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Chapter 10. Remotely Controlling External Devices

10.0. Introduction

The Arduino can interact with almost any device that uses some form of remote control, including TVs, audio equipment, cameras, garage doors, appliances, and toys. Most remote controls work by sending digital data from a transmitter to a receiver using infrared light (IR) or wireless radio technology. Different protocols (signal patterns) are used to translate key presses into a digital signal, and the recipes in this chapter show you how to use commonly found remote controls and protocols.

An IR remote works by turning an LED on and off in patterns to produce unique codes. The codes are typically 12 to 32 bits (pieces of data). Each key on the remote is associated with a specific code that is transmitted when the key is pressed. If the key is held down, the remote usually sends the same code repeatedly, although some remotes (e.g., NEC) send a special repeat code when a key is held down. For Philips RC-5 or RC-6 remotes, a bit in the code is toggled each time a key is pressed; the receiver uses this toggle bit to determine when a key is pressed a second time. You can read more about the technologies used in IR remote controls at http://www.sbprojects.com/knowledge/ir/ir.htm.

The recipes here use a low-cost IR receiver module to detect the signal and provide a digital output that the Arduino can read. The digital output is then decoded by a library called IRremote, which was written by Ken Shirriff and can be downloaded ...

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