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post #1 of 29 Old 07-10-2012, 10:40 AM - Thread Starter
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Can I use a standard universal remote, like the one from my cable box or receiver, for an HTPC? If so, do HTPC cases commonly have IR sensors for this or do I need a USB IR sensor? Can I power the HTPC on and off with the remote?
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post #2 of 29 Old 07-10-2012, 11:24 AM
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Sure. Might be a lot of work and require special software, but it can be done. I do it, and it works fine.

AFAIK, cases don't typically include the proper IR sensor, so you usually need a USB IR sensor. Alternately you can use IP control from an iOS or Droid via something like Remote Potato. Some cable tuners have an integrated IR sensor and come with a remote, like the WinTV DCR2650.

Typically you'll just use the remote for sleep/wake. On/off is tough because when the PC is off, so is the USB IR sensor. You'll need to confirm your PC will wake upon USB activity. This may be a setting in your BIOS.

I recommend getting something like THIS and a learning or other universal remote besides your cable remote. If you want to use your cable remote, you'll need a JP1 cable and software because many HTPC remotes use unusual protocols that often aren't found in cable remotes. Those that use the MCE protocol should work without learning, but my require a few extra codes to get all the commands you typically need.


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post #3 of 29 Old 07-10-2012, 11:41 AM
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IMO, the best option is just to get a usb receiver (the HP media center receivers on ebay apparently work very well) and then a logitech harmony remote. When you look up your device in the Logitech Harmony software, use Microsoft Media Center SE. Hopefully you motherboard supports wake over usb.
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post #4 of 29 Old 07-10-2012, 11:58 AM
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I just found the IR receiver I use: http://www.amazon.com/Azend-MediaGate-HA-IR01SV-Windows-Ultimate/dp/B00123UGWQ/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1341946490&sr=8-8&keywords=media+center+remote. I can tell you from personal experience that that receiver works very well with the logitech harmony. This one, however, did not.
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post #5 of 29 Old 07-10-2012, 12:20 PM
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I've had great luck using a Harmony 300i (refurbished for $16) along with the Rosewill MCE Remote control kit (for the IR receiver). YES, I also bought the HP IR receiver from an eBay-er and it also works fine. Getting the remote to send the sleep/wake function to the IR receiver is simple... how your PC utilizes it is based on your BIOS, driver(s), and settings... but it's all doable.
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post #6 of 29 Old 07-10-2012, 01:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sarevok1 View Post

Can I use a standard universal remote, like the one from my cable box or receiver, for an HTPC? If so, do HTPC cases commonly have IR sensors for this or do I need a USB IR sensor? Can I power the HTPC on and off with the remote?

Lots of posts here on why you shouldn't turn the power off, but use sleep mode instead
http://www.avsforum.com/t/154666/ever-turn-the-power-off/0_50
http://www.avsforum.com/t/1354791/remote-doesnt-power-on-new-htpc-help/0_50
http://www.avsforum.com/t/1361715/new-htpc-build-help-with-ir-receiver-cold-power-on/0_50

Everybody seems to love Logitech, and I've used their DiNovo keyboard long enough to know they make outstanding products.

That being said, for my usage the hands down winner in this category is flirc

You can use this dongle to map any keyboard shortcut to any button on any ir remote. I personally favor it with the blu-link for a cheaper version of the harmony. The blu-link or any other "learning" remote can simply learn the power and volume commands from your pre-programmed came-in-the-box device remotes. HDMI-CEC will typically allow you to control an A/V receiver's power and volume through the TV, which is helpful when you need to point the remote at the TV rather than an obscure receiver cabinet. Logitechs appear to have some trouble with HDMI-CEC, but that's only from what I read on these forums since I've never owned one.

The Flirc dongle will let you map all the commands you would like to your existing Cable remote if that's what your after. It's $25, and most of the time you already have a usable remote
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post #7 of 29 Old 07-10-2012, 03:17 PM
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Why are some USB IR receivers recommended over others? From reading several comments in other threads I'm left with the impression that some IR receivers just don't work with an MCE remote. Is that true or am I misinterpreting the comments?
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post #8 of 29 Old 07-10-2012, 03:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike99 View Post

Why are some USB IR receivers recommended over others? From reading several comments in other threads I'm left with the impression that some IR receivers just don't work with an MCE remote. Is that true or am I misinterpreting the comments?

