(Flashback date: 12/April/1996)
Part of my moving back to my house after renovation, I was setting up my reading room/library, dozens of boxes with books to be unwrapped, sorted and put in its proper places.
While at it I came across my Under Graduation project report. I graduated from University of Madras in March 1996, after studying for 4 years Electronics & Communications Engineering (B.E.) at Sri Venkateswara College of Engineering, Pennalur, Sriperumbudur, Tamil Nadu.
The Project titled “Hand-Held Remote Keyboard for IBM PC-AT” was aimed at using an off the shelf TV Remote control as a keypad for PC-AT desktops. The project involved research and development of hardware and the supporting software on MS-DOS platform. I was part of four member team which consisted of G.Rajaji, K.Rajesh Kannan, N.Udaya Kumar & T.N.C.Venkata Rangan (myself). Each of us were good on different subjects, for instance Ji was good in designing and building Electronic circuits, Rajesh was good in research and study, U.D. was our calculations and maths guy, as for myself I took care of MS-DOS software programming. Yes, we made a great team.
One of the difficulty we faced was on sourcing in India (then) the necessary Infra-Red sensor (Sharp IS1U60 or equivalent). The big electronic firms had the product with them but were not willing to sell/donate 2 to 3 units we wanted, they talked of selling only 1000s of units. Finally we wrote through my cousin Sarathy R who was in U.S.A working in an electronics firm who managed to source it from their vendor contacts, then it was a matter of couriering it to India. Apart from the sensor, we found it difficult to identify the nessary components for the design including the Voltage comparator (LM324). Then the challenge of programming, reading raw values from the RS-232 serial port of IBM was non-trivial. But after many weeks we got everything working and it gave us the satisfaction of having designed and built something on our own.
This was certainly not a me-too project!!!
The universal remote control we used is shown below: