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Media (Apple) Media Toys Hardware

Turn your iPod into a Universal Remote 202

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the because-you-can dept.
no_demons writes "Some clever souls over at engadget.com have posted an excellent tutorial in turning your iPod into a IR remote control. You also need a Pocket PC, an IR gadget from Griffin and a bit of patience, but hey, it's still a cool hack."
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Turn your iPod into a Universal Remote

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  • by garcia (6573) * on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @11:17AM (#9812637) Homepage
    For only the cost of a PocketPC, iPod, and Griffin IR gadget you too can iPod your Slashdot! [slashdot.org] To be fair, you might not have to pay the $17 for the IR gadget from Griffen... You could just buy a kit from Radio Shack and DIY for $5 less!

    This isn't a "cool hack" or even "news for nerds". This is incredibly lame, backwards, and expensive. Why bother to use all these devices when you could just use a $10 or less Universal Remote from Walmart with a lot less futzing?

    A cool hack would be controlling your iPod via a $10 universal remote from Walmart.
    • Cool. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Oculus Habent (562837) * <oculus.habent@gm ... minus herbivore> on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @11:20AM (#9812678) Journal
      I'm not interested in the whole PocketPC process, but the fact that you can do it is awesome.

      Slap together an IR "microphone" and do it yourself if you don't like their process. I don't plan on rushing out to buy a PocketPC to try this, but that it can be done is worth noting.
    • You can! (Score:5, Funny)

      by HarveyBirdman (627248) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @11:20AM (#9812680) Journal
      A cool hack would be controlling your iPod via a $10 universal remote from Walmart.

      1. Buy iPod.

      2. But $10 universal remote from WalMart.

      3. Use corner of universal remote to push iPod buttons and rotate volume dealy-widget.

      So much more cool and high tech than using your primitve old finger.

    • by Conspiracy_Of_Doves (236787) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @11:25AM (#9812722)
      This isn't a "cool hack" or even "news for nerds". This is incredibly lame, backwards, and expensive.

      I think someone here doesn't understand what a 'cool hack' is. One of the things that can define a 'cool hack' is going the long way around to make a peice of technology do something that it wasn't originally intended to do, i.e.: installing linux on a dreamcast or connecting a cuecat to amazon.com.

      Price never enters into it.
      • by garcia (6573) * on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @11:28AM (#9812768) Homepage
        I think someone here doesn't understand what a 'cool hack' is. One of the things that can define a 'cool hack' is going the long way around to make a peice of technology do something that it wasn't originally intended to do, i.e.: installing linux on a dreamcast or connecting a cuecat to amazon.com.

        Installing Linux on a Dreamcast or connecting a CueCat to Amazon.com to link your personal collections (books, DVDs, whatever) is far more exciting than using existing pieces of technology to do something.

        This is a piece of PocketPC software that is talking to a Griffin IR gadget which the iPod is controlling. Woofuckinghoo.

        It is certainly not "cool" by any stretch of the imagination. All they did was use existing technology through several different hoops to get a simple task accomplished. I can't even fathom how you could place it in the same realm as the CueCat hacks or Linux running on hardware X.
      • Yes, that's true.

        This, however, is not a cool hack even in that sense of the word. iPod doesn't do anything that it wasn't originally intended to do, it just plays audio files. IR gizmo doesn't do anything it wasn't intended to do, either. Considering neither of the devices used in this operation are doing anything else than they're supposed to do, it's not a hack at all.

        It would be a hack if they'd built the IR gizmo themselves, though even still it's so simple concept I would't call even that a cool hac
    • Really, all you technically need to _buy_ is the griffin remote thingy, nothing else. The pocketPC is only a one time thing from which you record the signals of the remote. If you had read the whole article, you would find that you could have done this using a computer as well.
    • Hey, it's slashdot. Use the iPod anywhere, it gets front page status.

