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Remote Control Questions
#1
Hello Everyone, I am new here and forgive me if this is a "low level" question.

I have been doing some research and seem to confuse myself more by the second when it comes to remote controls.

Any guidance is appreciated or if you could just point me to a thread/keyword/article to elaborate it would be greatly appreciated.

I am new to CQC and I am currently experimenting with the trial version. I just purchased a 5600 SQFT home and want to retro fit it for automation. (I know retrofitting is a pain so I want to make sure I do it right the first time).

I am struggling with the remote control situation....IR Transmitter vs IR Repeater vs RS-232 etc...

Here are my general assumptions and confusions based on my research.

RS-232 is much more reliable & accurate. I have experimented with controlling my current LG Plasma over the RS-232 and it works great, but I have noticed that a lot of the newer TV's do not have RS-232 only Ethernet.

Also, I prefer for all of my commands to be routed to through CQC and then out to the end devices. I would like to be able to use touch screens/ipads etc....but for flipping channels and adjusting volume it seems like a standard handheld remote is by far the best option.

Assume I have a TV on the wall with a serial port and a cable box (tivo) with an ethernet connection in a media closet in the basement. Assume the TV is running off HDMI over Cat6 using an extender etc....

Here are my questions:

1. Can I run a seperate Cat5/6 with a RJ45->DB9 adapter to connect to my TV's my serial port? If so on the end that connects in the media closet does it go into my standard network switch? Or do I need some sort of serial port switch? Assuming my controlling PC only has 1 serial port and I have multiple serial devices is there some sort of switch/splitter to connect mutliples? How do they get networked in or do I have to add multiple serial ports to the PC?

2. Also I read RS-232 can only be ran up to 50'....if my ethernet run is longer than that am I out of luck?

3. Assuming I wanted to use a handheld remote how does CQC receive the IR commands? Do I need an additional Cat5/6 cable in each room for an IR repeater/extender? Does that get networked into a switch or some other piece of hardware?

My ultimate goal is to be able to control multiple devices from a handheld remote (harmony etc....) So the Harmony controls the TV power/input/Blue Ray/Tivo etc..... I want CQC to recognize the input that is currently set for that TV and control the proper device For example if I push pause on the remote CQC will check and see....current source is TIVO send pause command to TIVO, or current source is Blue Ray send pause command to Blue Ray.

I can follow all of the logic in CQC what I am struggling with is the best way to transmit those commands to the CQC box in another room without using a touch screen/ipad etc.....wife would bitch too much if she had to open an app every time she wanted to adjust volume or change channel....

I can't seem to grasp the IR Repeater/Blaster/Serial Connections etc.....how does CQC receive these commands?

Also assuming a new TV does not have a serial port....can the power on command be sent and recognized over ethernet? Example....I push power on the remote, CQC receives the command and transmits the command over ethernet to the TV. Will the TV receive the command and turn on even though the power is off?

Thanks in advance for any direction/advice.

I am also going to post this on the AVS forum.
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#2
If a TV (or other device) supports external control, generally it will have to respond to power on even if it's off or in standby. Sometimes that's all it will respond to (which we refer to as 'dead if off'.) Sometimes you have to set a special mode on it to keep it alive enough to stay on the network when in standby mode.

RF remotes are typically the nicest, since they are non-directional. You don't have to make sure they are pointing just right. And the nicer ones also allow you to just configure whatever commands you want them to send, they are usually just text values. So you can set up the commands however you want to set your need.

There are some 'generic trigger' drivers that are used for this type of thing. They are trained in CQC just like you'd train it to respond to an IR blaster basically, exception it's receiving a text string. Generally CQC talks to a central controller via serial port or IP, and the remotes talk to the controller. When the controller receives a signal, it just passes it on out to CQC.

The trigger drivers can be 'parameterized', which cuts down a lot on the work involved. I.e. if you want to set a channel, you can set up one command in CQC, and train it to respond to something like:

\TVBR\SetChannel

Then you can actually pass it something like:

\TVBR\SetChannel#432

You can define a 'separator character' that will be used to divide the part that should trigger the action, from some data you want to pass it. So instead of having to have a command for each channel, you can just have one that takes the incoming value after the separator, and sends out a command for each digit in the value.

This makes it a lot easier to do, and since you can control the format of the data sent with the nicer RF remotes, you can send whatever you want for a given button. So it's pretty easy to do the above.
Dean Roddey
Explorans limites defectum
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#3
Thank you for the super fast response. I am actually watching the IR Trigger video now and googling the hardware to understand it better.