I might be wrong, but I always thought most people recommend the cheapest LIRC compatible usb receiver for maximum customization
http://www.lirc.org/
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post #9 of 29 Old 07-10-2012, 03:47 PM
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I've seen Windows 7 MCE remotes with IR receivers on ebay for $7.50 and on Amazon for $15.00. It was puzzling me why some suggestions were for IR receivers that cost at least these amounts when you can buy both the remote & receiver for that price. IOW maybe there was something special about some IR receivers.
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post #10 of 29 Old 07-10-2012, 04:39 PM - Thread Starter
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I'd prefer to use my cable box remote since it has some functions specific to my cable box and and I'd prefer to only have one remote. I'm only going to use my HTPC for streaming movies from my desktop and netflix, so I don't see why I'd need more from the remote than 4 way directional buttons, play/pause and an on/off button to put it to sleep. If I get a USB IR receiver, should this work fine?
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post #11 of 29 Old 07-10-2012, 07:13 PM
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As I said before, the risk is that the codes for the receiver aren't in your cable remote. And since most cable remotes can't learn, there may be no way to add them. If your cable remote happens to be a JP1 remote, then of course you can use a JP1 cable and software to add the codes (which is what I do).

Just about any universal remote can duplicate the functions of your current cable remote as well as control your PC and other devices.

The idea behind getting a WMC remote that comes with a dongle is that you can learn the codes if necessary, minimizing your risk of buying something that may not work with your remote. After learning the commands, there's no need to ever use the WMC remote again unless you want to. Getting something like a harmony and just a dongle is the easiest and lowest risk solution. The harmony will replace all remotes, including your cable remote.

If you're interested in pursuing the JP1 solution, post the exact model of your cable remote and I'll try to tell you how to proceed. I can also tell you what MCE codes may be built in to your remote.


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post #12 of 29 Old 07-10-2012, 08:08 PM - Thread Starter
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It's a Rogers cable remote that came with my Cisco HD cable box which I just purchased. The remote is made by Universal electronics and the model is 1056B03 Atlas. The URL www.urcsupport.com is printed on the back for help finding codes.

It has a favorites button that goes directly to my favorites tv guide, which only has the channels I get and that I care about. It has A, B, C, and D buttons which are used to navigate through some of the menus. It also has day +/- and page +/- buttons to help navigate the TV Guide. Lastly there's an On Demand button which goes directly to the On Demand menu.

If a Logitech Harmony can do all these things I'd consider it, but I don't see the benefit if I can by a cheap IR receiver and use my Rogers remote.
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post #13 of 29 Old 07-10-2012, 08:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mdavej View Post

Just about any universal remote can duplicate the functions of your current cable remote as well as control your PC and other devices.

I thought this as well until finding that the default Comcast remotes use custom ir that isn't found in standard universal remote codes. This is why I recommend Flirc in the first place. Also, most AVRs nowadays will let you do the two important things (Power/Volume) with TV controls.
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post #14 of 29 Old 07-10-2012, 09:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sarevok1 View Post

It's a Rogers cable remote that came with my Cisco HD cable box which I just purchased. The remote is made by Universal electronics and the model is 1056B03 Atlas. The URL www.urcsupport.com is printed on the back for help finding codes.
It has a favorites button that goes directly to my favorites tv guide, which only has the channels I get and that I care about. It has A, B, C, and D buttons which are used to navigate through some of the menus. It also has day +/- and page +/- buttons to help navigate the TV Guide. Lastly there's an On Demand button which goes directly to the On Demand menu.
If a Logitech Harmony can do all these things I'd consider it, but I don't see the benefit if I can by a cheap IR receiver and use my Rogers remote.
These are the most likely candidates for the HP dongle (assuming it uses the MCE protocol). If anyone can post any pronto hex command that works on the HP, I can tell you exactly. Unfortunately the B03 is a newer JP2 model that has very limited programming capabilities compared to older models. So you'll most likely need a JP1.x cable and software to get it working 100%. I can't predict exactly what built-in functions will work without seeing the pronto hex. Check the links in my signature for an explanation of JP1.

AUD 1785
TV 1264
TV 1494
TV 1502
TV 1525
DVD 1708
DVD 1972

Most of the functions you listed are a problem on a universal remote. However, the On Demand is probably a macro that goes to a specific channel. Again, not a problem on most universals. But harmony has trouble with simple macros like that. If you go that route, you'll probably have to treat On Demand as a Favorite channel macro.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dark_Slayer View Post

I thought this as well until finding that the default Comcast remotes use custom ir that isn't found in standard universal remote codes. This is why I recommend Flirc in the first place. Also, most AVRs nowadays will let you do the two important things (Power/Volume) with TV controls.
The only un-learnable protocol I've come across related to cable boxes is the XMP protocol used by a few newer motorola boxes. Most use the G.I. Cable protocol which is easy to learn. Both protocols are built in to Comcast remotes, so with a little help, you probably could have gotten it to do just about anything you wanted.