      Incidentally, I control my life with the iPod. See, some days I just don't want to get up in the morning. Playing the second Queens of the Stone Age album on my iPod every morning at 7:30 makes sure I get to to work on time. Wow, what an amazing hack!
    • Hmm (Score:5, Interesting)

      by autopr0n (534291) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @11:55AM (#9813087) Homepage Journal
      Actually, it seems like it works by recording IR signals as audio, and then re-broadcasting by playing the sounds. Actually that's kind of interesting.

      But, it would work with any Mp3 player, so it's a little annoying that they focused on the iPod exclusively, when any digital audio player would work.

      It would also be a HUGE pain in the ass to actualy use, especialy if you've already got a pocket PC that could do all that already without all the work...
      • it seems like it works by recording IR signals as audio, and then re-broadcasting by playing the sounds. Actually that's kind of interesting.

        VERY interesting, as infrared wavelengths are a few orders of magnitude above Nyquist for even the most high-fidelity audio DAC.

        So how's it work?
        • it works because the infrared signals from a remote are fixed-frequency, amplitude modulated. the frequency of the IR carrier signal is high, but the frequency of the amplitude modulation is nice and low. the iPod (or other audio player, to be politically correct) just stores the amplitude envelope, which the IR device uses to modulate the IR signal.
        • by juhaz (110830)
          It works the same way as your brain can sample someone sending morse-code with flashlight without needing to understand anything (color aside) about wavelength of visible light.

          Which is to say, IR phototransistor deals with receiving IR light, and the actual frequency of modulation on top of it is much lower, apparently under 44kHz.
    • "Why bother to use all these devices when you could just use a $10 or less Universal Remote from Walmart with a lot less futzing?"

      To learn more about how the technology works?

      How can you call yourself a nerd if you don't find the 'convert the IR to sound and back' process interesting?

    • you want a cool hack? try http://www.pixell.net/newton/
    • How cool can anything be that requires a PocketPC running WindowsCE ?
      Show me a version that uses a Linux-based device, or some cheaper IR-to-audio homebrew gadget, then I'll be impressed.

      Actually, that's what this screams for- an IR *reciever* device to match the Griffin IR gadget. Griffin, are you guys paying attention here ?

      I suppose it'd be even cooler if some enterprising EE type built a DYI IR send/recieve gadget for the iPod ( and provided me a schematic to copy ), now *that* would be cool. Still, y

    • A cool hack would be controlling your iPod via a $10 universal remote from Walmart.

      Ask and ye shall receive: an IR remote for the iPod [apple.com], whose commands any old learning remote can memorize.
  • by AxB_teeth (156656) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @11:18AM (#9812645) Homepage Journal
    It's a pad of paper. To turn it into a remote control, all you need is the pad of paper (of course) and a remote control.
  • Great... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Aphex Junkie (633436)
    Now maybe my family won't fight for the remote so much, especially when I tell them that one wrong move turns it into a $300+ paperweight!
  • by sulli (195030) * on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @11:18AM (#9812649) Journal
    That would cause all kinds of fun at your local sports bar.
  • by Mignon (34109) <satan@programmer.net> on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @11:19AM (#9812660)
    Hey, that's cool. And with this [germancarfans.com], you can turn your iPod into a car.
  • Yawn (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SYFer (617415) <syfer@syPOLLOCKfer.net minus painter> on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @11:19AM (#9812662) Homepage
    I guess "cool hack" is in the eyes of the beholder. To me, this sounds like a kludge (the Pocket PC, gadget and iPod). And all for what? That tired old, barely useful remote control "hack."

    • Actually, this is pretty neat compared to most iPod text-file "hacks". They record little songs that are the IR waveforms, then play them from the headphone jack with the IR accessory. You only use the Pocket PC to record the initial IR waveforms. There's no reason you couldn't do a similar thing with a regular PC and IR detector, or possibly a laptop. There's also the possibility of making downloadable packs of audio files that could be traded for different remotes or audio equipment, so all you need is t
    • I guess "cool hack" is in the eyes of the beholder. To me, this sounds like a kludge (the Pocket PC, gadget and iPod). And all for what? That tired old, barely useful remote control "hack."

      Hardly. Did you see what they replaced with this 'tired hack'?

