Media HTPC IR and RF keyboards - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 107 Old 01-13-2009, 09:37 PM - Thread Starter
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Looking at setting up a MythTV box with an old computer just to try it out. Not planning on PVR right now. It would just be for DVD playing and Music. I am looking for a decent reasonably priced IR keyboard so I can use it to teach my learning remote (sony RM-VL600) to control the MythTV.

So far I can only find these

http://www.fentek-ind.com/wireless.htm
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16823166049

neither of which I am greatly impressed by. I figured I would just be able to pick up a simple IR keyboard for $30 or so but that doesn't seem to be the case.

Any suggestions?
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post #2 of 107 Old 01-14-2009, 02:45 AM
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You can use any remote with mythtv. All you need is an ir reciever. There's no need to buy an IR KB. Do they still make them I wonder.

If your PC has a serial port, this one works good for me. And you can't beat the price.:-)

http://tekgems.com/Products/tg-pbr.htm
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post #3 of 107 Old 01-14-2009, 10:24 AM
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So... you want a wireless keyboard just to train a learning remote? But not actually use it as a keyboard? Hopefully someone else can help you with that.

But, if you're looking for a keyboard to actually use, I highly recommend the Adesso WKB-3000UB. Right now they're $61 from Amazon.

I have two of them and LOVE them.

Their layout is perfect. The built-in optical trackball sits right under your right thumb, and there's a L-click button on the right-back edge for your trigger-finger. On the left-back edge is a scroll wheel, right where your left index finger lands when holding the keyboard. The keys are not that nice - They're a little cramped, and don't have a nice feel to them. But for mousing around HTPC's, this is a great mini keyboard.
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post #4 of 107 Old 01-14-2009, 10:33 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wnewell View Post

You can use any remote with mythtv. All you need is an ir reciever. There's no need to buy an IR KB. Do they still make them I wonder.

If your PC has a serial port, this one works good for me. And you can't beat the price.:-)

http://tekgems.com/Products/tg-pbr.htm

Thanks for the reply.

I guess I was trying to take what I thought would be the easy way.

looking at http://www.mythtv.org/wiki/index.php/LIRC

it states "It should be noted that many people bypass the need for lirc altogether, and simply use a "learning remote control" and a infrared keyboard receiver. Train the learning remote control to output the appropriate keyboard press for each button/label. Linux and MythTV will not know any better and you have a simple and staightforward infrared controller."

it made sense to me, and keeps me from dealing with LIRC which I am finding a bit intimidating at this point.

My remote does not seem to be supported and I can only find a irman config file here

It seems like you can setup your own config file but I am a bit confused by the guide.

Maybe I will do a bit more research.....
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post #5 of 107 Old 01-14-2009, 12:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by northbear View Post

Thanks for the reply.

I guess I was trying to take what I thought would be the easy way.

looking at http://www.mythtv.org/wiki/index.php/LIRC

it states "It should be noted that many people bypass the need for lirc altogether, and simply use a "learning remote control" and a infrared keyboard receiver. Train the learning remote control to output the appropriate keyboard press for each button/label. Linux and MythTV will not know any better and you have a simple and staightforward infrared controller."

it made sense to me, and keeps me from dealing with LIRC which I am finding a bit intimidating at this point.

My remote does not seem to be supported and I can only find a irman config file here

It seems like you can setup your own config file but I am a bit confused by the guide.

Maybe I will do a bit more research.....

Yes, the IR learning remote and IR keyboard method is a tried and true approach to HTPC control since the late 1990's on avsforums.

The Gold standard for this purpose is the original Airboard IR keyboard and compatibles-


http://www.digitalconnection.com/Pro...ard/sk7100.asp

http://www.cwol.com/keyboards/sk7100.htm

You are quite lucky, as a compatible version of the Airboard is still available-

http://pckeyboards.stores.yahoo.net/sk7500wireless.html

I prefer the SK-7500 over the original SK-7100 Airboard, in physical design and key type.

This is the ONLY remote keyboard I've ever used (along with the SK7100), and don't want to use anything else. I've tried others and always come back.

These are well built for the price and have lasted over 10 years in use in my den and basement theater.

