Ocelot IR to Pyramids (actually it's a CPU-XA)

Joe W

Despite the best intentions, my CPU-XA (for newbees it's an old version of the Ocelot) has been dedicated only to X10 for the last 4 years. I want to now use the IR capabilities to control some of my TVs and Stereos (are they still called stereos?) through CMAX or Homeseer. A wireless solution is essential since I am not willing to pull anymore cable. I figured I'd use pyramids - I have two pair of them already and will get more as I need them. Anyhow - I used the search on homeseer but it returned way too many messages so I figured I'd ask the experts - for all of you who do this already, here is what I want to know...

1. Do I need a Pyramid transmitter and receiver connected to the CPU-XA via some IR cabled emitters/receivers?
2. Will I also need a pair at each viewing location, one receiver at the device to point the remote control at (so the CPU-XA gets the signal), the other transmitter in front of the devices to blast the IR commands from the CPU-XA?
3. If #1 is true, CPU-XA to Pyramid receiver requires a IR cable to connect them, what exactly do I use?
4. If #1 is true, Pyramid treanmitter to CPU-XA - same question as above. What kind of cable/emitter do I use.
5. Where is the best place to get the IR codes for various devices, D-Tivo, TV, Receivers...

I will have some time this weekend to mess with this stuff since lots of rain is expected here in NJ. Hopefully I can get the CPU-XA IR working through the Pyramids and then I can later phase in getting all the devices set up at each location.

If I am way off-base here, someone please set me straight.
The fact that you want 2-way communication is going to complicate things.

Let's consider a 1-way solution, first. In this case, your CPU-XA will transmit IR instructions to your remote equipment (your old-fashioned stereo, for example).

One way to do this is to attach an IR emitter to your CPU-XA that either points toward or attaches to a Powermid transmitter (or equivalent). The emitter can be either a blaster pointed at the transmitter or a stick-emitter attached in front of the IR reciever on the transmitter.

At another location, you will have a Powermid receiver (or equivalent). This should be in the same room as your TV or stereo. This will receive the RF transmission from the previously mentioned transmitter and will emit it at this remote location. The receivers have IR blasters which will flood the room with IR and sometimes also have a jack into which you can plug another blaster or stick-on emitter. You can have more than one receiver located around the house, as long as they are all in range of the transmitter. They will all receive the same signal.

The 2-way solution that you are asking for is more complicated. As far as I know, all of the Powermid transmitters/receivers work on the same RF frequency. If you put a transmitter in the TV room and a receiver in the computer room, the signals between these will interfere with the signals between the ones working in the other direction. You may need to find different brands that use different RF frequencies to prevent this.

In addition, you may run into problems with signals being sent back and forth, long after they should have stopped, if the receivers and transmitters are within IR "eyeshot" of each other. For example, the CPU-XA emits an IR signal that goes to an RF transmitter. This signal is broadcast to another room and emitted as IR by the receiver there. If this is picked up by the transmitter in that room (for signals back to the computer room), it will be broadcast back to the computer room. If you are using the same brand for both directions, it will also be re-emitted in the stereo room. Once it's back in the computer room, if that transmitter sees it then the whole loop will start over again. It's possible that the equipment is smart enough to avoid this but I'd be kind of surprised. On the other hand, I doubt this would actually set up an infinite loop.

If you can go with a different brand for the return signal and you avoid letting IR receivers see emitters that they shouldn't, then you are probably ok. The RF receiver/IR emitter in the computer room just needs to emit (stick-on emitter) or blast to the CPU-XA - just like the receiver in the stereo room.

Now, having rambling on for a while, here's what I would do:

1) I recently switched to wired IR. I was having problems with interference with my Powermids. However, if they work for you they are much easier than doing the wiring. So, I'd check the wireless solution first. By the way, my IR is 1-way only - from an emitter on the computer to my equipment (wired as mutliple zones but being used as a single zone now).

For your situation, I would use the wireless for the signal from the computer to the equipment.

2) Consider using something else for the return signal to the computer. Instead of IR, I'd think about using an RF remote control (ATI Remote Wonder, for example) and the appropriate software on the computer. I think Girder will handle these. Note that I have no experience doing this.

If that's not an option, consider running out to Radio Shack and seeing if you can still find one of their 15-2117 remote controls. These are on clearance and have apparently pretty much disappeared from the shelves. These are RF remote controls that communicate with a small IR emitting box. The box receives the RF signal and converts it to IR. You could easily put this box in the computer room, viewable only by the CPU-XA receiver. This may be the best way to handle the return signal.

3) You can always go to wired systems, but you may still need to worry about loops.

OK, after all that, I think I've "sort of" addressed some of your questions. I'll leave the ones about specific emitters, etc., and codes up to somebody else (since I don't know the specifics). Hopefully, there's at least some useful information above.
Thanks smee. As I was writing the message I was thinking about all the two-way problems that I was going to encounter but kept on writing mostly to get the feedback. There has to be a solve for this.