So in reality I need 1 additional cat5/6 run at each TV location to send the the IR/RF signal back to the hardware in the media closet & another cat5/6 run to connect to & control the TV.

Are there any issues with lengths of runs on these? Is there something better to use other than cat5/6 cable?

Has anyone ran serial cable over 50'?

Also, for the USB UIRT......assume I have 2 rooms and have the same remote in both of them....lets assume I decided to use the default tivo remote and configure the UIRT to send the signal to CQC. Will CQC be able to differentiate which room the command came from? If the 2 remotes are identical then they should send the same signal correct? Could I get around this by using a universal remote and configuring 1 brand of TV for room A and another brand of TV for room B so that the transmitted signals to the UIRT would be different?

I know these are not technically CQC questions, and I will research them on my own but if anyone has any advice feel free.

Thanks
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#4
If you use an RF remote, you only need a controller back in the closet with CQC and one connection, since the remotes are RF. If you want to use IR, then you would need some way to get it back, and some way to get it into CQC, and a receiver in each room.

In order to differentiate rooms, with an IR based system you'd have to train separate commands for each thing you want to do, and for each room, so it gets kind of large, if there are many commands. IR based systems can't do any type of parameter scheme like above. They just send out IR data, so you have to have a unique IR command for everything.

Well, if you had separate receivers, and a separate driver in CQC for each one, then effectively which driver received the command could implicitly indicate the room. But still, you'd have to train the same commands redundantly for each room, into each driver instance.

With an RF based system that just sends text strings, you can use the 'parameterization' feature discussed above to reduce that a lot. You could probably have one trained command for each room, which takes one or more parameters and does something appropriate with that info, assuming you just want to do a few things per room. If you wanted to do a number of things per room, you might want to do a couple commands per room, with some parameters.

And, since the RF based systems talk to a controller, which talks to CQC, it's just one driver and one connection. So there's a lot to be said for that scheme, though it'll cost more.
Dean Roddey
Explorans limites defectum
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#5
Can anyone recommend an RF remote with good range? I am worried that my house is too large for RF to work in the far rooms. I don't need any fancy features, just volume, channels, guide, and input changes.....any fancy commands can be sent over iPad etc.....but basic tv controls are all I really need for each room. This would save a cat 5/6 run for IR.

Also if I want to control a tv via serial is 50' truly the longest reliable run or are there other alternatives to network the tv in assuming it does not have an Ethernet port.
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#6
jbh5000 Wrote:Can anyone recommend an RF remote with good range? I am worried that my house is too large for RF to work in the far rooms. I don't need any fancy features, just volume, channels, guide, and input changes.....any fancy commands can be sent over iPad etc.....but basic tv controls are all I really need for each room. This would save a cat 5/6 run for IR.

Also if I want to control a tv via serial is 50' truly the longest reliable run or are there other alternatives to network the tv in assuming it does not have an Ethernet port.

I use URC MX-980s with an MRF-350 base station. The 980 can be programmed to use RF or IR on a device by device basis. In my case, I have a TV that gets its video/audio from a switcher a central location but only has IR control. For that room, the remote is programmed to change channels and source via RF to the base station which generates commands to CQC or a central device. Power and volume control go directly to the TV via IR. My longest remote to base station distance is probably 70 feet between two floors.

RS232 can go longer than 50ft especially at lower baud rates. I run RS232 directly over cat 5 cable 70 feet. If you need longer runs / higher baud rates, I know Monoprice makes a RS232 to Cat5 adapter set for $50 that can go very long distances.
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#7
If your worried about lengths of CAT5 runs there is always the option of placing a small pc at the tv or nearby and run cqc server with serial ports on that machine.
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#8
potts.mike Wrote:If your worried about lengths of CAT5 runs there is always the option of placing a small pc at the tv or nearby and run cqc server with serial ports on that machine.

That makes sense....so I could also do that with an additional RF receiver for that side of the house correct? Then it shouldn't be an issue with the RF receiver being too far away to receive the signals correct?
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#9
jbh5000 Wrote:That makes sense....so I could also do that with an additional RF receiver for that side of the house correct? Then it shouldn't be an issue with the RF receiver being too far away to receive the signals correct?

I know with the URC products, you can have up to 15 different base stations.
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#10
If you have more bucks to spend, the RTI RP6 is another option. You'll have to find a dealer to sell it to you, since it's dealers ony. But generally you can do that. It's more of a pro level solution and like most such things, though the differential in quality is smaller than the differential in price, it often makes the difference.
Dean Roddey
Explorans limites defectum
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