ESP8266 NodeMCU Backdoor uPWM Hack for IR signals

We received our ESP8266 NodeMCU several months ago it has been difficult to find a working example of Hardware PWM to generate crisp Infrared carrier signals. Most posts we have read suggest that there is no PWM readily available on any of the supported platforms. As we have already shown with Arduinos and the Particle Photon we figured it would be possible to use a spare UART pin on the ESP8266 NodeMCU to achieve our goal.  After some initial success we encountered some watchdog timeouts/resets and it seemed like the uPWM hack would not be possible on the ESP8266 Node MCU platform. For a few weeks we ‘parked’  the effort and today we decided to try again with all of the latest and updated firmware available from the ESP8266 community via the Arduino IDE. This time we were successful and the ESP8266 NodeMCU Backdoor uPWM Hack for IR signals using works!

ESP8266 NodeMCU uPWM Inverted IR Circuit
ESP8266 NodeMCU uPWM Inverted IR Circuit

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Sending long AC Signals from Flash with IRremote

One of the most popular projects involving Infrared remote control, is to use an Arduino to control an Air conditioner (AC) system. However, AC signals are usually very long and take up a lot of SRAM on a standard Arduino. Experienced users will go about reverse engineering the AC protocol to make the sketch fit within the 2K Bytes of SRAM. Many hobbyists will struggle, even with the help of tools like AnalysIR to guide them. In this post we cover sending long AC Signals from Flash with IRremote. IRremote (along with IRLib) is a popular open-source library for sending and receiving IR remote control signals with Arduino. The demo code covered in this sketch extends our previous sendRAW example by demonstrating how to store many long AC signals in Flash with little or no SRAM overhead.

AnalysIR screen-shot showing the signals captured from the sendRAW_Flash sketch
AnalysIR screen-shot showing the signals captured from the sendRAW_Flash sketch (click or more detail)

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ESP8266 NodeMCU Infrared decoding added to AnalysIR

A few months ago a new user to AnalysIR, from Canada, asked us to assist in adding ESP8266 NodeMCU Infrared decoding over WiFi into  AnalysIR. We set about making some upgrades to AnalysIR for this and in double quick time he had AnalysIR accepting IR signals from the ESP8266 over WiFi. He stressed the ease of use of the support within the Arduino IDE for ESP8266 devices and he wasn’t kidding. This motivated us to go and order an ESP8266 for US$3.60 including shipping from Aliexpress. Just the other day the NodeMCU arrived, presumably  delayed somewhat by the extended XMAS holidays & celebrations, in this part of the world. So we set about porting our existing firmware for Arduino & Photon over to the new device.

ESP8266 NodeMCU Infrared decoding with AnalysIR
AnalysIR supports ESP8266 NodeMCU over WiFi & Serial/USB

ESP8266 NodeMCU now joins a growing list of devices supported for use with AnalysIR, including: Continue reading ESP8266 NodeMCU Infrared decoding added to AnalysIR

Troubleshooting the Big Button Infrared remote control with AnalysIR

Marco is  a volunteer for an organization (NSW Australia) that builds custom aids for people with disability, and has recently been looking at a project to create a ‘very large button’ IR remote control for a cable TV Set Top Box (STB). The custom unit needed basic functions (Channel Up/Down, Volume Up/Down and Power On/Off). Commercially available large button remotes have buttons that are still too small and/or they have too many buttons. Soon he hit a roadblock trying to capture some difficult Foxtel signals and searched all over the web looking for a solution. Needless to say, nothing worked out for him until he came across AnalysIR via Google. Once he started Troubleshooting the Big Button Infrared remote control with AnalysIR the root cause of his problems became obvious.

Troubleshooting the Big Button Infrared remote control with AnalysIR
Marco’s Big Button Infrared Remote control

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Preview: A.IR Shield Photon, a high-end Infrared Shield for AnalysIR

The final member of our first MakeIR series of devices & kits is the A.IR Shield Photon. This shield works out of the box with AnalysIR and is essentially plug & play, with additional prototyping options. The shield plugs into a (Particle) Photon with headers or pin-compatible clone. Although designed specifically for AnalysIR, users can also upload any sketches that run on the Photon for Infrared remote control projects by customising the included firmware. A.IR Shield Photon is built with only the highest quality IR components available and boasts dual Infrared emitters with configurable IR Power. The supplied firmware supports hardware PWM for sending IR signals.

