Tag Archive | "infra-red"

Kit Review – Alan Parekh’s Infra-Red Jammer

[Updated 17/01/2013]

In this review we examine another kit which goes hand in hand with other mischievous items such as the TV-B-Gone – the Infra-Red Jammer kit by Alan Parekh of hackedgadgets.com. The function of this product is to create infra-red signals that are stronger than those from a normal remote control, thereby rendering it useless. Our jammer sends the signal out using four high-output infra-red LEDs, on the following frequencies: 30, 33, 36, 38, 40 and 56 kHz.

This is controlled by a small MCU that is included in preprogrammed form with the kit, so you don’t need to do it yourself. However, if you are building a jammer from scratch, Alan does allow the download of the hex file to program your own. However, please note that this kit is not an open-source hardware, so you cannot just start knocking out your own. But enough talking, let’s get building!

The kit is packaged in the typical minimalist fashion, the parts inside an anti-static bag:

bagss

Upon turfing out the contents, we find them to be:

contentsss

Unlike most other kit suppliers, I was very happy to see the IC socket included. It probably cost about 10 cents, but it can save someone a whole day of mucking about if they aren’t the best at soldering, and don’t have an electronics store nearby. Furthermore the PCB is solder-masked and silk screened nicely, and is of a decent thickness. Once again – if smaller companies can offer kits with such great PCBs, why cannot larger multi-million dollar outfits like Jaycar offer such great PCBs in their kits? Grrr. Anyway.

The assembly instructions have been compiled into a very neat and tidy book that is downloadable as a .pdf file. It is very clear and easy to follow, great for beginners or enthusiasts alike. So at this point it’s time to get soldering.

At first you need to decide upon the power output strength which is determined by R1 and R2 – for me, it’s all or nothing so I went for the high-power resistors. Thankfully values to use three output levels are included, so you will have some spare resistors at the end. Once those are in, the rest of the assembly is relatively straight forward:

pcbss

What did take me be surprise is the length of the leads on the two electrolytic capacitors – they were very short. This made mounting them difficult:

shortcapsss

However with a little perseverance they went in and stayed put. Although the jammer is activated for thirty seconds by pressing the button as seen in the photo above, there are also two pads on the PCB for another button… so you could, for example, mount the jammer under a lounge or inside an object, and have the button wired remotely. Very good idea:

extraswitchss

They are visible between the diode and the press button. Finally it was time to plug in a 9V battery and start jamming. Interestingly enough the PCB size matches the profile of a typical PP3 9V battery, so if you insulated the PCB with tape or another material, you could mount the PCB onto the battery:

9vsamess

As decided earlier, I chose the highest power output setting by using the low values for R1 and R2. At this point I was curious as to how much current the jammer will draw while operating – which turned out to be 209 mA:

209mass

So bear this in mind if you are going to spend the day jamming up things. You might want to carry a spare battery, or wire a couple up in parallel. But now it was time to get jamming and have some fun. The check of the infra-red LEDs was successful:

operatingss

A test at home showed it knocked out all the IR receivers on my sound and video gear from a distance of around 5 metres. I couldn’t try any further as a wall was in the way, but with the unit set to high power I’m sure it should be good for around fifteen metres at least.

Now when you press the button, the jamming will run for thirty seconds. However you can increase this by buffering up more presses – for example if you press the button three times the jammer will run for ninety seconds. If you were in a trade show, or somewhere you needed to create some mayhem, build a TV-B-Gone and one of these jammers. Turn off the screen then setup your jammer for a couple of minutes. You will drive the presenters positively nuts. Awesome!

Conclusion

This is another fun and inexpensive kit that can be used for hours on end in various situations. It was easy to solder apart from a couple of capacitors, and getting them in wasn’t really a problem once you held them in with some blu-tac. So if you’re looking for a gift for some trouble-makers, or just want to stop people changing the channel during the cricket, this kit is for you. It is available directly from Alan’s website here: http://alan-parekh.com/kits/ and is a steal for less than US$20 delivered.

In the meanwhile have fun and keep checking into tronixstuff.com. Why not follow things on twitterGoogle+, subscribe  for email updates or RSS using the links on the right-hand column? And join our friendly Google Group – dedicated to the projects and related items on this website. Sign up – it’s free, helpful to each other –  and we can all learn something.
[Note – this kit was a promotional consideration made available by Alan Parekh]

Posted in infrared, jammer, kit review, product reviewComments (0)

Kit Review – adafruit industries TV-B-Gone

[Updated 17/01/2013]

In this review we examine an easy to build kit from adafruit industries that offers literally hours and hours of fun, if you like to get up to some mischief – the TV-B-Gone. This fascinating little device is basically an infra-red remote control for televisions and some monitors. It has a microcontroller programmed with the “off” code for a wide range of display brands, and four very strong infra-red transmitting LEDs, two with a wide beam, and two with a narrow but longer beam.

