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My IR Integration

jrfuda

Active Member
Guys, I recently purchased some new IR hardware after years of settling for sub-100% reliability from my various IR hardware.

Here's how my new setup is:
Our%20IR%20Configuration.jpg


Before I had trouble getting IR into the Ocelot reliably, and had to really aim my remotes at my components in order to get them to respond.

Now I can point a remote just about anywhere in the living room, dining room, or kitchen and get a response from the Ocelot or appopriate component everytime! I'm using Xantech mouse emitters with covers on them, so the only way IR gets to any of the components is via the Xantech block.

I have all of the Xantech's outputs on low power, except for the output to the Ocelot, which had to be placed on high power in order to get 100% recognition.

The IR Links provide a safe and reliable way of getting IR between non-like devices and are a piece of cake to install.

The only problem I see so far is that the Powermids may introduce a littl enoise in the system. I haven't confirmed this yet, becuase my second IRLink is backordered, but I have noticed that the Powermid receiver seems to be blinking alot, which means it's getting some noise from somewhere. If the noise ends up making the system less reliable, i will have to switch to an IR-to/from-coax injector scheme in order to get IR from the master bedroom to the living room.

I have order a 3-channel modulator from parts express so I can feed some of the components in the living room to the master bedroom. The powermids or injectors will enable me to control these components from the master bedroom.

Just for giggles I tried learning some IR commands to the Ocelot from waaaay across the room, and it worked everytime! learning IR commands to the Ocelot used to be a royal pain in the arse! This technique works better than using the Ocelot's built-in receiver alone (It's just not sensitive enough) and better than using ADI's dongle (It's even less sensitive). The Xantech block amplifies incoming IR signals and ensures they get tothe components in a high-power format, ensuring recognition - and in the Ocelot's case - accurate learning.

The only catch to this setup is that you cannot have the Ocelot respond to anything that it can transmit itself, or it will be caught in a loop. I only have the 1st 40 spots in my Ocelot setup for IT recognition, and use them as triggers only. I used McIntosh IR codes, since I know I'll likely never own any McIntosh equipment, so they are only used as triggers and never transmitted.
 

electron

Administrator
Staff member
That looks great John! I have been dying to use my Ocelot IR input for a while now, but the Ocelot has problems processing fast commands (due to the design from what I understand). What do you do with the IR input, do you trigger macros?
 

jrfuda

Active Member
electron said:
... but the Ocelot has problems processing fast commands (due to the design from what I understand). What do you do with the IR input, do you trigger macros?
E, I thought the same thing until I tried this. The problem with the Ocelot is it "misses" the IR commands. It really does not take long to process them, however it is not fast enough to use as a repeater itself.

I use the Ocelot to trigger "macros" and overcome non-discrete commands.

For example, my TV does not have discrete power commands, so I use a current monitor connected to my SECU16 to see if the set is on or off. Then I have some CMAX program that looks like this (not exactly in CMAX language, though):

IF Receive IR TVON
AND TV Current Sensor is OFF
THEN Send IR TV Power
IF Receive IR TVOFF
AND TV Current Sensor is ON
THEN Send IR TV Power

I can set similair things up to power-up components and switch TV/Receiver inputs too. It's nice to have these "macros" stored on the Ocelot rather than in my Universal remote (and MX700, which is highly macro capable) becuase you can "fire and forget" rather than have to aim the remote the whole time, or wait to change devices on the remote for the macro to finish (although the aiming thing's not that big of an issue with my new setup). And the abillity to add logic via CMAX rather than a remote control blindly firing off commands makes a big diferenec too.

The bottom line is that you should only use the Ocelot to trigger other commands, not as a distribution hub, or direct control of an HTPC - unless it's a command you can tolerate a short delay in.

