Maker builds a tiny TV with a big remote

Honey, I shrunk the TV set! 

A few years ago, Alec Smecher’s boss brought him a souvenir from Mexico City: a tiny television console made of scrap wood, tinfoil and cardboard. Turns out, this little trinket becomes a perfectly good mini TV when paired with the screen of an old I9000 Android phone that he had lying around.


“Of course, no tiny console is complete without a clunky remote,” Smecher jokes. For this, the Maker chose a large clicker which ironically was larger than the TV itself. There was plenty of room inside the remote for a non-LE Bluefruit module from Adafruit, which could communicate with the I9000.

“The big consideration was how to interface the remote control to the phone. I considered using USB OTG, Wi-Fi, and/or writing some custom software on the phone, but in the end I googled the I9000’s Bluetooth support and found that it was decent, though old, and would happily accept a keyboard or mouse,” Smecher explains.


However, Bluefruit doesn’t support matrix keypads. This led the Maker to implement a barebones ATmega328 that was configured to run its own internal clock source. Since the Adafruit board provides voltage regulation that’s usable by the additional MCU, the remote was able to keep its stock 9V battery power supply.


In terms of software, Smecher says that source code was fairly simple — he employed the Arduino Keypad Library and translated keypresses into mouse and keyboard commands for the Bluefruit using the serial interface. Looking ahead, he notes that he may refine the keys and devise a new template for the remote buttons, but for now it’s good to go. Intrigued? Click on over to the project’s original page or stay tuned to see it in action below!

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