Creating a custom, self-learning TV remote

Reminiscent of the seven-function remotes of yesterday, this Maker built a barebones controller for the elderly.

While on the topic of slick remotes, we couldn’t help but share another one. This time, it’s not from a high-end brand of smart home devices; rather, it’s from no other than the Maker community. You see, Hari Wiguna’s 90-year-old father found himself having trouble pressing those darn little buttons on his TV clicker. So, doing what any DIY spirited individual would do, Wiguna decided to build his dad a custom controller with only a few key buttons.


To create this minimalistic unit, the Maker mounted an ATmega328 and several of its other components onto a stripboard, which he then housed inside a laser-cut acrylic case. The barebones gadget features an IR transmitter and receiver, an FTDI jack for reprogramming, a switch to select whether it’s in use or being programmed, an LED, and a beeper for additional feedback.

As eluded to above, the controller is equipped with only the buttons necessary for the most frequently used functions, including power, channel up and down, volume up and down, and a directional pad. Each one can be programmed by simply pointing an original remote to this DIY self-learning unit. Come to think of it, many old-school clickers only had seven buttons anyways.


Perhaps one of, if not, the most interesting aspects of the project was that Wiguna lived thousands of miles away from his father, so he didn’t have the original remote on hand to do the programming. Fortunately, he found an emulating Android app that allowed him to mimic his dad’s cable box and TV remote, basically giving him a duplicate copy right at home. This enabled the new remote to learn from the other remote, which this case was actually the smartphone.

Not only can you find a breakdown of the project along with its source code and schematics here, you can watch the Maker give a detailed overview in the video below!

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