Touchscreen remote for HA

Hi guys,

A year ago, I have started working on a custom made touchscreen remote as I couldn’t find anything out on the market that I liked and would have been easy to integrate with HA. And also wanted a challenge :slight_smile:

After a year of trial and error, learning about PCB design and trying to source all the components as well as spending way too much money on getting the desired finish I wanted on the parts, I managed to design and produce prototypes that are working.

So here it is (with an older version of the UI):

A fresh screenshot of the updated ui:

Hardware
Dimensions: 185x54x10 mm
Case: CNCd, anodised aluminium
Back cover: 3D printed
Proximity cover: 1mm smoked acrylic

It runs on a Raspberry Pi Zero W (I cut off the USB and HDMI ports for space saving) that is mounted on a custom designed PCB, which has battery charging IC, boost circuit (basically a modified PowerBoost 1000C), has FCP connectors for the display and the touch controller. This PCB also has an ADC to monitor the battery levels. A secondary PCB is connected to this one which has an APDS9960 proximity/gesture sensor on it that I use to control the display brightness and to have gesture input, so you don’t necessarily have to touch the remote when watching a movie and have popcorn fingers :slight_smile:

The display is a 3.5" 480x800 high resolution capacitive touchscreen panel with a glass cover (Sharp LS035Y8DX04A), that runs in 18bit mode.

On the back I have a momentary capacitive touch button to turn the whole thing on.

It currently runs on a 2000mah battery and it lasts around 6-8 hours depending on use.

It has a charging dock that connects to the remote with pogo pins. Nothing special on that one, it’s basically just takes a microUSB and connects it to the corresponding pins.

Software
The OS is built with buildroot to have just the necessary things in it.
The software itself is written in QML with Qt. There are also some python scripts that run in the background dealing with standby modes, etc. as well as monitoring the battery. The software communicates with Home Assistant via websockets and the scripts are also using websockets to communicate with the main app. The whole thing is very snappy.

There are some basic battery saving functionalities and some very little optimisation in the software itself. I’m not a developer nor a mechanical engineer, so I’m learning as I’m working on this project.

But so far (past 1 year) the whole thing is pretty stable and I am using it daily.

Right now I can control the lights, heating, blinds, music and Apple TV, harmony devices. It’s kind of hardcoded to my needs, but that is something that will change.

Currently I am working on the next version, which will have a 2500mah battery, more advanced battery monitoring, 3 physical buttons and a pulsating LED on the charging dock :slight_smile:

Also updating the software part to prepare it for a public release if you guys want to give it a go. I am trying to build it in a way that it could also live on a bigger screen, for example a 7" Raspberry Pi touch screen.

And last but most important, continuously polishing the design :slight_smile:

I am hoping that in a couple of months, I will have the second prototype ready and functioning. My plan is to release all the schematics and files for this project, so anyone can build it.

Meanwhile I’m working on the new version and the updated software, if you guys have any ideas or thing you’d like to see in this, please let me know :slight_smile: Would you build something like this? Would you rather have it as a kit? Any ideas are welcome!

Cheers,
Marton

Update
Github page: https://github.com/martonborzak/touch-remote

106 Likes

Amazing project!

1 Like

Amazing work! That looks incredibly professional.

I’m sure there would be interest, from myself included. I think one of the questions would be price, but also how the software is written. I’m assuming if someone were going to build this from a kit, they would have to either start from scratch or have a base “program” and have to build the UI for their specific house? It doesn’t look like it’s pulling the UI down from HA.

Thank you!

The price is quite high at the moment as I’ve only built 2-3 remotes. I’m sure with quantity it goes down. I’ll try to get some estimates.

