3 TVs, 3 cable boxes, Harmony 900 - AVS Forum

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cuavsfan's Avatar cuavsfan
09:27 AM Liked: 10
post #1 of 16
08-28-2010 | Posts: 9
Joined: Aug 2010
Hi. I'm about to redo my home theater setup and am planning on getting a Harmony 900 to control everything, but before I do I want to be sure it will work for my setup. The main difficulty is that in one location I will have three TVs (two of which are identical) and three cable boxes (at least two identical and maybe all three -- for now I'm assuming they'll all be identical, and if I can get a configuration for that it will obviously work if only two are). I have three possible setups in mind, but I'm not sure of some of the limitations I'll encounter, so I'd love to hear confirmation on which of these will work (or other alternatives). Thanks in advance!


Configuration One




In the Configuration One I need only the Harmony 900 (along with the IR receiver and two mini-blasters it comes with) along with two sets of IR Precision Cables. The big question with this setup is this: Can I set it so that one cable box uses mini-blaster 1 only, one cable box uses mini-blaster 2 only, and one cable box uses the remote's RF only? It looks like I can separate signals between the two mini-blasters, but I want to be sure that 1) the signals meant for boxes 1 and 2 won't hit box 3 and 2) the signals meant for box 3 won't hit boxes 1 and 2. Of course if needed I could always "hide" boxes 1 and 2 so that they cannot physically receive the RF signal meant for box 3, but I'd still need to be sure that signals meant for 1 and 2 won't hit 3 (i.e., the remote will send those signals over IR only).


Configuration Two



In the Configuration Two I would use an extra mini-blaster (and maybe an extra precision cable). If I'm able to add an extra mini-blaster (would I need to purchase the entire RF System to get it?) and if I can then separate the signals so that each cable signal goes only to one of the three mini-blasters, then that should work. The questions are 1) can I have three mini-blasters on one IR receiver and 2) if I can, can a signal be sent to any one (exactly one) of the three 3) if so, can I purchase one mini-blaster or should I just buy the RF system?


Configuration Three




If each IR receiver can only support two mini-blasters then Configuration Two wouldn't work, so here's another option. In the Configuration Three the setup is the same as Configuration Two, except now I'm using the extra IR receiver that comes with the RF system. The question now is: with this setup, can the remote be setup to send a signal any one (exactly one) of the three mini-blasters?



Sorry for the long description, but I wanted to spell everything out as clearly as possible upfront. I'd greatly appreciate any feedback. Thanks again :-)

Note: It won't let me post URLs since I'm a new member, so I'll have to add those in to replies later. Sorry about that.

Note: I also posted this on the logitech forum, so I'll be sure to post the answers in both places in case it can help anybody else.
dalto's Avatar dalto
09:46 AM Liked: 20
post #2 of 16
08-28-2010 | Posts: 437
Joined: Dec 2009
I am not really a Harmony expert but I don't think that the Harmony will let you individually address blasters like that. In other words all your signals will go out all the blasters. You may need to look an alternative control solution like URC/Nevo/Pronto for this type of advanced control.
cuavsfan's Avatar cuavsfan
11:20 AM Liked: 10
post #3 of 16
08-28-2010 | Posts: 9
Joined: Aug 2010
Thanks for the response. Based on the excerpt below, it looks like it is possible to run multiple identical devices with a Harmony remote.
Link: http://blog.logitech.com/2010/03/23/harmony-tips-and-tricks-adding-accessory-packs-to-your-harmony-900/
Quote:


Controlling identical devices. Yes, it is not so uncommon for home theaters to have identical devices in the same room. With any other remote, the signal that comes from the remote will be seen by the identical devices and therefore all will respond at the same time, even when you don't wish for this to happen. With the Logitech Harmony 900 you can add Harmony Precision IR Cables which will stick right onto each device and allow you to control each individual device separately. When these cables are used you can easily assign control to a specific RF Blaster port by following the steps right on your Logitech Harmony 900. There are four red IR emitters, each on a wire that is 8 feet in total length. The split in the cable comes 3 feet up giving you 5 feet for each wire allowing you to have plenty of cable for each device. You can see a picture of what they look like below.