      From the article:
      for example in our place we have our iPod controlling our TV, DVD Player, Direct TV, Ultimate TV PVR, Media Center PC, Xbox, XM Satellite Radio, Roomba and a few other random things like a Robot.

      If you have access to a Pocket PC for

    • I guess "cool hack" is in the eyes of the beholder. To me, this sounds like a kludge

      Ah, the many definitions of 'hack'.

      One accepted definition is 'making something do something it wasn't intended to do'. As in 'phreakers were early hackers'. In this case playing an audio file to transcieve it to IR easily qualifies.

      'Hack' can also mean kludge, crack, program, etc.
  • by adzoox (615327) * on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @11:20AM (#9812668) Journal
    Griffin demoed the PodMate at the 2002 MacWorld Expo. They were controlling a Sony TV and Stereo at their booth with one of these devices. Apple asked them not to develop it further for some reason.

    They scrapped the plans and then made it part of their Griffin Mobile division - selling it for the iPaq originally.
  • by wfberg (24378) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @11:21AM (#9812682)
    Is that you can, apparently, just hook up an infrared transceiver to a standard 3.5mm earphone/microphone plug..

    So really, you only need the infrared-tranceiver-plug and some software to record sound. You sample the "sound" that comes from the tranceiver, then plug it into lineout and play back..

    Of course, you can also hook up a microphone to your TVs tranceiver, and just play the recorded sounds out loud. Kind of like an old school "clicker" remote control that worked by audio. In fact, you could probably, with enough training, learn how to shriek directly in television-ese!

    Captain crunch would approve.
    • It sounds kind of similar to an idea I cooked up late one night while doped up on too much caffiene.

      It involved wiring my Sony Mini-Disc deck to my PC and writing a program that converts data to blips, and a reader program that converts it back, so I could use all those mini-discs I had for something really cool.

      But then I thought how much a pain in the ass it would be to write the assembly code so that it was fast enough to even think about using it. I'm also unsure how fast the Sony MD-deck is capable
      • Uh, I hate to disappoint you, but that's been done before. On computers like the Commodore 64 and Sinclair Spectrum, this was the standard way to store data.
        I think the ATRAC encoding would play havoc with your data, and even if it didn't, unless you used some funky encoding scheme (e.g. QAM) you'd end up with at most 20 kbit/s.
  • The remote control perpetually wins the category of "most dropped electronic device in a typical home." Good way to scratch the iPod.
  • by m1kesm1th (305697)
    A) Connect Pocket PC
    B) Connect Other Device
    C) Figure Out How to Connect IPOD
    D) Write Slashdot Article

  • It's a neat hack, but it's a neat hack that doesn't require an iPod or a Pocket PC... just a Griffin IR transceiver (or a handmade one, though you're unlikely to be able to make one as cheap and compact) and something to record and play back the 'sound' of the IR.

    Put the control signals in your ringtone, and turn your TV on by calling your cellphone. Use custom ringtones and call from different phones to change the channel, adjust the volume, ...
    • Put the control signals in your ringtone, and turn your TV on by calling your cellphone. Use custom ringtones and call from different phones to change the channel, adjust the volume, ...

      Cool idea, but doesn't this mean that your celphone is now restricted to being next to your TV, and you need to use your home phone to change channels (or another cel I guess), and that there's a multi-second lagtime? The whole IR->Sound concept does have a lot of intreguing hack possibilities to it though.
      • Cool idea, but doesn't this mean that your celphone is now restricted to being next to your TV

        Sure, it's about as practical as the jet-powered beer cooler. It's 'geek performance art'. Putting an IR control on your iPod isn't that much more practical... I have a remote control package for my PDA that works great... but it's not practical if you don't keep your PDA by the TV.

        On the other hand, you can get a cheap flash-powered MP3 player for under $50 and make a 'stealth' IR control out of that... then wa
  • Say what you will, this still beats Sony's latest entry [slashdot.org]. in the remote-control realm on price, if not on coolness, functionality, ease of use, form factor or support.
  • Let's see....