The SK7500 is 100% compatible with the SK7100's codes and IR receiver.

The IR shot out of the SK7500 is learnable by all common learning remotes.

There is NO better IR keyboard out there for media PC use. The Adesso looks like a great RF board, but if you want IR, the SK7500 is the way to go. I have ordered several from pckeyboards.stores without incident.


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post #6 of 107 Old 01-14-2009, 02:05 PM
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You may not find the name of your remote (RM-VL600), but it is certainly supported, as is any ir remote. Yours is a universal remote that emulates many remotes. just pick a device that has lots of active buttons and use it. And if you want you can create your own lircd.conf file using your remote and irrecord (part of the lirc package). The more important thing is that you get an IR receiver that's supported. Then the remote model doesn't really matter. I've used several different models, and I've combined remotes on the same machine so you could use totally different remotes at the same time to control the PC. Being a first time user, I'd suggest you get the 99 cent remote and receiver and use Mythbuntu 8.04. It will work out of the box.
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post #7 of 107 Old 01-14-2009, 03:15 PM - Thread Starter
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Rgb,

Thanks for the great info and recommendation!

wnewell
I did a bit more searching and discovered I would just need to setup a config file for my remote. Best guide I could find is here


Looking here

there are a couple more options for keyboards that I now found. But as I have a glowing recommendation from Rgb I may just stick with that one

From the first link it lists pros and cons of lirc vs IR keyboard as:

----------------------------------------
The advantage to configuring your system with this is that you do not require LIRC and all the configuration that is needed to set it up. You are simply emulating a keyboard with your remote and any button you set will be sent. I have found also that they keyboard responsiveness is much faster than LIRC.

The disadvantage to this is that you lose some of the flexibility that LIRC provides. LIRC can be configured differently for each program (MythTV, mplayer, xine, etc) and the remote-as-keyboard solution cannot, each button only sends one keyboard button. This requires you to use the features of the programs to remap keys sometimes so that they match what you have configured. Alternatively, multiple remote devices (CBL, SAT, etc) could be used to provide alternative keybindings.
----------------------------------------


If I am only using the remote for MythTV there is not much of an disadvantage correct?

After looking it over and seeing a viable IR keyboard for a good price I think I will probably just go that route. Teaching my remote with a keyboard just seems a lot simpler and easier then LIRC


Any other thoughts?
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post #8 of 107 Old 01-14-2009, 03:19 PM - Thread Starter
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One thing I forgot to ask. Looks like the keyboard Rgb recommends is PS/2. For a while I thought the PS/2 port for keyboard and mouse would go away in favor of USB. But looking at newegg seems like all the motherboards still have it the PS/2 ports?

So is PS/2 still here to stay?
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post #9 of 107 Old 01-14-2009, 04:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by northbear View Post

One thing I forgot to ask. Looks like the keyboard Rgb recommends is PS/2. For a while I thought the PS/2 port for keyboard and mouse would go away in favor of USB. But looking at newegg seems like all the motherboards still have it the PS/2 ports?

So is PS/2 still here to stay?

My most recent motherboard purchase (Intel DG45ID) was USB-only, no PS/2 ports. I would not recommend purchasing a new PS/2 keyboard at this late date, unless you know that your mobo will not support USB keyboards.

My cable provider is Netflix
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post #10 of 107 Old 01-14-2009, 05:32 PM
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I've got three of the Airboards and there is no way those puppies are leaving home.
I've got them all mapped with my old prontos that not going anywhere. I can setup all my weird ass systems in minutes with these devices. I am only using one of the Airboards at the moment, due to Popcorn Hours, but they still rule when a quick setup is needed.
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post #11 of 107 Old 01-14-2009, 05:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by northbear View Post

One thing I forgot to ask. Looks like the keyboard Rgb recommends is PS/2. For a while I thought the PS/2 port for keyboard and mouse would go away in favor of USB. But looking at newegg seems like all the motherboards still have it the PS/2 ports?

So is PS/2 still here to stay?

