Archive for Interfaces

Very Remote Control

Instead of a TV at home, I use a projector. It’s on my ceiling, with the buttons inaccessible. The remote for it also isn’t really working anymore. Problem.

There’s nothing on the remote control’s PCB except for an obscure microcontroller (TTR013), IR LED and driving transistors, and some carbon contacts for the buttons. The intermittent operation is not the contacts deteriorating, and the microcontroller is getting power, so troubleshooting opportunities are limited.


But, the internet is a wonderful place, and someone has just straight up recorded the exact remote control I need and posted it up on Github.

The config file is here, but they also have the raw recordings. Apparently it’s a config file for a Linux IR transmitter driver called LIRC. The config documentation is here.


It’s pretty straightforward, so I set out to duplicate the waveform using the RMT peripheral of the ESP32. The RMT peripheral is an arbitrary waveform generator, and one of the typical use-cases is an IR transmitter. Perfect.

My final code is here. The From my reading of the LIRC docs, the relevant config data is this:


header 9077 4504
one 602 1622
zero 602 511
ptrail 604
gap 108167

begin codes
ON 0x000CF20D


Where a binary 1 is denoted by an on-pulse of 602 microseconds and then an off-pulse of 1622 microseconds. Similarly for 0, it’s 602-on and 511-off.

The code for ON uses that sequence to write out 0x000CF20D.


The whole packet starts with the header sequence (9077-on, 4504-off) then 0x000CF20D, then the tail/gap sequence (604-on, 108167-off). Seems straightforward.


I put the ESP32 on an oscilloscope to make sure the RMT was doing what I wanted it to do.


It seems to be! But this is more of a logic analyser task, so I pulled that out. The waveform looked exactly as I expected, so I tested it out with an IR LED.



And it didn’t work at all. Nuts.

By connecting the remote control to the logic analyser and powering it with a nice bench power supply, I was sometimes able to get output data. Enough to grab a capture after several minutes of mashing the carbon contacts with a brass standoff.

Here’s the full waveform:

It’s worth noting that the waveform is inverted from the actual LED current, due to measuring at the LED with low-side switching. Don’t worry about it too much, just invert the logic.

Sigrok can export the waveform in a Value Change Dump format, which looked good enough for my purposes. Then I wrote a python script to convert VCD files into the RMT packet format.

It looked good, with the exception of some glitches caused by the RMT not being able to handle very long delays, relative to the fast switching. This strategy still didn’t work on my project.

Speaking of fast switching, let’s investigate that further. Abandoning the Github config files so quickly didn’t sit quite right with me. It was too perfect.

Going back to my capture of the remote, here’s a binary 1:


Here’s a 0:


And then here’s the header, along with the data portion:


And the header with the whole data portion:


It does look right. But why was this so different from the Github repo?

Well, obviously this has a carrier wave that I totally blew by.


Wow, okay. Back to the LIRC documentation. There is a frequency option that specifies carrier wave, and defaults to 38kHz. So, it’s not in the config, because it’s set by default, and is one line in the documentation. No wonder I missed it.

Honestly, my brutish Python script that specifies all of changing values is probably good enough, but it feels wrong to use a 1500-line lookup table instead of a fixed carrier frequency and 15 lines of actual data. The RMT peripheral made it incredibly easy to fix up.

The end result looks really good, but let’s compare with the captured data again.

Keeping in mind that the data to be sent is 0x000CF20D, I’ve annotated the capture:


And it looks mostly good, except… What’s that block at the end?

I can’t find anything in the original config or documentation for the config that would explain that last block. That will remain a mystery for now.


Anyway, it was about this time that I got suspicious of the ancient IR LEDs that were in my parts bin. If I cranked the current, they looked visibly blue, which, obviously is the wrong side of the spectrum when I’m looking for IR LEDs. I grabbed a spectrometer and measured it – Yep, that’s not right.

After combing through my parts bin, I found another IR LED and measured it: 815nm. Still not right. I was fortunately able to juuust barely be able to measure the wavelength, though.

Looks like a very broad band 815nm, if the peak stretches all the way to 750nm.

I’m pretty sure I’m looking for a 940nm LED, so some more combing and I found an IR proximity sensor. I don’t have a datasheet, but pointing a TV remote at it triggered the on-board red LED, so I knew it was simpatico.

A quick hack-job later, and I drove the LED directly from the ESP32. My projector turned on, without any further changes to my code. And it successfully turned off the projector, too.

So that’s how I controlled my home entertainment setup with an IR proximity sensor.