For example. I have two ways of getting IR into my PC: The Ocelot and a StreamZap PC Remote. I use the streamzap for direct interaction with my PC (via girder) - for example, navigating on DVDLobby or controlling playback in zoomplayer. However, the streamzap remote doesn't have enough buttons to meet all my needs,so I have to make some compromises. I looked at what thing I'd want to be really quick, like playback controls and the 4-way arrows in DVDLobby's TV interface, so those all get streamzap IR control. Some other things that I use less often, like the sort, help, and search functions in DVDLobby, and the directional arrows in ZoomPlayer are controlled from the Ocelot. I have events triggered by specific IR reception in HomeSeer that lauch MLServeCmds via the MLHSplugin, which in turn send commands to Girder, which outputs the proper command to the application - It works better than you'd think, with - maybe 1/3 of a second of delay, which isn't a big deal for those uses. If I installed the HSGirder plugin, I could take a step out, but I don't need another plugin and the extra step doesn't add any time.
 

electron

Administrator
Staff member
I realize it misses a command since it processes only 1 IR signal per second (or something like that), but I thought it was rather annoying. I was hoping to track the channel the TV is on, etc. , but that's where I had to give up. Now that I have my Ocelot connected to the M1, my entire IR solution is hardware based instead having to rely on a PC. I am going to have to play with that current sensor, my cable box doesn't support a discrete ON/OFF either, that's a great work around.
 

Guy Lavoie

Active Member
jrfuda, there is no loop risk with having the Ocelot able to receive the same IR command that it can send, because the PIC can not receive and send IR simultaneously. The IR receiver is effectively "blind" during the time that it is busy sending IR. The loop thing could occur if you were sending IR using a SECU16IR but even then, you could always trigger a timer for a few seconds and make the reception of that same IR command only valid if the timer is also not running.

I do the power toggle macro the same way as you are, by ANDing the code with a current sensor monitor. Works great.

The recognition of received IR by the Ocelot can be made more accurate by learning an IR code for a full 1 second keypress. This will fill out the sampling window and make the code easier to match against a code that is also received over a full second.
 

jrfuda

Active Member
Guy Lavoie said:
jrfuda, there is no loop risk with having the Ocelot able to receive the same IR command that it can send, because the PIC can not receive and send IR simultaneously. The IR receiver is effectively "blind" during the time that it is busy sending IR.
Thanks Guy, that's good to know!
 

Mike

Senior Member
The Xantech stuff has been great. I've been using the 4-zone block (only have 2 zones active to date though) and it has worked very well.

I have not gotten to the point of an Ocelot or Global Cache tie in, but it sounds like your implmentation has been a real success.

If you have issues with the mids, adding another sensor and going to a zone based xantech block might help (it worked great for me, I usually try to avoid wireless in general if at all possible).
 

electron

Administrator
Staff member
I have the Radioshack version of those powermids (the one that came with the 15-2117 remote), and I had the same noise issue. I ended up yanking it out of the loop, and just hardwire everything.
 

jrfuda

Active Member
Mike said:
If you have issues with the mids, adding another sensor and going to a zone based xantech block might help (it worked great for me, I usually try to avoid wireless in general if at all possible).
Even though I have two "zones" there's no overlapping equipment, so I don't need the zones to be infependant. I can run as many sensors as I was in parrallel into the Xantech block, so I can just add these to each end of the system and add another hidden link receiver in the bedroom, and I'll have a wired system.

The injector/couplers are about $6 each, plus a $10 power supply and $53 receiver on the injector end, for a total of (6+6+10+52) $74 to hard-wire a second room. Considering I pid $35 for the powermids, I may have been better off with this solution for an Extra ~$40 to begin with.

If for some reason I have any connections along the way that block DC, I'll need these ($12) to "bridge" the IR signal accross the blockage too.

I'll see how bad the interference is with the powermids before I go buying more stuff, though.

Having all your stuff in one spot gets expensive. If I didn't have movies and music centralized like I do (in changers and/or HTPC) It would not be worth it. I could have bought a cheapo DVD player several times over for what I've spent to distribute A/V.

It sure is going to stink when I have to move again :)
 

smee

Senior Member
I've also had problems with PowerMids and interference so I don't use them anymore. The RF receiver/IR transmitter would blast the room with IR - rendering all remotes powerless.