I wouldn't buy a motherboard without PS2 ports. USB doesn't have the dedicated per-port IRQ's and dedicated per port bandwidth of PS2 keyboards and mice, so responsiveness of USB mice and keyboards can suffer. USB ports all share an IRQ and bandwidth. USB keyboards and mice may not work with some low level system utilties that boot into commandline-like environments.

I don't know how much longer I can hold out for PS2, but I've had no issue getting recent vintage mobos with them, including my new ASUS M2N68-AM.

If this is any indication, the mobos I've seen for the fastest, most bleeding edge CPU out there, Intel i7's, have PS2 ports.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16813128375

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16813130215

At worst, just get a low cost PS2->USB adapter like

http://www.ewiz.com/detail.php?p=BK-...29d8d3b6dac7e2

EDIT 090215: Low cost PS2->USB adapters may not work with the SK7100/7500 IR receiver, due to the current draw of the receiver. One PS2->USB adapter that does work with the Airboard SK7100 or 7500 IR receiver is the Pi Engineering Y-Mouse USB
http://www.piengineering.com/ymouse/whym271.php


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post #12 of 107 Old 01-14-2009, 07:37 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelZ View Post

I've got three of the Airboards and there is no way those puppies are leaving home.
I've got them all mapped with my old prontos that not going anywhere. I can setup all my weird ass systems in minutes with these devices. I am only using one of the Airboards at the moment, due to Popcorn Hours, but they still rule when a quick setup is needed.

Looks like you can still get the airboard on e-bay?

Although looking at it I think I like the way some of the other keyboards have the mouse buttons on the other side. I can see that being easier to use then on the same side with one hand (but I have no experience with either )
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post #13 of 107 Old 01-14-2009, 07:46 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rgb View Post

If this is any indication, the mobos I've seen for the fastest, most bleeding edge CPU out there, Intel i7's, have PS2 ports.

I agree. I my breif looking any good motherboards still have the PS/2 ports

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rgb View Post


At worst, just get a low cost PS2->USB adapter like

http://www.ewiz.com/detail.php?p=BK-...29d8d3b6dac7e2

Or even cheaper here

http://www.monoprice.com/products/pr...seq=1&format=2
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post #14 of 107 Old 01-15-2009, 04:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by northbear View Post

Looks like you can still get the airboard on e-bay?

Although looking at it I think I like the way some of the other keyboards have the mouse buttons on the other side. I can see that being easier to use then on the same side with one hand (but I have no experience with either )

Yes, the legendary Airboard (SK7100) can still be had on fleabay, but I still recommend the SK7500.

The SK7500 is in every way an "Airboard" from the IR perspective- same IR codes, compatible receiver (receivers/keyboards are interchangeable), etc, just better keys and the mouse buttons on the left instead of on the right under the mouse pointer like the Airboard, which made the Airboard harder to use for mouse operations. The Airboard SK7100 used low profile keys (almost Chiclet keys) with less-than-full keystroke. The Sk7500 uses full size keys and full keystroke.

The SK7500 is obviously from the same OEM (liteOn?) /lineage as the Airboard (SK7100) based on the part number.

Until someone makes a low cost Airboard IR-compatible clone of a Logitech DiNovo Mini Bluetooth RF board, complete with illuminated keys:

http://www.logitech.com/index.cfm/ke.../3848&cl=US,EN

you'll have to pry my SK7500's from my cold, dead hands- quite hard to do in the current single digit F temps in SE Michigan

BTW, to add illuminated keys to the Airboard/SK7500, just use these glow in the dark key cap stickers-

http://www.glow-key.com/


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post #15 of 107 Old 01-15-2009, 07:08 AM
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It appears there are plenty of original SK7100 Airboards, I assume new-

http://www.bell-enterprise.com/productStore/

Don't know anything about bell-enterprise.com, it came up in a Google Product Search against SK-7100

http://www.google.com/products?q=SK-...earch+Products

This one appears to be a Motorola branded version of the Airboard. The Airboard was rebranded to a lot of OEM's, and packed in with many brands of multimedia kits in the 1990's/early 2000's.


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post #16 of 107 Old 01-15-2009, 07:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by northbear View Post

Looks like you can still get the airboard on e-bay?

That one would be worthless to the you- it is the keyboard only, no IR receiver. Might be good for someone who has a broken Airboard and working IR receiver, though.