Maybe I need to start as a one-way option then try different solutions for the two way? IAC, I still need to know what emitters to use for the CPU-XA to pyramid transmitter.

Maybe I'll have time to join the chat tonight and get some additional advice. Ooh, I just remembered that they are announcing the winners of the Christmas in July contest so I think I'll be chatting tonight.
Joe W,
Just about any emitter will work. I like the mouse emitters because they flash when a signal is sent and this allows you to be able to troubleshoot much easier. Here's the emitter I used.


I connected it to my Ocelot and then attached this emitter to the Powermid. It has worked flawlessly from day one. One word of caution though. You must get the emitter over the ir receiver inside the powermid. If you hold it up to the light you can see the receiver inside. The nice thing about these powermids are their blast power. I have on on the back of a coffee table and it controls a stereo that is facing away from the powermid.

As far as 2 way communication. You can always learn a key that isn't used on your equipment from a multi function remote and use this to "go back" to the ocelot to process and then allow HS to run events and such.
[theAberdeenKid] Maybe we'll hook-up some day. It's quite possible we've passed each other in one of the hundreds of strip malls on Rte 34/35/36 and didn't know it. Do you live near Strathmore Bowling?

OK, so I think I'll start with one-way only for now. Seems very simple. Now for the $1mm question, how do I get the IR device codes into the CPU-XA, should I learn them in or upload them from some database. Uploading sounds less tedious but I wouldn't know where to start.

I would start by learning them, just to get a feel for how it works and test out your control scenarios. Then, you could always look up descrete codes on remotecentral.com and try adding them to your learned codes for testing. This is easier then trying to obtain a whole list of codes without any assurance that they will work with your devices, adding another unknown element to your first tests.
I am assuming that I need to point the remote at the IR In window on the unit. The CPU-XA is mounted on the wall. Should I unmount it to get a better line of sight to the IR window or is there some trick to make this easier?
If you can get an aim at the IR receiver, even if its at an angle, you should be ok. The real test is to try it. Just start up the "Learn IR code" utility in C-Max with the red window and fire away. If the red window disappears, then its receiving ok. The other way would be to obtain the IR receiver dongle that ADI makes for this purpose and plugs into the IR receiver jack. Its only about $12.
Guy Lavoie said:
The other way would be to obtain the IR receiver dongle that ADI makes for this purpose and plugs into the IR receiver jack. Its only about $12.
The ADI dongle is hard to mount and is VERY susceptible to sunlight.
A better choice would be a Xantech Hidden Link, which has better filtering is in a small case that can be placed anywhere, and has an LED for visual feedback that the IR signal was received.

The Hidden Link 291 Kit includes everything you need to route IR signals into spaces that IR remote controls cannot penetrate such as inside cabinets or behind doors. These kits are a "best buy" when IR distribution is required.


(1) 291-10 Hidden Link Receiver
(1) 789-44 Connecting Block
(1) Power Supply
(4) 283M Mouse Emitters

Just stick one of the Mouse Emitters on the Ocelot's IR window.
It is more expensive, but you only get what you pay for.

Maybe we'll hook-up some day. It's quite possible we've passed each other in one of the hundreds of strip malls on Rte 34/35/36 and didn't know it. Do you live near Strathmore Bowling

We probably have passed each other...I'm the one that mumbles nasty things under my breath.
I'm not sure where Strathmore bowling is, I do live in Strathmore though.
AberdeenKid - Strathmore Bowling is in the big mall on Rte 34 and Lloyde Rd. The Hobby Shop is in that mall also and is a great place to find something to build for the kids during rainy days. They also have a really good RC Car/Plane section.
OK. here's what I accomplished yesturday in hooking up my CPU-XA to a Pyramid. Nothing earth shattering or complicated.

I went to my local electronics store and picked up a mouse emitter - a Xantech 283M Blink-IR Mouse Emitter. I plugged it into the CPU-XA IR-IN port. I didn't power it down as stated but just plugged it in. I read somewhere on the HS board that you could do that with no ill effects. Well, I have no ill effects so that's confirmed. I loosely placed the emitter on the pyramid so I could adjust it for best performance. One or two tries and I found the best location for it and stuck it on.

For the learning, I had to unscrew it from the wall and laid it over the monitor of the PC that runs HS. This gave me a real comfortable place to sit while I aimed the remotes at the IR port on the unit.

First I used CMAX to learn the codes. The key here is to write down all the codes and locations that they will be stored in. You can't label them as you are entering them. After completing all the devices, I went into the System Map in CMAX and created the labels for them. I tested a few of the codes on my equipment and all is well.

Out of curiosity, I also recreated the same thing using Homeseer IR. I liked the Homeser IR because I could create the device names and keys that I wanted it to learn before actually performing the learning. It was easer to keep track of where I was. It is very tedious in either method but HS was definetly quicker.

As a quick test I created a CMAX event to pause the DTivo in the living room when the doorbell rang. Worked great. I created the same event in HS and had similar success although HS was a wee bit slower to execute.

Thanks to all of you who helped me get this going.