I use a wired Xantech system running over cat5 cable. I'm wired for 3 zones, but I'm really only using 1 right now.

All my A/V comes from a single location - I use cat5 to distribute audio and coax to distribute composite video (ok, not too fancy) to other locations.
 

jrfuda

Active Member
smee said:
All my A/V comes from a single location - I use cat5 to distribute audio and coax to distribute composite video (ok, not too fancy) to other locations.
That's fancier than what I have (will have). I'm going to be modulating composite and stereo audio into a TV channel in mono - about as non-fancy as you can get unless I gifure out a way to remove the color too :D

We don't do much serious watching/listening in the bedroom anyway. Most of the time the wife and/or I are ready for bed with 10-20 minutes left on a DVD and we want to watch it in bed instead of in the living room, so a modulated mono signal is more than adequate.

So, it's sounding like it's going to be a no go to use the powermids, but I'll try 'em out for a few days and see what happens, though I'm pretty sure of the results based on my preliminary observations this morning.
 

smee

Senior Member
I would go ahead and try the Powermids. I know someone who uses them without any problems.

I was using modulators (composite in, mono sound) before. I've removed them from my system now but they worked fine.

Since I'm also distributing music, I wanted stereo - but I didn't want to buy stereo modulators and I didn't want to use a stereo TV or VCR in every listening location (all 3 - it's not a big system).

But, my wiring is a nightmare - in terms of number of cables. They are all run along the bottom of the wall - exposed to everything. I live alone and they don't bother me but I can imagine them rating very low on WAF. I think the cable run from the living room (the central location) to the bedroom is something like: 2 composite video coaxes, 1 cat5 carrying two sets of stereo audio, a couple network cables, a combined RS-485/1-wire cat5, some twisted pair for automation TTS speakers, cat5 for IR distribution, and probably something else I'm forgetting. At least I no longer need the cable coax since I don't run the modulators any more. I have a VCR in the living room that is used to tune for the bedroom (or any other room like the kitchen which is fed from my central distribution system).
 

damage

Senior Member
at one point, i had powermids for IR too and the noise they picked up made them useless for me. i went hardwired as well, with xantech. i have basically one giant zone controlling components in the family room, living room, master bedroom, office and garage with ir receivers in all those locations + the guest room. my jds ir xpander is tied into this for web based and controller based IR control. i also use my slimp3s as IR receivers (using the slimserver xpl plugin), which i've found have better IR recognition than my IR xpander, to initiate macros, etc.
 

jrfuda

Active Member
OK, now for the next step.

I've received all of my channel modulating equipment and may set it up this Wednesday morning (again, instead of exercising :D ).

Here's a shot of how I plan on setting it up:
ModulatorSetup.jpg

The top right shows all the TV stations in my area. The reds are very strong and can be received with little or no antenna, the ambers are a little weaker, and the yellows weaker still. The whites are very weak and probably unreceivable without a giant amplified rooftop antenna, and the un-named channels (white and green) are places I can safely modulate my stuff onto without fear of interferance (I think). The green ones are the channels I feel will be safe to use - with at least a channel gap between them and anything I think will cause inteference. I currently use 19 and 21 with my dual-tuner Dish receivers (built-in modulators) without any problems.

Currently, my system is setup like above, without the 3-channel modulator and its connected equipment. Also, the bridge gapped by the area designated by the lightening bol currently does not exist. Currently the living room and master bedroom run off of one dish receiver and the guest room and JC's room off of another. I'm assuming it's safe to connect these two so that programming in any part of the house can be seen in any other part, but my main intent is to have 2-way traffic between splitter 3b and splitter 4.

1. Do you all think introducing this many splits and connections will cause a lot of frequency loss? I could add an amplifier between splitters 1 & 2.

2. I may end-up adding hardwired IR couplers and injectors to the system. There would be an injector between 3a & 2, JC's TV & 3b, and Guest TV and 3b. There would also be a coupler betweeen 1 & 2 (or between 2 and the amp, if one is added). I would also have to upgrade splitters 2 & 3b if they do not pass DC current.

So what do y'all think?
 
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