Here is the little culprit in standard assembled form:

11

It is a very easy kit to assemble, once again the team at adafruit have published an extensive amount of information, from assembly tutorials to how it works, and even the design itself as the kit is open-source hardware. So in this article you can follow the assembly, and use of this bag of fun.

As usual, this kit arrives in a resealable, anti-static bag. After ensuring I had the correct parts, from the documentation on the adafruit website, it was time to follow the simple instructions and start getting it together. Now this will be the second time I have built a TV-B-Gone… the first one is in the photo above, and had me removed from a department store (thanks Myer…) – so this time I am rebuilding it to fit inside a typical baseball cap.

Soldering it was quite simple, the PCB is solder-masked and has a very well detailed silk-screen:

21

Just following the instructions, and being careful not to rush is the key. Another feature of adafruit kits is that the are designed very well with regards to troubleshooting. For example, you have the opportunity to test it before finishing. So at this stage you can fit the AA cells and power it up, if the LED blinks you’re all good:

3s

And we’re done… almost.

4s

For installation into the hat, the button and the LEDs will need to be a distance away from the PCB. At this stage I was not sure where to put the button, so for now it can stay on the side of the cap:

5s

Naturally you can use any momentary push button, however I will use the included example (above) with a length of wire. With this style of hat, especially a black one, slight bulges underneath the surface do not seem that apparent, however it is wiser to spread out the entire unit:

6s

Although thinner AAA cells could be used for the power supply, for a good day’s action you will want the extra capacity of AA cells, so we’ll stick with them for now. The next step was to wire up the LEDs. They were connected individually to the PCB with lengths of wire, and heatshrink was used to insulate and darken the legs:

7s

 

8s

9s

And finally the finished product, ready for insertion into a piece of clothing, or in our case – a cap:

10s

At this point it was time to take it for a test toast. The quickest way to test an infra-red transmitter is to look at the LEDs through a digital camera – it can display the infra-red wavelengths whereas the human eye cannot see them. For example:

Those LEDs can get very bright (in infra-red terms), and is also how night-illumination for digital security cameras work. If you had a lot of those LEDs pointing at a security camera at night, you could blind it. That gives me an idea…

Anyway…

Assembling the kit in this format gives you lots of options for hiding it. For example, you could:

  • put the PCB and power in a jacket’s inside pocket, and have the LEDs poke out the neck;
  • place them in a cap as we are;
  • use a large ladies’ handbag, with the LEDs out the top, and the button underneath a handle;
  • sew the LEDs into the head-cover of a hooded jacket (with some longer leads) and have the PCB, power and button in the pockets

So here are the LEDs mounted under the brim of the cap:

11s

If you are going to staple them in, be careful not to puncture the wires. The ends of the staple should come through to the top of the brim – in this case I covered them with black ink from a felt pen so they would blend in. The button lead’s position is down to personal preference, in my case the button is just poking out next to the strap on the back of the cap. So all I need to do is appear to scratch the back of my head to activate the TV-B-Gone.

And here is the finished product, with an unfinished author:

Well by now you want to see it working. So here you are… I went on a field trip wandering about the central business district of Brisbane, Australia:

My apologies for the shaky footage, doing this isn’t something you can really capture with a camera and a tripod. 🙂 The problem was getting close enough, or most places had either covered their IR receiver, had a brand of TV not recognised by the TV-B-Gone, or used a large monitor instead of a television. But it was fun nevertheless.

In conclusion, this is an easy to assemble kit which is fun and certainly will get you into harmless trouble. Again, this is the type of kit that would be good for those who are being introduced to the fascinating world of electronics (etc) as it is quick to build, and does something with the “real world”  that young people love so much. Or anyone else for that matter.

As much fun as it is to switch off televisions and advertising monitors, I would hope that end users will still be responsible with their TV-B-Gone use. Please head into a department store, your favourite eatery, coffee shop or mall and switch off the TVs.  However, please do not turn off displays in railway stations, airports or other places where the authorities will take offence. You will get in real trouble. Or if you’re feeling suicidal, go switch off the TVs at the OTB.

In the meanwhile have fun and keep checking into tronixstuff.com. Why not follow things on twitterGoogle+, subscribe  for email updates or RSS using the links on the right-hand column? And join our friendly Google Group – dedicated to the projects and related items on this website. Sign up – it’s free, helpful to each other –  and we can all learn something.
[Note – this kit was purchased by myself personally and reviewed without notifying the manufacturer or retailer]

Posted in adafruit, kit review, learning electronics, tv-b-goneComments (12)


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