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post #15 of 29 Old 07-11-2012, 12:07 AM
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If you aim your IR remote at your digital camera's lens you can see the flashing IR beam in the LCD viewfinder. While you may not be able to interpret the flashing code you can at least verify that the remote is putting out a signal. When I tried a Comcast remote I noticed it had two flashing LEDs instead of just one.

On a side note, you can test your electric garage door opener's IR safety electric eye system. IOW if it stopped working & your not sure if it needs an IR transmitter or receiver, you can use your digital camera in similar manner to test the transmitter. And use any (or most any) remote & aim it into the receiver & watch if the receiver's LED indicator flashes, presuming it has an LED. At least you'll know which part to replace, but you'll probably have to buy them in pairs anyway.
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post #16 of 29 Old 07-11-2012, 05:19 AM - Thread Starter
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I'm already using the remote to control the TV and 5.1 receiver, so the only free buttons are DVD and VCR. Can the remote only use DVD and VCR codes for these buttons? If I wanted to buy an IR receiver and just take the chance that my remote doesn't have the code for it, what would be the best one to buy?
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post #17 of 29 Old 07-11-2012, 07:34 AM
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Possibly. Check your manual. On the old versions of the 1056 (B01) you could change any device button to any device type, not sure about the B03. DVD and VCR are both the DVD device type internally. The codes I posted are still just guesses anyway until I can confirm by seeing some pronto hex. If you or anyone else manages to find any, please post it. As a last resort I can capture and analyse codes from a harmony.

Which one is best is an open question. There are literally thousands of models that would work. Since you are in Canada, I'm not sure what's available there. In the US, my favorites include the RCA RCRP05B. It would be the cheapest at $15. It's most similar to your cable remote, is made by the same company and uses the same codes. But it adds more devices and learning. Next, consider the $30 Xsight 12G. Decent Harmony models (one's that can do macros) start at $50 and go up from there. Those include the 600, 650 and 700. The One is around $150 and the 900 around $250. The Harmony 200 and 300 are $20-$40 and will technically work, but have less macro capability than your cable remote. The URC WR7 is another popular cheap learning remote that would work well. I think it's around $20.

You can also get a few MCE remotes that are somewhat universal, but I wouldn't recommend that.


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post #18 of 29 Old 07-11-2012, 08:06 AM - Thread Starter
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I meant which USB IR receiver is best for my cable remote. You can buy just the receivers without a remote, correct?
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post #19 of 29 Old 07-11-2012, 09:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sarevok1 View Post

I meant which USB IR receiver is best for my cable remote. You can buy just the receivers without a remote, correct?
That's what I can't confirm without seeing some pronto hex commands that work with the HP receiver posted here. If you or anyone else can post some, I can tell you.

I can tell you for sure that none of the cheap $7 Chinese receivers like THIS or the VRC-1100 will work without learning. The Rosewill remote that's a popular choice here should work with DVD 1972, but I'm not 100% certain. Can anyone here confirm if the Rosewill remote works with an HP receiver?


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post #20 of 29 Old 07-11-2012, 10:09 AM - Thread Starter
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How can I get the pronto hex commands?

Again what I would strongly prefer is not to buy a remote at all, and just buy a USB IR sensor (preferable with no cable so I can plug it into a front USB port) and use my cable box remote with that. Flirc seems to do exactly what I want, though $25 plus $13 to ship to Canada is a little expensive.
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post #21 of 29 Old 07-11-2012, 10:21 AM
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If you use your cell phone's camera.
Aim at the Remote Control's LED and press one of the buttons on the Remote Control
you can see the IR light up this will confirm a signal is being transmitted.
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post #22 of 29 Old 07-11-2012, 11:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sarevok1 View Post

How can I get the pronto hex commands?
Again what I would strongly prefer is not to buy a remote at all, and just buy a USB IR sensor (preferable with no cable so I can plug it into a front USB port) and use my cable box remote with that. Flirc seems to do exactly what I want, though $25 plus $13 to ship to Canada is a little expensive.
I understand. It just so happens that many dongles come with remotes whether you use them or not and are about the same price as a dongle alone, so I don't see the harm in it. The remote just goes straight into a drawer and is never touched again.

You'll just have to do some searches at remotecentral.com or rely on the kindness of strangers. I don't have an HP dongle, so I can't test one nor do I know the codes. I do know the codes for some of the other models I posted.

