Let's Make Robots!

Homemade IR remote

Sends commands to your robot
tsal5100.pdf111.64 KB
ifrared_receiverZD-1952.pdf156.88 KB
IR_remote_MkII.bas1 KB

This is a walkthrough on how to make a simple IR controller. It is relatively cheap and easy to make. Programming is simple since the picaxe basic already has commands supporting IR communication.

I found an old PS2 clone controller with those wicked little joysticks in it. I would have loved to use the entire controller for a remote except it has way more buttons than I need or want plus it wasn't really designed to hold batteries as well.

This is what I ended up with after some debautury (desoldering and butchery :)

 As you can see these little beauties have two 10K linear pots (103 is 10K and B means linear) and as a bonus that I wasn't aware of, a button thats activated by pressing down on the stick (far left on the left joystick). I've used a picaxe 14M to keep the cost down but a 18X or 28X1 could also be used. This now gives me 4 analog inputs for the joysticks and 4 buttons for future camera hacking possibilities. Since I'm using 4x AAA NiMh batteries (4.8V) I've done away with a regulator and will disable the brownout detect in the chip (see disablebod command).

I want to have one joystick set up as a normal up/down left/right and the other set up for skid steer which is normally done with 2 seperate up/down controls. This means I'll need to show you a little trick ;)

Instead of the 14M trying to translate the forward/reverse/left/right movement of the joystick into the equivalent of two forward/reverse joysticks I'm going to turn that joystick 45 degrees. Now when you push forward both the X axis and the Y axis move forward together. Pull backwards and they both move backward together. pull to one side and one motor will go forwards while the other goes backwards etc. 

This is how it looks so far.

The 15mm nylon spacers I'm using give just enough clearance for the batteries and poke the sticks about the right height above the lid. I can always add a few washers to fine tune the height as it needs to be right otherwise the sticks won't get full movement.

Below is the finished remote.

I've fitted two sockets, one for the program cable and the other is to recharge the batteries from a 6V power supply.

I've used two Vishay TSAL5100 IR LEDs designed specifically for IR remotes. They can handle 200mA and have a narrow viewing angle to improve range. This means that up close you need to be pointing directly at the receiver. I may add some additional LEDs with a wide viewing angle later to help at close range.

The IR receiver is from a local electronics store and has the same frequency as the picaxe version. I've attached datasheets for both the LEDs and the IR receiver.

I've found that due to limitations in the IR protocols the response can be a bit slow. The IR only works indoors as bright sunlight swamps the signal. Guibot is building a similar remote using an Xbee transmitter. I think that is a better way to go as you'll have more range and it can be used outdoors. I suspect it will also have a superior data transfer rate.

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and I thought that Fritsl hate remotes  :D

Why should I hate remotes?

Oh - because I think that remote-controlled robots are not "reall robots"? :)

Well, That is true. But since almost day one of my robot building, I have used all sorts of homemade tools & ways to quickly develop and prototype. being an arty, it is the result, the autonomous robot, that counts.

I also have robots remote control each other.. and right now I am working on a robot that is having it's own trailer to remote control :)

So I think remotes are cool.. I just don't think a remote controlled thing is a robot!

Remotes are to me just tools to make better robots in shorter time :)

I was playing with you :)  once you posted a comment saying that you hated the fact that a bot was remoted hehe  :)


I love remotes because I kinda fell that the robot becomes an extension of myself...  but yes, being remoted its not a robot anymore, its a mechanical/electronical/digital vehicle with a human brain controling it  :)

To take this all the way;

In fact I think the future for robots are to be remote controlled: Not as we know it from an RC-car, but more like we know it from a dishwasher; It is us that tells it what to do, but not in details.

I think first step in theis new age is to make things that are able to be autonomous.. But I also think that all fear of robots taking over the world is lame: Human is, have always, and always will just build tools for themselves!

A tool needs to be operated. A good tool is one that does complex tasks at the flick of a button. The best tool thinks by itself, like a fully automated airconditioner; Sensors output is computed, action is done.. but only because we, the humans have asked it to keep the temperature at a comfortable level .. maby by romote :)

The truth is out! the secret to your fantastic robots is a black box with a big red knob and a LCD   :D

It's only a basic walkthrough derived from Pictomatix. I've noticed that remotes are the flavor of the week and thought I'd throw in my two cents! 

Thanks for the encouragement :-) 

this is cool. I just need to learn how to put the circuit together lol... :D