Pew Pew! Televisions are toast when you build this project, a universal TV zapper made with just your Circuit Playground Express. This guide will not only show you how to make a DIY universal remote, we'll also show how to grab data using a logic analyzer, parse it with Jupyter notebooks, compress it to fit into our little CircuitPython boards, and take advantage of the Python eval function to dynamically load data into memory.

BUT FIRST...a story...

When I first made the Circuit Playground (a.k.a the 'Classic' AVR based one) I showed it off to my inspirational friend Mitch Altman. Mitch is a wonderful maker who travels to events and maker spaces to teach people soldering and electronics. We met over a decade ago when our mutual friend pt suggested we work together on the TV-B-Gone kit. See, Mitch had been making and selling the TV-B-Gone, which looked like this:

And that one LED could reach pretty darn far, maybe 50 feet. But we wanted to see if we could design one that would go 300 feet! So we worked on a kit version and made this:

Angled assembled TV-B-Gone kit in dramatic lighting.
When we were putting together the TV-B-Gone kit, we started imagining a dystopian future, filled with televisions, where this kit would be super useful and we'd be a hero...
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With a total of four high powered LED blasters. It worked great, and Mitch, as we said, goes to events and does workshops, so this was a popular workshop kit.

But back to the tale at hand, I showed him the Circuit Playground and he said that it was really neat but if it had an IR LED it could act like a TV-B-Gone! And, frankly, I agreed. I couldn't fit an IR LED onto the original, but when I designed the Express version, I made some space for an IR LED and receiver. So, here we are!

In this guide, we'll build a TV zapper using just your Circuit Playground Express, a battery pack, and CircuitPython. We also have a bonus page for making a miniature zapper using a Gemma M0

You can use any CircuitPython board to make this project, but since the CPX has infrared built in, we're going to use that as the example hardware.

This guide was first published on Mar 18, 2018. It was last updated on Jul 25, 2024.

This page (Overview) was last updated on Mar 08, 2024.

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