I think the only real difference with my setup is that I have three identical devices rather than just two, so the question is how to extend that capability.
cuavsfan's Avatar cuavsfan
02:53 PM Liked: 10
post #4 of 16
08-28-2010 | Posts: 9
Joined: Aug 2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by dalto View Post

You may need to look an alternative control solution like URC/Nevo/Pronto for this type of advanced control.

I forgot to mention (thanks for jogging my memory!) that I looked into other remotes before and it looked like there were some that could do what I want (particularly the URC MX-980); however, as far as I could tell the software is "professional only" (not released to the general public) and I wouldn't be able to set it up or modify it myself. It looked to me like the Harmony 900 is the "best" remote that I could use as a non-professional, but if somebody has a non-Harmony solution I'd love to hear that as well. (For what it's worth, I prefer the Harmony 900 / URC MX-980 "remote style" design to something that is one big tablet-like touch screen.)
dalto's Avatar dalto
07:51 PM Liked: 20
post #5 of 16
08-28-2010 | Posts: 437
Joined: Dec 2009
OK, since nobody else has responded I will do so again. I popped open the manual on the 900 and also did some reading on the site.

Hopefully one of the Harmony guys will validate this but it looks like you can have up to 5 blasters and each blaster can have 2 mini blasters or precision IR cables. It looks like devices can be individually assigned to specific blasters and specific ports which is good news for you.

That being said, I think the only option that will work is configuration 3.

Once again I am not 100% positive here as remotes other than harmony are more my expertise but I don't think the harmony 900 can talk natively to your comcast box so configuration 1 is probably out.

It looks like each blaster only has two ports so configuration 2 probably will not work.

Configuration 3 should work but I would add a couple caveats.
1. If your devices are all in the same room you will probably have to use all precision cables instead of the mini blasters unless you have a way to isolate the IR signals. IR signals bounce pretty well and you don't want stray ir effecting the wrong devices.
2. Each blaster can only have 2 precision cables which each have 4 emitters. Keep in mind the emitters cannot be individually assigned, just the port on the blaster so you need to make sure this works for you from a wiring perspective.

One last minor note note I would make is that they are not IR receivers, they are RF receivers and logitech calls them blasters.

As far as other brands go the 3 I mentioned should all work in addition to the Harmony. It is more about what you like to do and how much time you are willing to spend programming the remote.

For URC you can get the software if you buy from the right dealer. For Nevo the software comes in the box. The pronto is software is downloadable from philips.

If you provide some specifics about how you are planning to use the remote we could probably provide a better recommendation.
cuavsfan's Avatar cuavsfan
09:01 PM Liked: 10
post #6 of 16
08-28-2010 | Posts: 9
Joined: Aug 2010
Thanks for replying again and for your detailed help. I figured that if it didn't work I could always return it so I picked up a Harmony 900 and did a little testing. (Unfortunately the extra blasters, cables, etc. weren't available.)

I wasn't able to find clear answers online ahead of time, but after looking in the box I realize I made a few mistakes. I thought the precision cables plugged into the mini-blasters, but instead they plug into the (main) blaster IN PLACE OF the mini-blasters. Also, as you mention the main blaster only has two ports. Hopefully that didn't confuse anyone too much. (I really with Logitech's pages gave more details...)

With just what comes in the Harmony 900 box, it looks like these are the ways to control each device.
1) IR from remote (that's what configuration 1 was supposed to show)
2) RF from remote to blaster, mini-blaster plugged into Port A of blaster, IR from mini-blaster to device
3) Same as 2 except for use Port B
4) RF from remote to blaster, IR from blaster to device

Of course as you mentioned for all of these care must be taken so that the IR signals only reach the desired devices. This can be mitigated by using precision cables, so that 2 (and 3) change to:

2*) RF from remote to blaster, flasher cable plugged into Port A of blaster going to device (via precision IR)

If adding blasters allows devices to be assigned to specific ports on specific blasters (I'm still not sure if that is true), then each blaster added would conceivably let you control two more identical devices.

I think with all of that I have enough information to know that this will work for me. Thanks again for taking the time to spell that all out for me. Hopefully this can help others with similar questions too :-)

Quote:
Originally Posted by dalto View Post

One last minor note note I would make is that they are not IR receivers, they are RF receivers and logitech calls them blasters.

