Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Control your mouse with an IR remote

You can use an IR remote to control your computer's keyboard and mouse by using my Arduino IR remote library and a small microcontroller board called the Teensy. By pushing the buttons on your IR remote, you can steer the cursor around the screen, click on things, and enter digits. The key is the Teensy can simulate a USB keyboard and mouse, and provide input to your computer.

How to do this

I built a simple sketch that uses the remote from my DVD player to move and click the mouse, enter digits, or page up or down. Follow these steps:
  • The hardware is nearly trivial. Connect a IR detector to the Teensy: detector pin 1 to Teensy input 11, detector pin 2 to ground, and detector pin 3 to +5 volts.
  • Install the latest version of my IR remote library, which has support for the Teensy.
  • Download the IRusb sketch.
  • In the Arduino IDE, select Tools > Board: Teensy 2.0 and select Tools > USB Type: Keyboard and Mouse.
  • Modify the sketch to match the codes from your remote. Look at the serial console as you push the buttons on your remote, and modify the sketch accordingly. (This is explained in more detail below.)
To reiterate, this sketch won't work on a standard Arduino; you need to use a Teensy.

How the sketch works

The software is straightforward because the Teensy has USB support built in. First, the IR library is initialized to receive IR codes on pin 11:
#include <IRremote.h>

int RECV_PIN = 11;
IRrecv irrecv(RECV_PIN);
decode_results results;

void setup()
{
  irrecv.enableIRIn(); // Start the receiver
  Serial.begin(9600);
}
Next, the decode method is called to receive IR codes. If the hex value for the received code corresponds to a desired button, a USB mouse or keyboard command is sent. If a code is not recognized, it is printed on the serial port. Finally, after receiving a code, the resume method is called to resume receiving IR codes.
int step = 1;
void loop() {
  if (irrecv.decode(&results)) {
    switch (results.value) {
    case 0x9eb92: // Sony up
      Mouse.move(0, -step); // up
      break;
    case 0x5eb92:  // Sony down
      Mouse.move(0, step); // down
      break;
...
    case 0x90b92:  // Sony 0
      Keyboard.print("0");
      break;
...
    default:
      Serial.print("Received 0x");
      Serial.println(results.value, HEX);
      break;
    }
    irrecv.resume(); // Resume decoding (necessary!)
  }
}
You may wonder where the codes such as 0x9eb92 come from. These values are for my Sony DVD remote, so chances are they won't work for your remote. To get the values for your remote, look at the serial console as you press the desired buttons. As long as you have a supported remote type (NEC, Sony, RC5/6), you'll get the hex values to put into the sketch. Simply copy the hex values into the sketch, and perform the desired action.

There are a few details to note. If your remote uses the RC5 or RC6 format, there are actually two different codes assigned to each button, and the remote alternates between them. Push the button twice to see if you'll need to use two different codes. If you want to send a non-ASCII keyboard code, such as Page Down, you'll need to use a slightly more complex set of commands (documentation). For example, the following code sends a Page UP if it receives a RC5 Volume Up from the remote. Note that there are two codes for volume up, and note that KEY_PAGE_UP is sent, followed by 0 (no key).

    case 0x10: // RC5 vol up
    case 0x810:
      Keyboard.set_key1(KEY_PAGE_UP);
      Keyboard.send_now();
      Keyboard.set_key1(0);
      Keyboard.send_now();
      break;

Improvements

My first implementation of the sketch as described above was very easy, but there were a couple displeasing things. The first problem was the mouse movement was either very slow (with a small step size) or too jerky (with a large step size). Second, if you press a number on the remote, the keyboard input rapidly repeats because the IR remote repeatedly sends the IR code, so you end up with "111111" when you just wanted "1".

The solution to the mouse movement is to implement acceleration - as you hold the button down, the mouse moves faster. This was straightforward to implement. The sketch checks if the button code was received within 200ms of the previous code. If so, the sketch speeds up the mouse movement by increasing the step size. Otherwise it resets the step size to 1. The result is that tapping the button gives you fine control by moving the mouse a little bit, while holding the button down lets you zip across the screen:

    if (millis() - lastTime > GAP) {
      step = 1;
    } 
    else if (step > 20) {
      step += 1;
    }
Similarly, to prevent the keyboard action from repeating, we only output keypresses if the press is more then 200ms after the previous. This results in a single keyboard action no matter how long a button is pressed down. The same thing is done to prevent multiple mouse clicks.
 if (millis() - lastTime > GAP) {
        switch (results.value) {
        case 0xd0b92:
          Mouse.click();
          break;
        case 0x90b92:
          Keyboard.print("0");
          break;
...

Now you can control your PC from across the room by using your remote. Thanks to Paul Stoffregen of PJRC for porting my IR remote library to the Teensy and sending me a Teensy for testing.

2 comments:

sebastian said...

hello ken,

first of all: great work, really helped me out with my project(or better: could'nt have done it without you)
but i had one last problem: get my remote to control my pc via arduino.

a very easy way: receive the ir-code with the arduino, but don't "hard-encode" the received signal, just pass it to the serial output. now use "eventghost", an open source automation tool and the serial plugin to receive the input and tell the tool what to do (mouse up, press space, control xbmc or whatever you want). took me at least 1 week to figure it all out (im not a programmer), but with eventghost you are completely independent from received codes ect - its much more flexible then doing in a sketch for arduino...)

i just hard endoded one button of my remote: for turning the pc on via arduino...

hope this helps somebody, if there are questions: randaley@gmail.com

Micah Blomgren said...
This comment has been removed by the author.