Rotary encoders and Arduino combine for awesome universal remote

In his latest hack, “Matlek” has come up with an entirely new take on the universal remote, using a pair of rotary encoders instead of an array of buttons to output up to 400 individual signals.

One 20-step encoder in his remote selects the device to be controlled, while the other picks the function, like changing the volume or channel.

Pressing down on a built-in button on the action selection encoder executes a command, while if it’s held down for long enough, it can be programmed via an IR receiver. An Arduino is used to control the gadget because of its small size, and the project expands on several helpful concepts like SD card usage and IR signaling.

Of course, the remote has an IR receiver to “absorb” the IR signals of the remotes you want to “clone”, and an IR LED to send them. These protocols are saved on a microSD card, therefore you can switch OFF the remote (and the Arduino board), it keeps the information concerning the signals on the microSD card. There are also 2 rotary encoders with 20 positions each, and that is how you can have 400 buttons. Each rotary encoder is also a pushbutton. There is a LED to inform whether the universal remote is receiving or sending IR signals. This device works on a Lithium Ion battery (18650 cell), so it is portable. And finally, there is a switch, so you can switch it ON and OFF.

Want to create one of your own? You can find out Matlek’s entire tutorial here.

Arduino Blog

Experience the Internet through a modified rotary phone

A 2017 Core77 Design Award winner, the “Internet Phone” is an exploratory project that allows users to access websites with the nostalgic interface of a rotary phone.

For most of us the Internet is a mysterious black box that lets us read the news, watch videos or browse social media feeds. But how does the Internet work behind the scenes? Most our interaction with the Internet is through an intangible browser. What if we can make the Internet experience tangible and understandable?

In order to “get to” a certain page, one must look up a website’s IP address in a physical phonebook Internet directory and dial the necessary digits using the rotary. It then reads the website to the user via one of four different token-selected modes, including an “incognito” setting, which reads the site in a sort of computerized whisper.

The phone uses an Arduino for control, and was developed as part of a physical computer course taught by Dario Buzzini, Ankitt Modi, and… none other than Massimo Banzi. The device was put on display at the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design and the Langelinie Harbor, also in Copenhagen to amused and astonished responses.

Each step in the user experience is comparable to the process that a browser takes when retrieving a website. Looking up the IP addresses in a phone book is similar to how a browser gets an IP address from DNS (Domain Name System) directories. Dialing the twelve digits and waiting for the phone to retrieve the HTML content mimic how a browser requests data from servers. The voice-to-speech reading of the website is comparable to how a browser translates HTML and CSS code into human understandable content.

You can read more about this project, which “leverages existing telephone behaviors to demystify the invisible workings of the Internet,” on Core77.

Arduino Blog