The software is custom as well as the UI. How it works right now is that I’ve created modules for lights, blinds, etc. and there is a config.json file which I edit if I want to add more entities. I can imagine it working in the following way: when you first launch it, it asks for wifi credentials, then home assistant ip and token, then connects to home assistant and pulls all your devices. Then you could select from that list, which entities you’d like to add to the remote. Otherwise you can just go and modify the source code :slight_smile:

4 Likes

LOVE LOVE LOVE! nice work - would love to see your latest parts list and be able to assemble one of these :slight_smile:

Looks fin alsum

Put me on your list as tester as a builder and as gopher

i love how it looks.
but i just wonder, could that not all be done with a dedicated old smartphone as well, with existing programs?

it would probably be way less expensive and no need to create special hardware.
what do you see as advantage from this? (except that you learned that you can do it)

1 Like

This is insane! Hugely impressive! Very professional looking, using advanced technology and very well thought out. If Loewe or some other German premium brand was to make a remote control for home automation, this would be it! I am looking forward to following your progress. I understand the per unit price at the moment is high, but could you give a ballpark figure where it’s at?

This looks awesome. I have a harmony hub with the non-touchscreen remote right now and have been looking at getting the elite to have a nicer touchscreen remote, but looks like I’ll be waiting to see how this pans out now. Can’t wait.

Loved your work. I have seen lovelace remote control cards in the community and they should work great on this remote. if the touch response is good this could be the very next thing every one will recommend instead of harmony remotes. Also just an opinion I would go with 3D printed case to bring down the cost. Let me know if you need any help with 3D modelling new version case.

This looks truely amazing! I’m very interested to build something similar, but to be hanging mostly on the wall, yet be detachable and function as a non-fixed remote.

I think this could be automated using a HASS module and Bluetooth. Basically exchange the necessary pairing information over Bluetooth with a purposefully-built HASS component.

Thanks guys!

@ReneTode An old smartphone could be used, but I quite like the idea of having a purposefully built device. It looks better and feels better. Other than that, not much :slight_smile:

@osja and others I’ve just did a real quick ballpark on costs. Please keep in mind that these prices are for the production of 1-5 pieces. This shows especially with the CNC & PCB.

  • PCB manufacturing, assembly, incl. parts $60
  • Case CNC, anodising $80
  • Back cover 3D print $28
  • Dock 3D print $45
  • Screen $50
  • Plus small amounts for pogo pins, etc. Mainly from Aliexpress for $1 average :slight_smile:

@TerroBladeZ Thanks! I have tried to run a browser on a Raspberry Pi but the performance was not good. That’s why I decided to create a native running app. Now it’s snappy and fast. The touch response is really fast. Here is a video of the remote in action:

@kirichkov Thank you! The bluetooth pairing is a cool idea. I’ll look into it, but as I wrote before I’m no developer so not sure I’ll manage. But maybe someone can pitch in :slight_smile:

7 Likes

Wauw looks awesome,
For someone who wanted a challenge great work.
Definitely want to help out developing / testing

Respect! This looks incredible and like the others said far better than commercial products out there!

Not at all as bad as I would have thought. Good job on the sourcing too I guess!

Where and how can i make one myself?

unfortunately the video doesn’t work :frowning: But RESPECT!!! I would highly be interested in this remote and ready to pay the price :slight_smile: If there’s any chance to get one … please PM me :slight_smile:

Really nice man, love it.

That pi is killing your power though, it’s more work but you should look into swapping that out for something like an esp32 so you can deep sleep while it’s not in use. Your battery would last much longer that way.

You should do an instructable, I’m interested in how you did the case.

Thank you all! All the kind words make me work more on the project :slight_smile:

@thundergreen I have updated the video link. It should work now.

@ryanrdetzel I’ve looked at the esp32, but I don’t think it can get me the same performance as a raspberry pi. I am doing some power management. Dimming the brightness after 10 seconds, putting the display into standby mode after 5 more seconds, turning off the wifi after 10 minutes and at the end, turning off the remote itself if not used for 2 hours. Probably there are more ways to optimize it.

The new design’s 3D prints are on the way, I’ll test the fit and then order a batch of PCBs. If everything works out well, I’ll upload the schematics, gerber files, source code, etc. It’s gonna take some time, but I’d like to get something out there that is “easy” to assemble.