Guide to Remote Control and Automation Techniques: Introduction and Article Index

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A practical, step-by-step guide to designing, building, and installing remote control and automated systems.

• Covers light, heat, and tone sensitive devices.

• Completely revised and updated to include the robotic technology.

• New material on opto-isolators, sensors, motor controllers, and analog/digital converters.

Here is an opportunity to put your electronics knowledge to work, in exciting and practical ways, right in your own home -- ways that can make your life more comfortable, convenient and secure! Build a garage door controller, a sprinkler system control, an intercom control system, outside light control, computer, and home-theater remote controls and much more! From how-to’s for analyzing your control needs to finding the electronic and mechanical systems to do the job, all the in-depth guidance and do-it-yourself advice you’ll need is included in this unique volume.

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This amazing guide brings both mechanical and electronic systems into sharp focus for anyone interested in basic information on the development of both remote control and automation technology. We have placed special emphasis on the dramatic changes made in the field by microelectronics and the use of computers with expanded functions made possible by new technology. Included are expanded reviews of pressure, gas, and temperature sensors. Plus, there’s a whole new section, exploring the newest advances in robot technology—including ideas that you can use to design and experiment with to develop your own homebuilt robot!

1. Fundamentals of Control: Closed-Loop and Open-Loop Systems—Planning a Control System—Deciding What to Control

2. Sensors and Indicators: Sensor Specifications — Electrical Sensors—Mechanical Position Sensors and Indicators—Continuous Position Sensors—The Voltage Comparator—Graphic Position Indicator—Light Sensors—Opto-isolators—Motion Detector—Gas Sensor—Hall Effect Magnetic Sensor—Pressure Sensors—Temperature Sensors—Multiplexing—Synchro Indicators—A Moisture Sensor

3. Mechanical Devices: Levers—Orders of Levers—The Pulley—Rotary Motion—Rotary to Linear Motion—Inertia—Practical Mechanisms

4. Hydraulic Systems: Pressure—Motor Driven Hydraulic System—Hydraulic Pumps—Hydraulic Motors—Hydraulic Actuators—Hydraulic Valves—Hydraulic Lines and Connections—Pressure Operated Switches—Mechanical Coupling to Hydraulic Actuators—Controlling Fluids and Liquids

5. Electric Motors and Solenoids: DC Motors—The Series Motor—The Shunt Motor—The Compound Motor—The Universal Motor—Motor Controllers—Reversing Motor Direction—Limiting Rotation—AC Motors—Motor Ratings—Motor Servicing and Repair— Solenoids

6. Electrical Control Devices: Latching Relay—An Improved Homemade Latching Relay—Control System for Latching Relays—Control Switches—Solid-State Control Devices—Snubber Circuits—Radio and Television Interference— TRIAC Control of AC Loads—A Latching Relay with a Triac—Dimming of Lights

7. Tone Operated Systems: Filter Decoding—PLL Decoding—Touch-Tone System—Touch-Tone Encoder—Decoding Touch-Tone Signals—Latching—Using the Decoded Signals

8. Light Beam, Ultrasonic, and Audible Tone Systems: TV Remote Control Systems—Audible Tones—Light Beam Control—Gating

9. Carrier Current Control Systems: The Problem—Selecting the Frequency—Tone Frequencies—Looking at the Power Lie—Power Line Measurements— Power Line Conditioning—The Carrier Current Transmitter—The Carrier Frequency Source—The Output Stage—The Complete Transmitter—The Carrier Current Receiver

10. Time Controlled Systems: Electromechanical Timers—The Time Base—Electronic Time Bases—Counting Minutes—Decoding the Time—Reading the Time—Non-24-Hour Clocks—The 555 Timer—The XR-2240

11. Practical Home Control Systems: The Main Control Box—The Power Supplies—The Garage Door Controller—Intercom Control System—Outside Light Control—Drapery Control—Stereo Volume Control—Other Control Switches—The Auxiliary Control Box

12. Closed-Loop Control Systems: Liquid Level Control—Automatic Temperature Control—An Attic Fan Control System—Automatic Lawn Sprinkler—Other Fully Automatic Systems

13. Computer Based Control Systems: Control Programs—Status Displays—Continuous Sensors—A/D Converters—D/A Converters—Getting the Computers Attention—Storing the Programs—Suggestions for Computer Control—A Sound Level Control System—A Computerized Temperature Control System

14. Interfacing the Control System with a Computer: Level Shifting—Wave-shaping—Switch De-bouncing—Noise—Getting Control Signals Out of the Computer—Interface Power Supply Considerations

15. Finding the Components: The Surplus Store—Household Appliances—Automobile—Power Supplies for Operating Automotive Components

16. Radio Control Systems: Legal Considerations Interference Problems—Commercially Available Components—Pulse Controlled Systems

17. Robots: Locomotion—Sensors Brains


It is amazing that so few electronics engineers, technicians, and hobbyists ever build electronic control systems to make life easier around their homes. Computer hobbyists in particular often tell of all the wonderful things their computers can do but few of these systems ever reach completion.

Perhaps this is due to the apparent reluctance of craftsmen to practice their crafts in their own homes. it's legendary that the pipes in a plumber’s home often leak and that a carpenter’s home is often in a state of disrepair. It may also be that a control system includes more than electronic components and the mechanical requirements are confusing to one whose expertise is primarily in the field of electronics.

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There is no question that the addition of a few electronics systems would make life easier in any home. When family members are disabled in any way, the systems are almost necessities. Al though the types of automation and remote control systems used in government and industry are too complex and expensive for home use, there are many simple systems that can be built for the home at low cost. Several such systems are described in this guide.

All of the systems described here have been built and tested. Most of them were built to make life easier for a girl who is confined to a wheelchair. In her case, they were necessities for normal living. Hopefully, you will find them as conveniences rather than necessities. Another advantage of electronic control systems is that they enable us to demonstrate the wonders of electronics to friends who have little knowledge of the subject.

The first section of this guide describes the basic principles of remote control and automatic systems. A functional analysis is given that relates the various parts of a control system and shows the similarity between different types of systems. Section 2 de scribes the types of sensing devices that can be used with most control systems.

The next three sections deal with things that the average electronics technician is apt to be somewhat unfamiliar with, such as mechanical devices, hydraulic systems and electric motors. Emphasis is placed on the aspects of these devices that are involved in interfacing them with electronic systems.

Seven sections are devoted to control devices of various types ranging from simple systems for controlling lights to systems that will permit opening doors by remote control.

Section 13 describes computer controlled systems. Section 14 deals with the problems of interfacing any of the systems in the guide with microprocessor systems that are becoming very popular with hobbyists.

One of the problems facing the technician who attempts to build a system that uses more than simple electronic components is finding the mechanical parts necessary to complete the system and make it operational. Section 15 is devoted to this problem. Particular attention is given to adapting components and systems that were originally designed for other purposes to home control sys tem.

In updating the this guide, I have tried to cover as many new or changing technologies as possible. Perhaps the biggest area of change since this book was originally written is in the area of computers. I have placed considerable emphasis on computer control in the new material that I have added.

I have also expanded the section on radio control, and added one on robots, which were not even mentioned in the first edition.

Additional material and suggestions for applications have been added throughout the guide. I certainly hope you find the information in this new edition useful and interesting.

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Updated: Tuesday, July 9, 2019 15:55 PST