IR Receiver for Ocelot (XBox 360 enhancement)

Jim Doolittle

Active Member
I am trying to provide a versatile system for the family to control A/V and HA. I want to be able to use voice control, web control, touchscreen control, PocketPC control, remote control and good old manual control. I have voice control, wbe control, touchscreen control and PocketPC control (which is really another form of touchscreen) all accomplished with HomeSeer.

Remote control is another issue in that I wish to be able to use macros with existing remotes and not buy a $1000+ remote. The need for this came about with my new XBox 360 (my Christmas present to myself that I opened early :lol:). I bought the Microsoft remote which is great for controlling XBox, DVD and MCE Extender features however it only controls TV and not the A/V system that TV and XBox 360 are connected to.

One option is the $100 Logitech Harmony remote which advertises being able to control stereo. Another is to take advantage of my existing system and provide even more capability. If I use an IR receiver mounted at A/V system and connected to Ocelot, I could use Ocelot/HS macros to do the rest of the work. Plus, Ocelot/HS would be aware of what commands were last used.

So, should I try IR receiver or just buckle down and get the Harmony remote or aim fo rboth? If the IR receiver is a good way to go, what hardware solution is recommended that I can run 30 feet to Ocelot?

Michael McSharry

Active Member
I had tried a Harmony 880 and did not like it, but other variants might have a better layout. I also did not like the constraints of having to gently restore the remote to its cradle to keep the battery charged.

What I have found to be very workable is use of the ocelot to perform the same function that the Harmony performs where a remote IR button is used to indicate a configuration and the ocelot CMAX is used to perform the configuration sequence.

What does not work very well is use of the ocelot for pure IR translation. This is expecially when dealing with volume or other continuous control. The latency going through the ocelot is noticable. If HS is added to the loop then much worse.

My objective was to configure my AV equipment to support the MCE interface and from there use the MCE remote to navigate. This remote handles 95% of my needs. For the the other 5% I either press the button on the equipment or use its dedicated remote.

If the objective is to make a super remote that replaces all other remotes then the ocelot will likely not do a good job because the single remote will not have the intuitive button layout to support the variety of equipment. (e.g. speaker selection, video routing, dsp mode, tuner scanning, transport controls, etc)

When other HA functions (e.g. X10-based) are added to the remote it just increases the complexity of the remote. My HA integration within MCE is only one direction as an event message display. I would not want to fire up MCE just to do some HA control or viewing. It does make sense, however, that a remote dedicated to the theater would have the ability to control the lighting in that one room.

The harmony and other multi-function display remotes provide a hybrid between pure remote and screen navigation to give a better shot at being able to consolidate functionality into a single remote. For infrequent use, the menu-based hierarchy on a remote is not worth the time to figure out each time it is needed.

Another problematic part of the harmony approach is that power toggle depends upon only the harmony performing the power control and that interruptions do not occur. A CMAX macro has the ability to use measured equipment power if such sensors have been installed.

I use an xantech amplified IR distribution block. The package I got from Worthngton included the receiver, block, and power supply. The small one has about 4 IR outs. I use the 10 output model. One of the outputs is moused to the MCE receiver via cat5. This MCE receiver is in my den so I can control MCE from either the family room where the xantech IR receiver is located or from the den. Video is also routed to both rooms. I suspect this has a similiar benefit of the 360.

Jim Doolittle

Active Member
Thanks Michael for the reply.

As I mentioned earlier I am looking for a vareity of solutions thinking that at least one will appeal to a given family member. Obviously, one needs to be careful or the various methods could result in a maintenance nightmare.

So far my PocketPC running NetRemote works great as an all-in-one remote. It was very tedious to build the screens myself but the end result is a very intuitive, for me, interface. Using this method, response is very fast (~1/2s) and uses NetRemote/hsGirder plug-in/HS/Ocelot. The downside is PocketPC needs to be on and connected to home network.

I will look for an IR receiver and try that for use with regular remote(s). You mention that this would be a little slow but it can't be as basd as hunting for a bunch of different remotes or using a not-so-intuitive universal remote...can it? I would basically set this up so that upon receipt of certain commands run IR macros.

Michael McSharry

Active Member
If you can find a remote with the button layout you like and has buttons that can be intuitively used for your macro trigger then the ocelot makes a great solution.

If you want the ocelot to translate every button push into some other IR (stop, play, volume up) then you have a possible quality of experience issue.

Figure about 1 to 2 seconds per button push for the IR to be delivered to the equipment from the ocelot. If you are surfing a TV channel guide then this speed really slows you down.

Jim Doolittle

Active Member
No surfing. Just simple macros that make sure that all equipment needed to perform a general function is provided. Over the years, I had several JVC components with their linking capability as well as Sony (sLink?) where you turn on a given part of the system, other parts turn on as needed. Never liked all components from a given manufacturer so I never had the fully operating.

With IR control via Ocelot, I do not have to have similar components.