Whoops! I guess when I spend too long searching for solutions online they all start to run together and I forget which one is RF and which one is IR. I made the same mistake in a couple places in that first post -- sorry for the confusion. Thanks for the correction :-)
I've reread this post a bunch of times so hopefully I didn't make the same mistake again...

EDIT: I mistakenly had 4 out of the box methods when there are only three. I think it is correct now.
ckellyusa's Avatar ckellyusa
01:28 PM Liked: 10
post #7 of 16
09-09-2010 | Posts: 172
Joined: Feb 2007
I don't know if it's too late, but if you haven't made your purchase yet, you can look at the Harmony 1100. The blasters it comes with have 4 assignable jacks which might help out!
cuavsfan's Avatar cuavsfan
08:48 PM Liked: 10
post #8 of 16
09-09-2010 | Posts: 9
Joined: Aug 2010
I think I should have everything setup within a week and when I do I'll give all the details to help anybody who might find this thread.

For my setup it looks like the 2 assignable jacks will be sufficient, but that is definitely nice to know in case I expand in the future. Thanks :-)
bmmarti3's Avatar bmmarti3
02:58 PM Liked: 10
post #9 of 16
09-21-2010 | Posts: 10
Joined: Jul 2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by cuavsfan View Post

I think I should have everything setup within a week and when I do I'll give all the details to help anybody who might find this thread.

For my setup it looks like the 2 assignable jacks will be sufficient, but that is definitely nice to know in case I expand in the future. Thanks :-)

If you want to give a final summary of how your set up and how it works that would be great. I have 3 TVs (all on the same IR frequency) and 3 cable boxes (all on the same IR frequency) sitting next to each other.

I can live with the TVs being the same (just volume control issues), but the cable boxes are just plain annoying to deal with.
cuavsfan's Avatar cuavsfan
12:57 PM Liked: 10
post #10 of 16
09-25-2010 | Posts: 9
Joined: Aug 2010
So I finally got everything done.

Here's how my final setup works (essentially the same as the diagram above):
The RF reciever / main blaster has two ports on the back of it. I have a precision cable connected to each port. On the cable from port A I have one tv and one cable box, and on the cable from port B I have another TV and cable box. The final TV I'm just controlling w/ IR from the remote directly, and the final cable box gets IR from the main blaster. I have my cable boxes on three different shelves, but I still had some "IR bleeding" issues (i.e., all three boxes responding at once) -- a little electrical tape to fully cover the IR receiver area on the cable boxes using precision cables took care of that. With this setup I can control all three TVs and cable boxes independently.

For control w/ the remote I made activities such as "Control TV1" to take over a TV and its box. I used the option to leave devices on when leaving an activity, so I can switch between control of TVs by changing activities w/o them turning off. I also set it to not change any TV inputs when starting activities, so the only thing a TV does when I start an activity is turn on (unless it is already on). This way I can easily switch between them on the remote.

One other note: The Logitech Precision IR Cables come with two sets in each box. In other words, buying one box will give you two cords, each of which can connect to four devices. I didn't know this ahead of time and assumed one cable per box so I bought an extra one.

I hope this is helpful for others. If anybody has any other questions about how my setup works feel free to ask and I'll help out if I can. :-)
bmmarti3's Avatar bmmarti3
01:04 PM Liked: 10
post #11 of 16
09-28-2010 | Posts: 10
Joined: Jul 2010
Hey, thanks a lot for the update. I'm going to do something very similar as soon as I find the time.
cuavsfan's Avatar cuavsfan
05:45 PM Liked: 10
post #12 of 16
09-28-2010 | Posts: 9
Joined: Aug 2010
Good luck!
GreyWiz's Avatar GreyWiz
03:16 PM Liked: 10
post #13 of 16
10-11-2010 | Posts: 72
Joined: Feb 2007
Where did you buy the precision cables? I want to get some, but other than the Logitech site, it is hard to find anyone who ships relatively quickly
cuavsfan's Avatar cuavsfan
06:39 PM Liked: 10
post #14 of 16
10-11-2010 | Posts: 9
Joined: Aug 2010
I bought them through the Logitech site. I didn't have any problems so I'd recommend going that route. As far as I could tell they are pretty hard to find outside of the Logitech site for some reason.
GreyWiz's Avatar GreyWiz
08:23 PM Liked: 10
post #15 of 16
10-11-2010 | Posts: 72
Joined: Feb 2007
Ordered them. Thanks.
I'm going to do something similar to what you did for a friend of mine. They have two cable boxes in the closet amoungst other items, but they have to be separated. I'll put one on A and one on B. Aside from putting an IR emitter from A and B on the other items and making "2" rooms, I'm looking to put everything on A except one box and the 2nd cable box on B only.


