PTAC Button Pusher

This is post is a follow up to my “Universal Button Pusher” at:

Here is a picture of a PTAC (heating and air conditioner system) that I wanted to help someone control, and a closeup of the control panel:

IMG_20160212_161002 IMG_20160212_162455

As you can see the control panel is recessed pretty far into the unit. Also the buttons are quite small and relatively flush with the panel surface. Unfortunately this model does not come with a remote control and is only controllable via this control panel. There are a number of mobility impairments that would make this type of control panel either extremely difficult or impossible to use.

The person I was trying to help could see the control panel including the temperature display and other indicators, but was unable to hit the buttons. Due to ownership concerns, direct modifications to the PTAC electronics were not an option, nor was finding a way to move the control panel up out of the unit housing. To get around this I attempted to setup a button pusher (controlled by IR remote) that would control the PTAC.

Here’s a video of this button pusher in action:

Here are some pictures of how this button pusher evolved over several iterations till it could easily and consistently hit all the buttons:

IMG_20160213_160225 IMG_20160213_170201

IMG_20160213_172755 IMG_20160213_185443

An interesting question was how to mount the button pusher without permanently modifying the PTAC itself. I evaluated several ideas including clamping to the vent grill. In the end I used the same strong magnet (red) I used for my previous refrigerator project and it worked perfectly.

Final prototype setup for evaluation, including the IR sensor and IR remote:


Enclosure around final electronics:


All the logic for listening to the IR remote and controlling the servo motors in the button pusher is running on an Arduino Uno. You can view the code at:

The metal brackets are from these 2 companies:


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