A.IR Shield Photon block diagram RevA
A.IR Shield Photon block diagram

We have provided a link below to the preliminary product data sheet and would welcome feedback on additional, nice to have or missing features, if any. Please read the data sheet for a more detailed description of the A.IR Photon shield.

MakeIR - AIR Shield Photon
MakeIR – AIR Shield Photon

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IRremoteInfo a Helper utility for troubleshooting IRremote

In recent years we have responded to hundreds of supports requests on the Arduino Forum, GitHub and elsewhere for many recurring issues with IRremote – the library for Infrared remote control. As many of the issues are similar we decided it was time to develop a ‘IRremoteInfo a Helper utility for troubleshooting IRremote’ that will help users resolve their own issues or failing that, provide solid support information to those who are providing free support services. Today we release the first version of IRremoteInfo, which prints the settings for most of the relevant parameters within the IRremote library, in the hope that users seeking support can post or upload this information when seeking assistance on-line.

IRremoteInfo a Helper utility for troubleshooting IRremote
IRremoteInfo a Helper utility for troubleshooting IRremote

IRremoteInfo a Helper utility for troubleshooting IRremote

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A hack for Hacks using AnalysIR

One of our users from Italy, Guido, was tasked with upgrading an old in-house WRC system to allow the team of Sport’s Journalists to access the rack of satellite receivers relaying the various sports events around the building.  The challenge is that all of the STB (Set Top Boxes) are located in a dedicated room away from the Journalist’s desks and it is impractical for them to manually change the stations when working to tight deadlines. Previously there was a system in place to remotely switch feeds, but Guido needed to upgrade the system to handle the ever growing number of devices and Infrared protocols. Luckily, he found AnalysIR during his research to implement ‘a hack for Hacks using AnalysIR‘.

Satellite Feed Rack
Satellite Feed Rack during testing

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Backdoor uPWM Hack on Arduino for Infrared signals using UART

In this blog post we follow up on our recent article about generation of infrared PWM from the Photon’s UART where we suggested that it may be possible to achieve something similar with the Arduino. In our previous attempt the Arduino was only able to generate PWM at 40 kHz and 33 kHz using the same approach. After some investigations we discovered a new approach which provides an even better set of results using the Arduino’s USART. Yes, we were able to generate 30, 33, 36, 38, 40 , 56 and surprisingly the illusive 455 kHz which was not possible on the Photon (using this approach). Read on for the details. Readers should also study our original series of articles on ‘softPWM‘ for a better understanding of the source code which can be downloaded below.

Arduino uPWM Circuit Diagram
Arduino uPWM Circuit Diagram

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LearnIR Video Tutorial GUI Introduction

We have just posted a 25 minute LearnIR video tutorial  introducing the GUI (Graphical User Interface) of LearnIR, which is available via YouTube. The tutorial covers the important features available with LearnIR through the GUI. We cover each of the feature tabs in the Windows application including Learning, Configuration, Utilities, Library, Debug mode and firmware updating.

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Backdoor uPWM Hack on Photon for Infrared signals using UART

Since we received our Photon several months ago it has been difficult to find a working example of Hardware PWM on the Photon. Initially, we ported our softPWM approach to the Photon, which is excellent. However, we figured it must be possible to use at least one of the spare UARTs on the Photon to achieve our goal. So first we started prototyping on the Arduino and quickly got a working example with some limitations – only 40 kHz and 33 kHz carrier frequencies were possible with the UART without delving into the registers a bit more. Then we moved the code over to the Photon, leveraging our previous softPWM examples, upgraded with the Arduino code – EUREKA! The Backdoor uPWM Hack on Photon for Infrared signals.

uPWM Circuit diagram for Photon
uPWM Circuit diagram for Photon using UART

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