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I am working on a remote-controlled (IR) lightswitch. This is pretty easy with an Arduino; you just do serial I/O with an IR receiver/transmitter to read "ON" and "OFF" signals.

I want to know if this kind of thing is possible without a microcontroller. Do there exist IC's that send/receive a pre-defined pattern (and then activate a pin if one of those patterns is recognized?)

I want something similar to a multiplexer; if I activate a set of pins, how can I output that pattern, like morse code, to my LED? Similarly, how could I read in such a pattern?

Is there a category of IC's, pertaining to logic or communication, that I might want to be aware of?

The reason I ask is:

  1. I am a software guy. So "just programming it" is really easy, and I would like to learn more about ICs and using them.

  2. I plan to make a few of these, to give to my buddies and put in different rooms of the house. It would be cool if I could use standard parts, rather than having to program a chip every time I wanted a new one!

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  • \$\begingroup\$ uC's are standard parts. I would just use one. Need not be an arduino. \$\endgroup\$ – russ_hensel Apr 23 '11 at 15:45
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Holtek produces a series of encoder/decoders, which are often used in cheap (China made) remote controlled wall outlet kits.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for this! It looks like I was looking for "encoder/decoder" chips; I had no idea what the generic name was for this kind of IC, or if it even existed. Follow-up: do you have any examples or walkthroughs for projects that use these? (you can imagine that "encoder/decoder" brings a lot of google results.) \$\endgroup\$ – rascher Apr 23 '11 at 20:06
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In my youth we used shift registers. A bit hazy now, but I believe one was 74165. Use a few of the parallell inputs as start and stop bits, and the ones in the middle as data bits. A simple clock circuit would run the shift continuously when a key pressed.

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