IR automation


Senior Member
What hardware do i need to start using IR to automate task? Basically what i want is this. When i hit the DVD button on my Remote i want my Receiver to turn on and my DVD player to turn on and i want my Lights to dim to 20%.

My receiver has 3 Component inputs and 2 optical inputs. This becomes and issue because i really need an optical input for each Component input. I have found a work arround for this so that i dont have to swap out any cables but it requires me to change a few setting on my receiver everytime i want to switch from the XBOX to the DVD player. So basically i want to automate these changes.

Here is what i have to do.

I have to hit the system setup button on the remote
Then i have to arrow down until i find the Optical input option
Then i use the right arrow to change which video input mode corresponds to what audio mode.
Then i have to set the type of surround sound i want to use for that device. I.E. full 6.1 surround, virtual surround, front only, ect.

It gets to be a pain in the ass and i would like to simply hit one button on my Receiver remote and have homeseer or some other software take care of the rest.

So... What hardware and software do i need and how will it work?


Senior Member
The simple answer (which ignores your lights):

Just get a universal remote control that will let you store macros. You can record all of the button presses - then a single press will take care of what you need. Define different macros (on different buttons) to go back and forth.

An addition to that:

You can buy boxes that will automatically switch between optical inputs - i.e., several inputs with one output and the box connects the active input to the output. You may be able to use one of these to reduce the number of things you need to do. You may not - it depends on how the receiver needs to be configured.

To use HS or something similar:

You need to get information into and out of the computer. The input information may be IR but it could be something else. The output must be IR for this situation.

I am going to describe a configuration based on my system. I have the HS PC in one room and AV setups in two other rooms. What you will need to do is similar, but the details may change.

I use a USB-UIRT for IR out. I believe that IR in also works, but I've never tried it. I've certainly used it to learn the IR for my remotes. From HS, I can send any IR command that it has learned.

The output IR then goes into a wired IR distribution system using Xantech products. I have a cluster of IR emitters at each of my two AV setups. These are wired in two separate zones (because my receivers share common IR codes). My IR system is setup to be one-way only - output from the computer to the devices with no return codes.

This type of setup would be sufficient for getting HS or anything else to control your components.

The next step is to trigger HS and have it execute that process. You can use IR in to HS. You will need an IR receiver in the AV room and an emitter near the HS machine (if the PC is in the same room, you can use the IR receiver connected to the PC directly). These can be connected through the same wired system (and can probably be in the same zone). You can have an event in HS triggered by an IR signal and then run the appropriate script (as described above).

I would consider using a different approach to triggering HS, however. This approach assumes that you are able to get wireless x10 commands into HS and are willing to use another remote device. I use a W800 from WGL to get RF x10 into HS - an MR26A would work as well. In this approach, I would keep a PalmPad in the AV room. Set this PalmPad to a house code that you don't use for anything else - this becomes your "AV" house code. Each button on the PalmPad could be set to a different mode - XBox, DVD, etc. A nice thing about using the PalmPad for this is that it's very easy to label the buttons. Also, this would give you 16 different operations you could set up (on and off can do two completely separate things).

Using the RF approach, you don't need to worry about getting IR back to the PC. And it should be very straightforward to set up - both hardware and scripts.

This has been long-winded enough and I'm sure I've forgotten something I meant to discuss. If you have any questions, please ask. And if this doesn't really address what you want to do, please feel free to ignore it.

{edit follows}

I meant to mention wireless distribution of IR, too, using things like PowerMids. These work well if you only need to send IR in one direction (from PC to AV stuff). If you are in the same room, it's easier to use the wired approach. If you are in different rooms, the wireless is easier. I've had mixed results using PowerMids - they work well but I had problems with interference from something that would cause the receiver pyramid to continuously spit out IR - which interfered even with handheld remotes. Others have had more success with PowerMids.


Active Member
You could try an "add on" component switch that has all the required inputs, and use it to switch between 2 devices on one of your receiver's inputs. OR
I'm assuming you're already using some sort of optical splitter/combiner to get 2 optical cables on one input (and then your remote procedure simple assigns the optical input to the appropriate audio input.

Now, as far as how to do this, there are three ways.

1. Buy a macro-capable remote control, and program the key sequence and pauses in - not 100% reliable, because the remote does not know what the last state of your equipment is - but you can improve this reliability (and actually achieve 100% reliability) if your equipment has discrete commands and/or if you follow some of the work around posted at The bad thing about using the remote to house the macros is that you have to have keep the remote aimed at your equipment until all the commands are delivered.

2. Use HomeSeer. girder. or another program that can handle IR macros/events and program your key sequence to respond to an IR command from your remote. This has the same limitations as #1, but at least you don't have to keep the remote aimed at your equipment the whole time

3. Do #2, but put all the commands and logic in your IR hardware (I use an Ocelot). This has the advantage and weaknesses of #2, but with (probably) a little added speed.

Variations: To add even more reliability, you can incorporate some "status" logic into your #2 or #3. You can monitor what's on/off (and if you have 2-ways comms via RS232 with your receiver or other equipment) what the status of your receiver is. Here's an example of my "DVD macro."