They have in this cabinet, hooked up to a Russound CAV6.6 two cable boxes that distribute to various rooms and I swapped out their other remots to use the IR from Russound via Hamony One's. They love them so I'm going the Harmony 900 route for their main room to replace an MX350.

Would you create a "PVR" room with their TV, Cable Box 1 and Denon A/V and a Cable 2 room with their TV, Cable Box 2 and Denon A/V ?

My preference would be to route all signals trough the "A' from the blaster and have "B" only send to Cable Box 2.....so if they go to Cable Box 2 mode, they'd turn the TV on line of site and the A/V through the B channel (as not to have multiple IR emmiters glued to the front of units?

Rambling I know but thoughts?

I suppose to save confusion from above...the closet has:
Denon AVR-1707 (feeding main room sound from either cable box)
Russound CAV6.6 serving a bedroom and games room that also can show Blu-Ray or either of the two Cable Boxes.
Samsung Blu-Ray Plaer
Two Rogers Cable boxes...one is a PVR.

When I got to it to help them and swapped out Cable for the Sat boxes they had. The Integrator had it so they could only see "Sat 2/Cable2" in the games room and bedroom and the PVR was in the Family room.
I fixed it so they can do PVR or Cable 2 now in the bedroom and games room (independent)....and my goal when I go up with the Harmony 900 is to make the Family room able to do either as well. (only PVR currently) I needed a component / rca splitters due to the limits of the Denon and their 2nd cable box outputs.

Oh, and this Integrator company that makes a strong living in London, Ontario, also sold them 4 years ago Hitachi 1080P LCD's........and ran Component to them instead of conduit or HDMI.

I hooked up a Blu-Ray via HDMI to the front to show them the difference and I think I just made them angrier with the guy. (I told them to wait a year and we'll do wireless HDMI for a decent price .....I'll put a Monoprice 4x4 HDMI switch too.)

Sorry for the rant....it was my request for advice and rant over a dick integrator.
CMonMan's Avatar CMonMan
09:10 PM Liked: 33
post #16 of 16
04-15-2013 | Posts: 269
Joined: Oct 2012
Quote:
Originally Posted by cuavsfan View Post

So I finally got everything done.


Here's how my final setup works (essentially the same as the diagram above):

The RF reciever / main blaster has two ports on the back of it. I have a precision cable connected to each port. On the cable from port A I have one tv and one cable box, and on the cable from port B I have another TV and cable box. The final TV I'm just controlling w/ IR from the remote directly, and the final cable box gets IR from the main blaster. I have my cable boxes on three different shelves, but I still had some "IR bleeding" issues (i.e., all three boxes responding at once) -- a little electrical tape to fully cover the IR receiver area on the cable boxes using precision cables took care of that. With this setup I can control all three TVs and cable boxes independently.


For control w/ the remote I made activities such as "Control TV1" to take over a TV and its box. I used the option to leave devices on when leaving an activity, so I can switch between control of TVs by changing activities w/o them turning off. I also set it to not change any TV inputs when starting activities, so the only thing a TV does when I start an activity is turn on (unless it is already on). This way I can easily switch between them on the remote.


One other note: The Logitech Precision IR Cables come with two sets in each box. In other words, buying one box will give you two cords, each of which can connect to four devices. I didn't know this ahead of time and assumed one cable per box so I bought an extra one.


I hope this is helpful for others. If anybody has any other questions about how my setup works feel free to ask and I'll help out if I can. :-)



This just made my day. Words cannot express how excited I am to have read this thread. If you happen to see this, THANK YOU!!!
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