LED to the transmitter module, and that worked (Which means my wiring was solid), but the IR LED gave me nothing.  I wonder if I fried the LEDs somehow?  I had a spare, but that didn’t work either.

So now, I’m waiting for a new batch of IR LEDs to show up.  I’m going to try putting it in with a transistor and resistor like a normal LED and see if that makes it any better.

 

 

A few quick personal notes:

I’ve started a new book – Metaprogramming Elixir.  I’ve always liked the idea of metaprogramming, but I’m not sure when I’ll ever use it.  It will be a fun mind-bending adventure though.

I’ve given two talks.  I talked about Behave and Selenium at PyTennessee2017 – https://www.youtube.com/edit?o=U&video_id=H2FuJYlbzDg

I’ve also given a talk at HSV.cpp meetup regarding Lambda Expressions in C++ – https://www.youtube.com/edit?o=U&video_id=5splHkTJ2LY

 

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