Monday, November 17, 2008

My वायरलेस प्रेसेंटर

Wow! Hindi transliteration on blogspot! That's an interesting feature! :-) Useless, but interesting, nonetheless.

Just a small point to note: I'm typing these first few lines from 15 feet away, using my wireless presenter. (Big smile :-) )

Naturally, you scoff, "How can you do that? Oh! You have a wireless keyboard! Umm, hang on a sec! You said वायरलेस प्रेसेंटर . How are you typing text?" (Bigger, mysterious smile :-) )

Well, I made my own Wireless Presenter-cum-Keyboard-cum-Mouse. (Biggest smile yet :-) And, in Sheldon's words - TBBTS02E07 - Muaa-hah-hah). Here are the details.

This project originally started off beacuse I used to get exceedingly irritated with the abysmal lack of dexterity afforded by standard keyboards. This lack was / is felt, most painfully, when getting fragged in a fast-paced game of CoD. "I need my grenade! Where the hell is the 'G' key. Dratted keyboard." My rifle! My rifle! '1'! '1'! '1'. Shots fired! Duck! 'Q'! 'Q'! 'Qqqqqqq....!'. I'm sure you get the point. I also do a lot of 3D modelling in AutoCAD, and image editing in Photoshop. My mouse, which would ordinarily be considered reasonably good, fares pathetically at this zoom-in-zoom-out-click-to-do-this-tap-to-do-that kind of stuff. Wouldn't just be great to have an additional fully customizeable keyboard? It would have a zoom slider, a wonderfully sexy scroll wheel (much like the iPod's), multiple buttons, and special keys which have several keyboard buttons bound to one (so to press 'Ctrl-Alt-Del', I'd just need to press one key on this keyboard). The mouse would be integrated into this device, and would have similar useful features.

I can, of course, buy such a device, but that would mean shelling out absurd quantities of cash - something that I don't have much of! Making one would mean I'd save potloads of money. I have been reasonably successful; hence this post.

So far, I've only made a Wireless Presenter, but this same device can be adapted to do all the stuff I mentioned above. A little effort, some pain, and a couple of milk-and-cookies-filled all-nighters are all that are necessary.

Without going into the overly-technical details of the device I'll tell you what the system consists of:
- a full speed USB PICmicro (the 18F2550) (free from Microchip);
- a TSOP1738 IR detector (Rs.10);
- a cheap roadside SONY TV remote (Rs. 60);
- a USB cable (free from an old mouse), crystal (Rs. 4), capacitors (Rs. 4).

The SONY remote sends IR data to the TSOP, which is connected to the '2550. The PIC decodes the IR signals (which are in SONY's SIRC format). The '2550 then sends this data through USB to the PC. Now, I've programmed the PIC to enumerate as a USB keyboard-mouse combo device. So my PC, for all practical purposes, thinks that it has a second keyboard and mouse. I have mapped certain keys of my laptop keyboard to keys on the remote. So pressing the 'Program +' key on the remote, is equivalent to pressing the 'Right Arrow' key on my keyboard. Pressing the 'Power' button on the remote is like pressing 'Esc' on the keyboard.

This is the nice thing about putting software (firmware) onto a microcontroller - you can fiddle around, and map virtually any key combination to any remote key!

I use this device to control MS Powerpoint slides from upto 30 feet away. I've mapped most of the Powerpoint keyboard shortcuts to buttons on the remote. The 'Contrast' button is 'F5', the 'Program Jump' button is 'Enter', and so on.

For a full listing of the source code go here .

I've made this using a PIC, but if you get the logic and code right, I'm pretty sure you could use any processor.

Future modifications include adding an accelerometer to provide intuitive mouse support (right now I'm pressing 'Mute' and the 'Volume / Program +/-' buttons for mouse-like action). Maybe I'll even port the whole thing to RF (Zigbee, or MiWi); it's running IR now - the great thing about IR is that its laughably cheap and easy! RF would involve additional cost and effort (protocols, and other crazinesses). For now, this is good. Anyway, in the beginning you had asked (well, alright, I had made you ask) how I was typing out text using my वायरलेस प्रेसेंटर.....I think you have the answer now.

I will be, at some point in time, making the gaming device I talked about earlier, but until then, I'll have to amuse myself with this :-) If anyone is planning on building something similar drop me a mail - I'll be glad to help.


  1. nice work man!! maybe u shud patent it!! :D

  2. Thanks Danny. Such a device already exists in the market, so I can't really 'patent' it. It is about INR550 for a cheap, no-name wireless presenter with just a few non-customizable fiddly buttons. My device costs less than 100 bucks plus a couple of hours of time. Even if Microchip was not kind enough to send me free samples, the device would cost 250 bucks, tops. AND my device is completely user-customizable, WITH mouse support. :-) Logitech has a sleek IR presenter for Rs.1300 - quite a bomb, naa?

    Anyway, I'm a big advocate of open source stuff - provide free, or at a very low cost. Therefore I have no intention of patenting this gadget. :-)

  3. VERY Impressive. And I love the fact that you're sharing all the info here. Keep it coming.