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post #17 of 107 Old 01-15-2009, 10:31 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rgb View Post

Yes, the legendary Airboard (SK7100) can still be had on fleabay, but I still recommend the SK7500.

The SK7500 is in every way an "Airboard" from the IR perspective- same IR codes, compatible receiver (receivers/keyboards are interchangeable), etc, just better keys and the mouse buttons on the left instead of on the right under the mouse pointer like the Airboard, which made the Airboard harder to use for mouse operations. The Airboard SK7100 used low profile keys (almost Chiclet keys) with less-than-full keystroke. The Sk7500 uses full size keys and full keystroke.

The SK7500 is obviously from the same OEM (liteOn?) /lineage as the Airboard (SK7100) based on the part number.

Thanks, you answered a question I was going to ask. My question was going to be if it had full sized keys. From the pictures online this is the only one I can find that has the feature.

Wikipedia says the SK-7500 is made by SiliTek which is a division of LiteON

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rgb View Post

you'll have to pry my SK7500's from my cold, dead hands- quite hard to do in the current single digit F temps in SE Michigan

I long for single digits (above zero). Here in Minnesota it was -20F when I drove in this morning. Last time above zero was Monday and the the forecast says we should get above zero sometime Friday afternoon. Currently -12F. Why do I live here again?
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post #18 of 107 Old 01-16-2009, 04:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by northbear View Post

I long for single digits (above zero). Here in Minnesota it was -20F when I drove in this morning. Last time above zero was Monday and the the forecast says we should get above zero sometime Friday afternoon. Currently -12F. Why do I live here again?

...Spring, Summer and Fall

Seriously, this is the *perfect* time for HTPC related hobbies- building your next Myth/HTPC box, debugging, learning software or how to compile, getting that Linux RAID up and running, and managing your media library, whether on hard disks or optical discs. You don't want to waste the other seasons indoors doing these things.

...and the fresh water.

For the rest of the country/world- bash Michigan/Detroit, our automakers, and the Lions (that one's *too* easy ) all you want- YOU CAN'T HAVE OUR WATER! When you're dying for that last drink of fresh water, we *might* give you a sip from an old "rustbelt" cup...

Mitch Albom eloquently summarized the national negative sentiments, and also articulates a positive defense of the city/region/state that pretty much encapsulates the views of most life long SE Michigan residents.

http://smokingsection.uproxx.com/TSS...-of-the-city-2

Remember- SE Michigan (the Region) <> the "City" (Political entity) of Detroit


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post #19 of 107 Old 01-22-2009, 06:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by northbear View Post

I agree. I my breif looking any good motherboards still have the PS/2 ports

Or even cheaper here

http://www.monoprice.com/products/pr...seq=1&format=2

Be aware that most of these low cost PS/2 to USB adapters don't appear to work with the PS/2 mouse connector on the SK7100 IR receiver, which actually is an RS232 DB9 serial connector with a serial->PS/2 adapter. Adding the PS/2 to USB adapter is converting twice, which isn't necessarily the reason why it doesn't work, at tleast with two name brand adapters I tried- Belkin and Radio Shack branded PS/2->USB adapters.

The keyboard PS/2 connector on the SK7100 receiver may work- I'll need to test again to verify. The Belkin adapter appears to work fine with an RF Gyration PS/2 mouse receiver I'm using- I like the Gyromouse + SK7100 combo for some tasks.

The SK7100 IR receiver may want too much current for those USB adapters.

If you need to convert to USB, you might want to try this pro-grade adapter

http://www.piengineering.com/ymouse/whym271.php

I have not tested this specific adapter with the SK7100, so be sure you can return it if it doesn't work for you.

EDIT 090131: I bought the Y-Mouse USB and it works perfectly with the SK7500 IR receiver.

I have used several different Pi Engineering products since 2000 for dual analog VGA output and dual PS/2 keyboard and mouse input adapters- allows 2 keyboards to be used on one PS2 keyboard port a thte same time, similar for the dual Ps2 mouse adapter. These have been very useful running my HTPC's in my basement theater.