Trying to get this to work with your current remote is going to require more research on your part. I'm willing to help, but you'll have to do the research. So again, identify a dongle you're willing to buy, and either find a compatible setup code or find compatible pronto hex. Posting the hex will enable me to determine the setup code, if you can't find it elsewhere. I've posted my best guesses if you want to take a chance and buy the HP dongle and try it. But I can't guarantee it will work. I've posted ones you'll want to avoid, so that narrows it down a bit.
Quote:
Originally Posted by puzzledshrug View Post

If you use your cell phone's camera.
Aim at the Remote Control's LED and press one of the buttons on the Remote Control
you can see the IR light up this will confirm a signal is being transmitted.
True, that verifies something is being transmitted. But you'd need super human powers to decode the signal by looking at it. I use the IR Widget and IR Scope to capture and analyze IR signals. It works beautifully. If anyone has a harmony and a widget or a URC remote, we could solve the OP's problem immediately.


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post #23 of 29 Old 07-12-2012, 02:13 PM
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OK, I did a little digging and it appears from several posts at remotecentral that the HP dongle uses standard the MCE codes in the UEI DVD 1972 setup code. So while I'm not 100% certain without testing it myself, odds are very high that it will work. If you get that dongle, post back, and I can post the advanced codes (EFC's) for every command.


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post #24 of 29 Old 07-12-2012, 02:30 PM - Thread Starter
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By HP dongle, do you mean this?

http://www.amazon.com/HP-REMOTE-CONTROL-RECEIVER-EMITTER/dp/B004PXJGXU

I would much rather have one without a cable like the Roswill ones and plug it into the front USB port.
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post #25 of 29 Old 07-13-2012, 07:24 AM
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Yes. You can get just the dongle on ebay. Roswill might work too, but someone will need to confirm it uses the same codes as the HP. That's the best info I have, so you'll have to wait for confirmation from someone else or take a chance.


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post #26 of 29 Old 07-13-2012, 09:23 AM
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Rosewill uses RC6 drivers. So, it will work

Here it my take on the IR receivers that are built into the case, or are otherwise are near the case. Unless you have your HTPC RIGHT under, NEXT to, or ABOVE the TV, other users in the house will point the remote at the TV and if IR receiver is not there, or it has a narrow angle, nothing will happen. They will keep clicking and getting frustrated.

Our HTPC is in the entertainment center under the TV, but not right under. My solution is to run a USB extention to the TV, and mount the IR receiver to the bottom of the TV with double sided sticky tape. No issues whatsoever.

I am using Ir receiver form Addeco remote, and Harmony 610 remote. Addeco is not using the same RC6 protocol, so programming Harmony took a little bit of effort (learn function of Harmony is very handy)

6 TV's in the house on FiOS and we only pay $4.99/month to connect them all!!! Power to the CableCard and WMC7!!!
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post #27 of 29 Old 07-29-2012, 04:26 PM - Thread Starter
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I ended up getting this air mouse instead of a traditional remote. I don't use any media center software at all and just it as a regular pc. It works quite well and IMO is the ideal HTPC remote since you can browse the web with it as well.

I just have one major problem that I haven't been able to solve. It constantly wakes my HTPC from sleep. Even if I disable the mouse function with the button on the device, my PC wakes back up instantly after putting it to sleep. Is there any way to change what buttons/functions wake Windows from sleep? If I'm unable to fix this I might try the iPazzport air mouse.
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post #28 of 29 Old 07-30-2012, 10:54 AM
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I've tried air mice in the past. Didn't care for them. Something like mobile mouse on an iPod/iPhone works much better and won't wake the pc until you use it.

In any case, make sure your enet card is set to wake only on magic packet and the USB port is set to allow PC to go to sleep. Otherwise there may not be anything more you can do about it.


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post #29 of 29 Old 07-30-2012, 12:12 PM - Thread Starter
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I tried an Android trackpad app for my PS3 and didn't like it, but then I don't like trackpads in general. The air mouse definitely has a learning curve, but after browsing the web for an hour or so I was getting pretty good with it. Unlike a trackpad, I can use it well with just one hand and can easily move the mouse across the entire screen in one motion.

I don't think wake on ethernet is the problem since the problem goes away if I take the batteries out of the remote. The pc does actually go to sleep when I push the power button on the remote, but as soon as it's asleep it instantly wakes back up. The remote actually has a button to disable the mouse, but for some reason this doesn't fix the problem. I'm going to try burying it under a couch pillow. Hopefully the remote itself has an auto shutoff after a period of inactivity because it would be a huge waste of batteries to maintain a constant wireless connection to the PC at all times.
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