I have an Ocelot, SECU16, and SECU16IR handling my IR and "detection." I have a Yamaha DSPAX1 that has all discrete commands (and will soon have a ML plugin for 2-way RS232 status). The rest of my equipment lacks discrete commands. I have current sensors on my HT equipment, wired to the SECU16, so I know the on/off state of each component. Here's what "macro" (contained in my Ocelot) looks like:
  • 1. Ocelot gets an IR match/trigger
    2. Ocelot looks to see if the TV is on, if it is on, it immediately switches the inputs to Component 1 (done via a workaround CH+, input, input, input - would not be necessary if I had discrete input commands). If the TV is not on, it issues a power command to the TV and starts a 20 second timer (my TV is RP, so it has a 20-second startup before it will respond to any input commands) While it's counting to 20, it goes on with the rest of the commands.
    3. Turns on the DVDPlayer if it's not already on
    4. Sends an On and DVD command to the receiver (whether it's on or not, because the commands are discrete).
    5. Dims the rope lights to 50% and turns off all other lights.
    6. If the TV was not already on when the sequence started, issues the appropriate input commands after the timer hits 20.
This is 100% reliable for me (except for the rope light dimming, because of my 1-way X10 module). I plan on replacing the dimmer on my rope lights with a Zwave dimmer, and then I can add a little more logic (the lighting portion of the macro are kept in HomeSeer, while the IR parts are kept in the Ocelot) So both can execute their portions simultaneously, and the Ocelot can't do Zwave (Kitchen light is Zwave). Ultimately I'll incorporate the 2-way comms with my receiver, my newly-installed blind controllers and more Zwave to really tidy-up this event.


Senior Member
Wow.... Thanks for the details guys.

Let me describe my setup... In my basement i have my PC which includes HomeSeer on it. That PC sits about 10 to 15ft away from my Home Theater equipment. It looks like the USB-UIRT would be the easiest solution for sending the commands but i am still not sure if it can actually receive IR commands.

Does anyone know if the USB-UIRT can receive IR commands and use them to trigger HomeSeer?

Since all my equipment is in my basement including my PC, A/V Receiver, Projector, DVD Player, Xbox and Z-wave controlled lights I want to try and do everything with one remote(Two Remotes MAX)

Currently i have 4 remotes i have to use and i have to use them often. My setup includes an Video and Audio feed from my PC. I have an RF remote for my PC which i use to navigate though songs and playlist for music. I dont use a font end to control my media, I simply use the mouse function of the remote to execute media player and select the files i want to play. Eventually i do want to run a Nice looking front end but have not had the time to learn about it yet.

I have a remote which controls my A/V. This is the remote i use the most. Its actually a pain in the ass and i have a hard time remembering what the setting need to be in order to get a certain device to work.

I have my DVD remote which i only have to use to push play and navigate the DVD menu before the movie actually starts.

I have my Z-wave remote which i can eliminate by using HomeSeer triggers with my USB Controller.

I also have a touchpad for X10 but i have never used any of my x10 equipment. For christmas i was thinking of getting one of those high dollar remotes which can controll all my stuff and has a fancy little LCD display and all that. I havent looked into those types of remotes yet but that is an option for me.

Have to run... ill finish up my thoughts later.


Senior Member
It sounds like you'll have plenty of options. If I remember, I'll check on the USB-UIRT when I get home tonight.

squintz said:
For christmas i was thinking of getting one of those high dollar remotes which can controll all my stuff and has a fancy little LCD display and all that. I havent looked into those types of remotes yet but that is an option for me.
Some of these remotes are pretty neat - but they strike me as way, way too expensive. The most I've spent on any remote (and I have a few I really like) was probably $20 (sale price). But that being said, I usually end up still using remotes out of my "pile" or using the HS front end.

I think you can find better uses for your money than the high-end remotes :huh:.

If you get your heart set on a fancy remote, then I'd definitely consider getting a wifi PDA instead and using something like netremote (I use my own ASP pages with HS). For $250 or so, you'll get a much more capable remote - including a much nicer interactive display.


Senior Member

On further reflection, I'm not entirely sure I understand the situation you are in. I do understand about switching modes on the receiver, but I don't understand what you are doing that does not also require changing cables.

I originally understood that you needed to switch your 3 devices with optical output into the 2 optical inputs on your receiver. But, on rereading I see that you are not swapping cables. Are you running the output of one device through the input (and output) of another?

Your receiver probably has a coaxial digital input and the DVD player must have one. Can't you connect the DVD using coaxial and use optical for the XBOX and the computer? This way you won't need to switch anything when you change sources.


Senior Member
smee... the xbox and DVD player only output optical signals when they are on. So i am using a 2 to 1(or 1 to 2) optical splitter connecting the xbox and dvd player into the same optical input. by only having one device on at a time it allows me toggle between audio sources without having to change cables.


Senior Member
Your DVD player doesn't have coax out? Or are you using the receiver coax input (I assume it has one) for something else?


Senior Member
Squintz said:
Does anyone know if the USB-UIRT can receive IR commands and use them to trigger HomeSeer?
Works perfectly. You need to learn the codes you want to recognize into HS. Then, just create an event that's triggered when that code is received.

Right now, I can point the remote at the USB-UIRT and press "1" and HS says "Sony TV 1" - the action that I told it to take in the event. You should be able to do anything you want.

Now, all I need to do is set up the RF receiver for my 15-2117 remote and I can do this from anywhere in the apartment.


Senior Member

My DVD player does have a coax out put i could not figure out how to turn it on(i didnt read the manual). Basically i am being kinda anal because i think optical is better. It ensures that i dont get any humm in the speakers. But i guess since the coax is digital also it would also eliminate humm.. My main fear is that i have a ton of power lines running all around my audio wires and i figured its impossible for optical to pick up the noise from these lines. so i wanted to do everything in optical.


Senior Member
Go with the coax out. I don't think you'll regret it. In fact, if you go to a lot of audiophile sites, you'll find plenty of arguments claiming that coax gives a better signal than optical (it's got a higher bandwidth, which shouldn't matter since it's the same data). Since the signal is exaclty the same, the sound should be exactly the same (unless there are variations in the digital transmitter and receiver circuits) - you won't notice a difference.

If there is interference, it probably won't show up as hum. Hum should only come from analog inputs.

The wiring around your stuff could not be any messier than mine and I have no problems. I would only worry about it for long runs, not runs between adjacent components.