One of the biggest complaints with the scoreboard has been with the remote control. In fact, we’ve hated it ever since we started, but we had a few reasons for sticking with it. Lately, though, we’ve been working hard to get rid of those reasons and move away from the old remote and towards one that will give us a LOT more capability. We’ve been trying out different remotes to see what works, what doesn’t, and how to make them awesome. Here are a few so far.
In short, the scoreboard is about to get a lot more awesome.
For the tech inclined, here’s what’s happening:
The prototype of the scoreboard uses an IR remote, essentially a universal remote. This is for a lot of reasons:
- Implementation was relatively easy. It only involved a single electronics component to receive the IR, and a single pin on the microcontroller. Some fancy code and I was on my way.
- The remote already existed. I could order it online and have it and I didn’t need to design a separate circuit board or a small enclosure or any of that.
- I didn’t need to worry about FCC approval for it. The remote was already FCC approved, and because it was using IR light, it didn’t need to pass emissions tests. It was just easy.
But there were some problems with IR:
- It’s directional, so you have to point it at the scoreboard.
- It’s not addressable, so if there were two scoreboards in a room, it could control both.
- It’s not fantastic in sunlight. If direct sunlight is blasting the remote, there is no way the remote control can compete and get a signal received correctly.
- It has limited range. It works great inside a room or court, but too far out and it gets really unreliable.
- It’s not scalable. Having to source these extra remotes is not good for the bottom line.
We’ve been wanting to solve these problems and more. With the RF remotes, we get a lot of benefits:
- Omni-directional (it works even if it’s still in your pockets).
- Much better range (so it really does work across a field).
- Addressability (so there’s no conflicts with other scoreboards, but it also means you could intentionally control two scoreboards with one remote).
- Size/design (doing it myself with RF means I can make the design however I want).
- Sunlight doesn’t matter.
There are some drawbacks:
- RF components are more expensive overall than the IR components, but we’re adding features.
- We now need FCC approval for the remote, which is acting as an intentional emitter, and subject to 47 CFR 15.231 (I know this without looking). It will need to pass inspection by a third party tester, and it will not be cheap.
- It’s a long road ahead to get the remote and receiver designed and tested and ultimately FCC approved.
In the long run, this is the right way to go for the scoreboard. It will remove a lot of the pain points that exist with the scoreboard, and it adds functionality that people have been asking for. Plus it adds a little bit of flair to the accessory switches, but that’s a little down the road.