Review of PS2->USB adapters
http://www.slcentral.com/usb-mouse/

I duplicate the analog VGA output with zero quality loss to both my 1280x720 projector and a "control" monitor in the equipment rack at the back of the theater. "Clone" mode on video cards is not as flexible.
http://www.piengineering.com/ymouse/whym06.php

The Y-Mouse
http://www.piengineering.com/ymouse/whym02.php

and Y-Key-Key
http://www.piengineering.com/ymouse/whym04.php

are great companions to the SK7100/SK7500. They allow you to use both the IR keyboard and an equipment-rack wired keyboard and wired PS2 mouse at the same time on the same PS2 ports.

But the new USB Y-mouse is probably simpler than the two separate devices above.
http://www.piengineering.com/ymouse/whym271.php


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post #20 of 107 Old 01-23-2009, 07:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by quantumstate View Post

I am really happy with my Logitech Edge. Very high-grade & classy, it lasts a month on a battery charge, and never loses RF communications. Nice and solid.
.

I assume you are referring to

http://www.logitech.com/index.cfm/ke...s/192&cl=US,EN

Looks like a great RF board, though I don't really like touchpads for mice. Still prefer IR


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post #21 of 107 Old 01-25-2009, 02:07 PM
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Since we're speaking of the SK-7500 and serial->DB9 adapters...

I just got a SK-7500 for my Mythbuntu (8.10) install (largely because of this thread). The keyboard works fine with it -- "plug and play" -- but the little mouse-stick doesn't control the cursor at all, nor do the buttons work. Not an issue when I'm using Myth, but otherwise slightly annoying.

Has anyone else had this problem? I'm thinking maybe the adapter is causing the trouble, but my mobo doesn't have a serial mouse port so I can't test.

Thanks,

/GregoryK
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post #22 of 107 Old 01-25-2009, 03:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GregoryK View Post

Since we're speaking of the SK-7500 and serial->DB9 adapters...

I just got a SK-7500 for my Mythbuntu (8.10) install (largely because of this thread). The keyboard works fine with it -- "plug and play" -- but the little mouse-stick doesn't control the cursor at all, nor do the buttons work. Not an issue when I'm using Myth, but otherwise slightly annoying.

Has anyone else had this problem? I'm thinking maybe the adapter is causing the trouble, but my mobo doesn't have a serial mouse port so I can't test.

Thanks,

/GregoryK

I assume you are connecting the SK7500's mouse connector to the PC's PS2 mouse port using the included DB9 serial -> PS2 adapter?

If so, be sure you are connecting to the upper PS2 port on your PC (simple mistake). also be sure the PS2 mouse connector is Enabled in your BIOS, not Auto.
Make sure the DB9 serial->PS2 adapter is fully mated together, too.

The SK7500 IR receiver wants the maximum current- some recent vintage motherboards may not supply enough current. I have never had a problem with my SK7500's on any motherboard I've owned, AFAIK.

Ubuntu won't work with a serial mouse (DB9 connected to COM1/2 on your motherboard) of any kind out of the box- you need to manually enable a serial port mouse

https://help.ubuntu.com/community/SerialMouseHowto

http://ubuntuforums.org/archive/index.php/t-23926.html

If you can't get the SK7500 mouse to work over PS2, you might want to try the serial mouse route on Ubuntu.

You might have a defective keyboard or IR receiver, too.

If your PS2 port works with other PS2 mice, you might need to RMA your SK7500, but you should try the SK7500 on a couple of other PC's of differing makes/models/vintages to be sure. Be sure to use fresh alkaline batteries in the keyboard- rechargeables might be a factor. The SK7500 lasts a long time on good quality fresh alkalines.


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post #23 of 107 Old 01-25-2009, 04:06 PM
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rgb, thanks for the comprehensive assistance.

Quote:


I assume you are connecting the SK7500's mouse connector to the PC's PS2 mouse port using the included DB9 serial -> PS2 adapter?

Correct. And its plugged into the correct mouse port - it works fine with a wired PS/2 mouse.

Quote:


Make sure the DB9 serial->PS2 adapter is fully mated together, too.

Yep, checked that.

Quote:


If you can't get the SK7500 mouse to work over PS2, you might want to try the serial mouse route on Ubuntu.