    Take a relatively expensive toy,

    Add a big ugly knob,

    Trade in a lot of your one-touch buttons for lots more scrolling.

    Surf for a while, simmer and search for proper recorder hacks. Cross fingers, will serve a few, frustrate many.

    But it's cool as hell. Looks like a headache, but I can't not try it.
  • We have all heard of those "One For All" remote controls. Well if you need all these different devices to use it ; isnt it more of a "All For One" system?

    For some reason I'm thinking of the Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds [80snostalgia.com]
  • DMCA (Score:2, Interesting)

    by bkruiser (610285)
    If you publish your IR commands are you violating DMCA? Who will be the first to have a catalogue of IR .mp3 files sued by Matsushita/Sony/JVC for DMCA violation? On the otherhand it could be another way for those companys to make money... charge a dollar per command?
  • by nurb432 (527695)
    Just spend a few bucks on software and you can use the pocket PC as a remote control now..

    This 'make your ipod into a bla bla' is silly..

    Its like killing termites with a flame thrower..
  • Cooler Hack (Score:5, Funny)

    by teamhasnoi (554944) <(teamhasnoi) (at) (yahoo.com)> on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @11:26AM (#9812745) Homepage Journal
    I just plug the IR bit into my guitar - now I play 'Sweet Child o' Mine' to change channels to Adult Swim, and 'Devil Inside' to change to C-Span.

    It's really quite intuitive.

  • The premise is valiant. It seems like itching your left ear w/your right hand by going over the top of your head - why not just use the PDA to play the "sounds"?
    I am waiting for the perfect convergence of all home electronics, appliances and climate/house controls "broadcasting" their capabilities (all with a lock-out, so my neighbor cannot turn on my stereo at 3am and play some Barry Manilow!) to a device (or PC), allowing a PDA-style remote to visually control them all (or even the web).

    There are some
  • by Ars-Fartsica (166957) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @11:27AM (#9812765)
    Lots of interesting angles coming out for exploiting a wearable, portable data store. Seems like this was the proposition of the Java Ring, but that assumed too much bandwidth. People still need to carry their data with them until bigger pipes are easily available.

    Would be interested to see someone float a thin client based on using the iPod as the user identification/storage component. Lots of ideas come to mind once you assume the iPod is ubiquotous.

    • Would be interested to see someone float a thin client based on using the iPod as the user identification/storage component. Lots of ideas come to mind once you assume the iPod is ubiquotous.

      USB mass storage is ubiquitous enough; from thumbdrives that store 128MB to usb harddrive based devices (not just the iPod). Only trouble is, why would you plug in your data in a machine you don't trust? And if you did, why bother with a thin client, you can just have apps on your hard drive (especially Mac apps, jus
    • Frankly I'm not really sure what the point of the Java iButton was/is. I remember someone telling me that the initial demo at some conference involved collaborative computing. What is this, wonder twin powers? If anything it would be useful for authentication. The thing doesn't have enough code storage at this point to do anything really useful, and it's better to just run java apps on your cellphone.
  • Since most PocketPC systems have IR built in you could just stop there. Or you coul just spend 20$ and buy a remote. Why the hell would you want to drag an iPod into this I dont know. You may as well turn your car, toaster oven, or microwave into a remote.
  • by raytracer (51035) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @11:37AM (#9812860)

    If you take a $10 item, and modify it to replace a $1000 item, that's probably a good hack.

    If you take a $1000 item, and modify it to replace a $10 item, that's not a good hack. That's just stupidity.

    It takes no cleverness to waste money.