Sometime in the middle of this journey, I hooked up the LA to a little 315MHz receiver module and triggered my garage door remote. I won’t be posting the waveforms here, but minor modifications to my Python script and code worked out of the box to clone the remote. That whole process took about 15 minutes, so it was a nice and useful diversion. Because it’s attached to an ESP32, I can now trigger my garage door over the internet. From anywhere in the world! Very, very remotely.


This whole project is very specific to my needs, but it could be helpful to others. There is now a pipeline for converting LIRC config files into ESP32 RMT outputs. I doubt I’ll ever do this again, but, just for giggles, here’s a GPT-assisted script that will do it:

import re
import argparse
class LIRCConfigParser:
def __init__(self, file_path):
self.file_path = file_path
self.config = {}
self.header = None = None = None
self.ptrail = None = None
def _parse_file(self):
with open(self.file_path, 'r') as file:
content =
remote_blocks = re.findall(r'begin remote(.*?)end remote', content, re.DOTALL)
for block in remote_blocks:
remote_name ='name\s+(\S+)', block)
if remote_name:
remote_name =
self.config[remote_name] = self._parse_remote_block(block)
def _parse_timing_parameters(self, content):
header ='header\s+(\d+)\s+(\d+)', content)
if header:
self.header = (int(, int(
one ='one\s+(\d+)\s+(\d+)', content)
if one: = (int(, int(
zero ='zero\s+(\d+)\s+(\d+)', content)
if zero: = (int(, int(
ptrail ='ptrail\s+(\d+)', content)
if ptrail:
self.ptrail = int(
gap ='gap\s+(\d+)', content)
if gap: = int(
def _parse_remote_block(self, block):
remote_config = {}
lines = block.splitlines()
key_section = False
for line in lines:
line = line.strip()
if line.startswith('begin codes'):
key_section = True
remote_config['codes'] = {}
elif line.startswith('end codes'):
key_section = False
elif key_section:
parts = line.split()
if len(parts) == 2:
key, value = parts
remote_config['codes'][key] = value
if ' ' in line:
key, value = line.split(None, 1)
remote_config[key] = value
return remote_config
def get_config(self):
return self.config
def get_remote_names(self):
return list(self.config.keys())
def get_remote(self, remote_name):
return self.config.get(remote_name, None)
c_start = '''
#include <stdio.h>
#include "freertos/FreeRTOS.h"
#include "freertos/task.h"
#include "driver/rmt.h"
#include "driver/gpio.h"
#include "esp_system.h"
#include "esp_log.h"
#define RMT_IO (GPIO_NUM_18)
static const char* TAG = "ir_transmitter";
#define RMT_END {{{ 0, 1, 0, 0 }}}
c_end = '''static void send_on()
ESP_ERROR_CHECK(rmt_write_items(RMT_CHANNEL_0, on_key, sizeof(on_key) / sizeof(on_key[0]), true));
ESP_ERROR_CHECK(rmt_write_items(RMT_CHANNEL_0, tail_key, sizeof(tail_key) / sizeof(tail_key[0]), true));
static void send_off()
//Off needs to be pressed twice
ESP_ERROR_CHECK(rmt_write_items(RMT_CHANNEL_0, off_key, sizeof(off_key) / sizeof(off_key[0]), true));
ESP_ERROR_CHECK(rmt_write_items(RMT_CHANNEL_0, off_key, sizeof(off_key) / sizeof(off_key[0]), true));
void app_main(void)
rmt_config_t config = RMT_DEFAULT_CONFIG_TX(RMT_IO, RMT_CHANNEL_0);
// set count to 1us
config.clk_div = 80;
config.tx_config.carrier_en = true;
config.tx_config.carrier_freq_hz = 38000;
config.tx_config.carrier_duty_percent = 35;
ESP_ERROR_CHECK(rmt_driver_install(, 0, 0));
gpio_set_direction(ON_OFF_CONTROL, GPIO_MODE_INPUT);
gpio_set_pull_mode(ON_OFF_CONTROL, GPIO_PULLUP_ONLY);
gpio_set_direction(PIN_INDICATOR, GPIO_MODE_OUTPUT);
while (1) {
gpio_set_level(PIN_INDICATOR, 1);
if (gpio_get_level(ON_OFF_CONTROL) == 1) {
} else {
gpio_set_level(PIN_INDICATOR, 0);
def generate_c_code(config, output_path, timings):
with open(output_path, 'w') as file:
if timings.header and and and timings.ptrail and
file.write(f'#define PACKET_HEADER {{{{ {timings.header[0]}, 1, {timings.header[1]}, 0 }}}}\n')
file.write(f'#define ONE_BIT {{{{ {[0]}, 1, {[1]}, 0 }}}}\n')
file.write(f'#define ZERO_BIT {{{{ {[0]}, 1, {[1]}, 0 }}}}\n')
file.write(f'#define PACKET_TAIL {{{{ {timings.ptrail}, 1, {}, 0 }}}}\n\n')
for remote_name, remote_config in config.items():
file.write(f"// Remote: {remote_name}\n")
if 'codes' in remote_config:
for key, value in remote_config['codes'].items():
file.write(f"static const rmt_item32_t {key.lower()}_key[] = {{\n")
file.write(f" PACKET_HEADER,\n")
for nibble in [value[i:i+4] for i in range(2, len(value), 4)]:
file.write(f" //{nibble}\n")
for bit in bin(int(nibble, 16))[2:].zfill(4):
if bit == '1':
file.write(f" ONE_BIT,\n")
file.write(f" ZERO_BIT,\n")
file.write(f" PACKET_TAIL,\n")
file.write(f" RMT_END\n")
if __name__ == "__main__":
parser = argparse.ArgumentParser(description='Parse LIRC config files and generate a minimal C file.')
parser.add_argument('file_path', nargs='?', default='lircd.conf', help='Path to the LIRC config file')
parser.add_argument('–output', '-o', default='main.c', help='Output C file')
args = parser.parse_args()
lirc_parser = LIRCConfigParser(args.file_path)
config = lirc_parser.get_config()
generate_c_code(config, args.output, lirc_parser)
print(f"Generated C code has been written to {args.output}")