You might have a defective keyboard or IR receiver, too.

If your PS2 port works with other PS2 mice, you might need to RMA your SK7500, but you should try the SK7500 on a couple of other PC's of differing makes/models/vintages to be sure. Be sure to use fresh alkaline batteries in the keyboard- rechargeables might be a factor. The SK7500 lasts a long time on good quality fresh alkalines.

It does work with other PS2 mice, and I'm just using the fresh (?) batteries that came with the keyboard. The keyboard works fine, and when I toggle the mouse-stick the "data" light on the IR receiver blinks, so it is getting a signal from the SK7500.

Perhaps it is a power issue with the mobo, I'll see if I can find another PC to test with.

thanks again!

/GregoryK
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post #24 of 107 Old 01-25-2009, 08:33 PM
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My "mouse not working" problem is fixed ... turns out a reboot of the box is all that was needed to get the mousestick working.

Thanks for the advice!
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post #25 of 107 Old 01-31-2009, 08:39 AM
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I received a PI Engineering Y-Mouse USB yesterday and tested it this morning with the SK7500 IR receiver.

http://www.piengineering.com/ymouse/whym271.php

It appears to work perfectly!

No need to even power down the machine- just plug in the PS2 keyboard and serial->PS2 mouse cables from the SK7500 IR receiver into the Y-mouse, and plug into a USB port. Mouse and keyboard work perfectly. The keyboard works fine during bootup in the BIOs screen, too- be sure to enable USB keyboard support in your BIOs first.

To reiterate, I tried several cheap PS2->USB converters (Belkin, Radio Shack), and they wouldn't work with the SK7500's mouse on the IR receiver.

Just a heads up-I bought several from surplusgizmos.com, found on a Google Product search-
http://www.surplusgizmos.com/Y-Mouse...er_p_1581.html

Only two left, less than half the price everywhere else on the net. No reflection on the product- just lucky that a surplus site got a hold of a few. They are brand new in the box, a pro-grade product.

If you plan to use the Airboard SK7100 or SK7500 IR receiver and may need USB, this is basically your only choice.


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post #26 of 107 Old 02-14-2009, 06:22 PM
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Programming a JP1 compatible remote (One for All and clones/compatibles) with Airboard (SK7100 and SK7500) keystroke commands-

http://www.mythtv.org/wiki/Programmi...s_as_Keyboards

What is JP1?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JP1_remote

http://www.hifi-remote.com/forums/index.php

Once you learn the Jedi ways of JP1, you can program yourself a Harmony-killer for $30 or much less, brand new


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post #27 of 107 Old 02-15-2009, 06:14 AM
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I may have found the dream mini-form factor IR keyboard/mouse-

http://images.amazon.com/images/G/01...3C-1_large.jpg

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000S6R93C

Could be made to work with lirc...


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post #28 of 107 Old 02-25-2009, 07:51 AM
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So... you want a wireless keyboard just to train a learning remote? But not actually use it as a keyboard? Hopefully someone else can help you with that.

But, if you're looking for a keyboard to actually use, I highly recommend the Adesso WKB-3000UB. Right now they're $61 from Amazon.

I have two of them and LOVE them.

Their layout is perfect. The built-in optical trackball sits right under your right thumb, and there's a L-click button on the right-back edge for your trigger-finger. On the left-back edge is a scroll wheel, right where your left index finger lands when holding the keyboard. The keys are not that nice - They're a little cramped, and don't have a nice feel to them. But for mousing around HTPC's, this is a great mini keyboard.


Does this keyboard work through the walls? My HTPC is in a room about 50 feet away and I would like to use this keyboard on my plasma monitor
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post #29 of 107 Old 02-25-2009, 12:21 PM
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For the record, I think the SK7500 linked above is an excellent keyboard to actually use/type/mouse with.

The ability to teach a learning IR remote it's keystrokes and/or program a JP1 remote with its IR codes is a bonus


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post #30 of 107 Old 02-25-2009, 12:42 PM
 
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I love my Gyration --> http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16823172015

Some buttons on the remote aren't working in linux yet, tho' (pgup/pgdn and jumps)
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