Everything you need to build your own Turn Touch smart remote

A four part series

About three years ago I was driving up the 101 coming back from a Demo Day and I had a lightbulb moment about the way I wanted to control my new Hue lightbulbs. That’s when the idea of Turn Touch was born. I’d had some experience building open source hardware projects for my home, and developing open source art installations for Burning Man at a slightly larger scale, but I had never thought I’d build an open source hardware project that would be commercially available (or at least available on Kickstarter).

Like many of you, I was one of those kids who took apart the stereos in my parent’s house to see how they worked. Since then I’ve been a full-stack engineer on most of my projects. Although I wasn’t quite sure how to build Turn Touch, I was committed to doing it, and learning how to build it from the ground up. At the Bay Area Maker Faire that year I stopped by the TechShop booth and signed up for one of their new member deals.

I build all my projects Open Source, so when I decided to start building Turn Touch I knew I wanted to document my process. My plan from the beginning was to release 100% of the knowledge, planning, and design behind Turn Touch as an open source project. Through building Turn Touch, I’ve learned what it takes to create not just one remote, but an entire manufacturing process. So that’s what I want to share with you in this series.

This is the full guide on how to make your own Turn Touch from scratch. This is the story of the design challenges faced when trying to make a seamless remote and how to overcome them. If you follow this guide, using the accompanying open source design files, then you will be able to build your own Turn Touch that you can use to control your smart devices and apps on your phone and computer.

Through open-source hardware like Turn Touch, I’m working to lower the barrier to entry when it comes to creating and manufacturing your own complex hardware devices. Sure, it’s not what you might call a “traditional business plan”. But I strongly believe that by helping other people use the same tools I use, our community of makers gets larger and more inventive.

At the end of the day, this isn’t a project devoted to turning a profit. It’s a project devoted to makers, wherever and whoever they are.

Pictured above and elsewhere in this series are all handmade prototypes. Turn Touch uses off-the-shelf components where it can, and only tools that are available to individual makers. No special tooling was required to build this remote. If you follow this blog series and use the included open source designs, you too can build a remote just like this.

I’ve broken this manual up into four sections. If you’ve done a bunch of machining my lessons may seem elementary, but the hardware part may be useful. If you’ve designed a bunch of hardware but have never worked with wood, hopefully this will lower your barrier to entry.

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