Greetings, all! I have a question on home theater / PC based control, that is slightly different than the "put everything into one box" approach. There's a bunch of stage setting up front in this post, but there are some good questions and a request for interface hardware recommendations at the bottom!Background:
I built a living room system four or five years ago that's working great. It's based on a 52" Sharp Aquos display, a Genelec 6.1 powered speaker system, and sound control built into the room (including the entire front wall of sound absorbtion -- pretty spiffy!)
Because I use *one* display and *one* sound output system, but many sources (including a Mac Mini running Windows Media Center, an Xbox, a PS/3, an Oppo DVD player, a Samsung worldwide VCR, and a TiVo Series 3,) I funnel everything through a Sony STR-DA5200ES HDMI receiver, used only as pre/pro. Plus a no-name HDMI switcher to fit all the inputs, a gigabit Ethernet hub, a UPS, some temperature-controlled venting fans, and a small fortune of cabling... (no, not wasting money on Monster brand -- just the regular, high-quality kind you'd find in any recording studio, but lots of it!)
The family isn't particularly good at memorizing what sound and video inputs go with what device, and the gear is all hidden behind a curtain in the back, so right from the start, I've used an URC 950 programmable RF remote for control. Press "watch -> Xbox" and the right thing happens.
However, the wear and tear of this control system has finally ended up with a broken system. First, the RF receiver/flasher unit failed (probably due to my poor mounting and it being dislodged all the time) and we had to aim the remote at the curtain to "hit" the devices. Now, the remote itself is failing. I replaced the battery once before and it gave it new life, but this time, a fresh replacement battery doesn't work; 99% of the time the remote is just dead.
We have various WiFi connected devices in the house. iPad, Android, iPod touch, Kindle, laptops, etc. These would be ideal to use as remote controls -- in one of two ways:
1) Some combination of IR flashers and other hardware interfaces, protocols, and a set of apps exist that let you describe your system and build activities. Spin it up on the HTPC, and the controller devices connect over networking (WiFi, Ethernet.)
2) A web interface plus some IR flashers and serial ports, and anything with a web browser can control the system.
I've been looking around, and it seems like still, in 2012, we have neither flying cars nor something as simple and obvious as this set of software! DLNA is all about putting video streaming decoders in receivers, and AMX is still all about automating corporate board rooms, and WMC/MythTV/Girder/FrontRow/LinuxHTPC/AppleTV are all about "convergence" rather than "diversity." They solve a problem I don't have, and don't solve the problem I have.
Also: An iPod Touch for $199 is in most ways a better remote control interface than the fancy remote control units for two or three times the money from "remote control" companies. An iPad would be perfect for the high-end living room!Questions:
So, what are my options? I'm not above spinning up a web server in Python/C#/Perl/node.js/whatever
, and writing some software, if I need to. But if there exists software that already does what I need, well, that would be swell and save me a lot of time!
Also, what is a good, modern, robust solution for blinking IR and sending serial data at 8-or-so separate devices?
I can find USB-UIRT, which is kind-of low on outputs (but I can use many,) and CommandIR+Pro, which is kind-of expensive and mainly favors Linux. I already have WMC running, and would love to just spin this system up on that hardware, but if needed, I can buy a Raspberry Pi or ALIX or whatever power efficient hardware to run another system on.
Does nobody else have this problem? Am I just crazy for wanting to go about it this way?