Run this with python config.conf --output main.c

It will generate a main.c file that should just compile and have the ESP32 happily spitting out valid data.

PCBs of Unusual Style



As a test, I designed a nautilus-themed PCB in PCBmodE.


PCBmodE is not your standard ECAD package. It’s a collection of JSON files that get converted into SVG or gerber files.

There are some limited tools to convert SVG files back into JSON, too. It can be thought of as forward- and back-annotation.

There’s no schematic editor. There’s no traditional PCB editor. The only interface is Inkscape itself. (Inkscape is an open-source vector software, like Adobe Illustrator)

The end takeaway is that these circuits are drawn, not engineered.


The whole repo is here. All of the JSON files are the source files, which can then be compiled into SVG (for viewing and some minor edits), or to gerber (for manufacturing).



The OSHPark gerber viewer says it’ll look like this:



And here is the final board:


It’s surprisingly difficult to photograph purple LEDs. It was suggested to me that they may have strong UV components that are overexposing that part of the image, so they usually show up as white or very light blue.


Rest assured, they are way more pleasing to the eye in person.



It’s interesting to note that the battery holder footprint was a Boldport component (it looks like a ladybug!). It’s designed for one of those cheap stamped metal CR2032 battery holders, but I don’t have any. It was easier/faster for me to grab some sheet copper and cut out a holder with tin snips.


The workflow of PCBmodE is a little bit jarring for someone expecting a standard PCB tool. It’s all laid out in the official docs, but I didn’t believe it until I tried it. Editing JSON files is almost the only way to interact with the software. You edit, compile, and view it in Inkscape. Some very small amount of things – Component position and traces, mainly – can be extracted back into JSON, but that’s it.

Even for outlines, the best method is to draw them in Inkscape, then copy the SVG paths and then paste them into the appropriate JSON:

For moving components around, there are a lot of SVG layers present for each component, but the extract command only seems to care about the origin. That little dot in the middle:


Three last things:

There’s also no “generate new board” command. Official recommended procedure is to fork one of the existing boards and modify. The docs are outdated, the sample is for an old version of PCBmodE that won’t work. I like BINCO for something really simple, or The Lady for something that uses every trick in the book.

Don’t use the official repo. This fork(as of June 2018) is the almost-official dev branch that has a lot of improvements (including Python 3!), and presumably will be merged back into mainline at some point. This command will install the proper one:

pip install git+


And, finally, there is one issue that will prevent manufacturable gerbers. I described it here.


The next step

So, obviously this software requires some fussing, initially. It’s pretty nice once you have it set up, though. No issues, as long as you know what they are ahead of time.

What’s still a pain for daily use, however, is building usable circuits. Lacking a schematic and having to hand-draw traces as vector paths is painful.

So I quickly grabbed the first complete PCB available in Upverter, my LightBeam board. And then I wrote a conversion tool.

Here it is in Upverter:


And then in PCBmodE:

Workflow is now: Make a PCB in Upverter (or import it from something else!), Export as OpenJSON, convert it with my tool, then edit the PCBmodE JSON files as required to prettify them up, and transform them into something amazing.

The tool is here, pull requests / issues welcome. Only a small amount of available things to convert are completed, there’s lots more work that could be done.