    There is much pleasure in useless information. [brainwagon.org]
  • by stinkyfingers (588428) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @11:39AM (#9812883)
    You know what would be REALLY cool? Turn my remote into an iPod. Now there's a mod I could get into.
  • by John Jorsett (171560) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @11:39AM (#9812888)
    I can't imagine the combination of boredom and wealth that would lead me to want to do this to an iPod. If you want something useful to hack, reverse engineer a Garmin GPS receiver so that I can modify one to calculate and show the coordinates of the target of a laser range finder. I'd rather use an existing piece of equipment like that instead of having to design and build my own.
  • Apple Hacking (Score:3, Insightful)

    by chia_monkey (593501) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @11:41AM (#9812917) Journal
    Does anyone else find it kind of comical that Apple, the company that revolutionized "easy computing", simple interfaces, simple industrial design, etc has become a geek's haven for hacking? OS X with their BSD underpinnings gives the UNIX geeks so much to play with. Newton diehards are hacking the crap out of it to keep it "alive". People are hacking iPods in so many different ways. All this for a company that takes pride in their "we make computing easy for you". I wonder what will be hacked next. Guesses anyone?
    • On the face of it, it might seem ironic, but there is a long tradition of mac hacks of various mac technologies (res edit, for example). The difference today is that mac hackers and tweakers have much more to explore and much more potential power.
  • Replacing the iPod with a bowl of grits? Or ham and cheese sandwich bought at the gas station?
  • Spend at least $249 for the Ipod, a couple of hundred for a pocket PC, etc. thats over $400 bucks for an IR only Universal, plus the time of putting it together. Not to mention the clunky interface, when you could buy THIS [hometheatermaster.com] and controlly everything via RF + IR from anywhere in your house, plus a streamlined, easily programmable (from windows sorry) control interface (took me 10 minutes to set up DVD, Reciever, Cable BOX, and 3 TV's).

  • All you need is an iPod, an automobile, and some crazy glue! I love my AppleCar, and hope that you can appreciate my hack!

  • IR - Audio (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jadsky (304239) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @11:48AM (#9812998)
    This project [thecodeproject.com] describes the most interesting part of this hack... converting the IR into a waveform in the first place. That Griffin gadget is fascinating.

    The article talks about how you read off the IR codes in the first place, and convert them into usable waveforms. It uses C# targetted for PocketPC. I found the underpinnings of this hack far more interesting than the hack itself.
  • by moronga (323123) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @11:51AM (#9813030)
    Reminds me of a Dale Gribble quote from King of the Hill:

    "If you want, I can show you how to make a bomb out of a roll of toilet paper and a stick of dynamite."
  • Jingling a ring of keys or pouring a handful of change from one hand to the other would operate the TV.
  • One of the comment posters on the site pointed to the Logitech Harmony [logitech.com] universal remote which looks pretty neat.

    The poster claims its an XML compliant universal remote - although I couldn't find the information on the website (admitidally I only looked briefly).

    One downside is that it's very expensive ($299) but one cool thing is that it has support for TV channel guides built into the remote.

  • Ok that's cool but when are you going to turn an universal remote controller in an iPod? THAT would impress me!
  • by ZackSchil (560462) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @12:37PM (#9813500)
    Jesus fucking christ, people. You're like a bunch of five-year-olds. Huhuhuhuh... let's read the misleading summary and make fun of it!

    The hack is to record the IR pulses as sound files and play them back with an IR LED connected to the iPod's headphone port. It's a really smart and cool idea but I guess you guys wouldn't know one of those if it bit you on your collective ass.

    The reason the article calls for a Pocket PC is because it can read ifrared signals and pass those to the headphone jack for output. If you just piped the IR port on a computer to the sound out device, you'd have the same solution, minus the Pocket PC. This is NOT like the stupid-ass iPod to iPod transfer "hack" from a while ago. This is an actual neat concept that I'd wish you'd stop shitting all over with your ignorance.

    Thank you.
    • Although, I have to ask... how cool can something be which requires a PocketPC running WindowsCE ??

      Now, show me a version using a Linux handheld, or a cheaper IR-to-audio gizmo, then I'll be impressed.

      • Thank you for reading my post. I love how it got modded flamebait at first :)

        At the end of the article they offer instructions for a $6 DIY IR adaptor, though I think I'd buy the Griffin device because it's cheap enough and looks slick. I too would like instructions to do this without the PocketPC. I have an Apple Powerbook running Mac OS X with an IR port recognized by the system. I'll see if I can get that to record the sounds and write my own article on doing without the PocketPC.
        • I've noticed that some mod-nazis on /. are really language-sensitve. Protect the script kiddies from obscenity!!

          a shocking number of /.'ers view not reading the FA as a god-given right, too, I've seen plenty of 'please RTFA' articles get modded down.

          I should clarify that I was talking about an IR *reciever* IR-to-audio device, not something to replace the Griffin, though it is cool that they showed a DYI version of that gizmo. I'd want to do it without the pocketPC. I bet you could totally do it with your P

    • The hack is to record the IR pulses as sound files and play them back with an IR LED connected to the iPod's headphone port. It's a really smart and cool idea but I guess you guys wouldn't know one of those if it bit you on your collective ass.

      Maybe it was smart, but in the end, the summary is accurate: Take an iPod and an adapter and a Pocket PC and make something pedestrian out of it.

      The only way this is "cool" is if it's a way to test an idea that might have some rational use. That might be the case.
      • I agree that if it reqired the PocketPC, it would be stupid, but the PocketPC is just being used for the sake of making the task of recording IR easy with no software voodoo. I think the idea of using an iPod to control a lot of elements in a complex home entertainment setup is very cool and very useful.
      • Good point. I guess the way I look at it is this: Doing something wacky with hardware is all OK by me, but if I were doing it, I'd expect to take some shit for it. :)

        I do think there's value in doing something just for the sake of doing it. I also think it's OK to like what someone does while also giving them a hard time about it. It still seems impractical to me.
      • > Otherwise, no matter how cleverly done, they still have just taken 2 very expensive things and
        > combined them to do the job of one very inexpensive thing. That's just begging to be ridiculed.

        Yea your pretty much right.
        Apple took two very expesive things (A macintosh computer, and a custom hardware device called an iPod) and combined them to do the job of an inexpensive thing (walkman, discman, personal PC built with $50 of parts) and we all saw how rididculed the iPods were... Of course we see ho
    • The hack is to record the IR pulses as sound files and play them back with an IR LED connected to the iPod's headphone port. It's a really smart and cool idea but I guess you guys wouldn't know one of those if it bit you on your collective ass.

      It was a cool and novel idea WHEN OTHER PEOPLE HAD IT BEFORE THEM.

      THE WHOLE AUDIO to IR THING IS WHAT'S ALREADY BEING DONE WITH THE POCKET PC.

      This "hack" is just plain lame. Griffin's stuff is doing all the work. The ipod is doing NOTHING useful in the equat
    • The reason the article calls for a Pocket PC is because it can read ifrared signals and pass those to the headphone jack for output. If you just piped the IR port on a computer to the sound out device, you'd have the same solution, minus the Pocket PC. This is NOT like the stupid-ass iPod to iPod transfer "hack" from a while ago. This is an actual neat concept that I'd wish you'd stop shitting all over with your ignorance.

      What the article hasn't explained (and you haven't either) is why they'd want to b

  • by ChuckleBug (5201) * on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @01:30PM (#9814147) Journal
    I figured out a way to turn an Airport Extreme station into a dirt hauling and delivery system! You'll also need a dump truck, some super glue, and a back hoe!

    My next project involves making a blow torch into a toaster. Also required are an X-Y plotter, some hardware cloth, and a surveyor's transit.

    I'd like to tell more, but I have to go to the can. Normally, I'd use toilet paper, but I figured out this thing with a power drill and a corn cob...
  • by Brianwa (692565)
    You could use just about any device that can record and play back a sound wave to do this. I think now they mass-produce chips that let you record a short soundclip and play it back. You could use one of these (or any mp3 player, or even casette player, etc) to imitate a sequence of button-presses from multiple remotes. This could be useful for someone who just wants to watch a DVD rather than juggleing remotes so he can get to the correct screen.
  • Hey, if enough people got together and traded signals for different remotes then you could have a website where you could just look up your remote model and then download the playlist for it. Kind of like a CDDB for remotes...

    All you would have to have then would be the $10 piece of hardware and no iPaq, etc.

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