RF Interference -- going mad! - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 30 Old 05-29-2012, 12:40 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm having issues with RF interference (Universal Remote MX-880 & RFX-250 Receiver with Samsung plasma 50" HD TV and TiVO HD). The receiver and all equipment is in a closet in a small room just next to the den in which the TV is located. I thought maybe this "masking tape trick" I'd read about might work, but now I see that it addresses only IR interference??

It's quite maddening because I can go for days, weeks and sometimes months without any issues and then I'll have interference occur (the second light that shouldn't be on is either dimly lit or brightly lit). Repositioning rarely helps. This occurs sometimes for just an hour or so, sometimes for most of the day, sometimes just for that one day, sometimes over the course of 2-3 days or more. This renders the remote either completely useless or else I have to click several times before the command will register--VERY aggravating!

I've noticed that sometimes some functions seem unaffected (mute, turning TV/receiver on/off) while others won't work at all (FF/REV, channel change, switching between live TV and Now Playing list). Also, sometimes the TiVO remote works (while I'm standing in the room with the equipment) and sometimes it won't. Of course, even when it works that's hardly a solution since I have to go to the equipment room and can't see the TV from the there.

The problem is so intermittent there appears to be no rhyme or reason and I've no idea what could be causing the interference. There is nothing different going on in our home during the times of interference. I can only surmise it has to do with a neighbor or environmental factors beyond my control?

This has been an intermittent problem ever since we first got the system about 6 years ago. Because the original Universal Remote died, I recently replaced it with a later model (MX-880) and experience the same trouble. The guy who put the system in hasn't been much help. Another guy I hired was some help, but the problem persists. Any help would be GREATLY appreciated!
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post #2 of 30 Old 05-29-2012, 01:46 PM
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Sounds like you need to replace the RFX-250. I'd go with a MRF-350 and relocate the antenna as needed.

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post #3 of 30 Old 05-29-2012, 02:24 PM
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Do you use wireless headphones? I had a friend who did and it caused some weird RF interference. Moved the base station away from equipment and it resolved his issues. Just a thought.
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post #4 of 30 Old 05-30-2012, 09:44 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replies!

No wireless headphones. We have a wireless router and cordless phones, but they're always in operation and the interference occurs intermittently. As I noted, sometimes days at a time (unfortunately, that's ocurring now) and then I may have no problem for weeks at a time. Today I can't even turn the system on/off with the remote--so the interference seems worse.

I just took a look at the MRF-350. This appears to be something that works WITH the RX-250 rather than replace it? I don't see anything that looks like a base station in my set-up so is this something I could add that would block interference?
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post #5 of 30 Old 05-30-2012, 12:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saibari View Post

Thanks for the replies!

No wireless headphones. We have a wireless router and cordless phones, but they're always in operation and the interference occurs intermittently. As I noted, sometimes days at a time (unfortunately, that's ocurring now) and then I may have no problem for weeks at a time. Today I can't even turn the system on/off with the remote--so the interference seems worse.

I just took a look at the MRF-350. This appears to be something that works WITH the RX-250 rather than replace it? I don't see anything that looks like a base station in my set-up so is this something I could add that would block interference?

I'm not sure what you have, but the RFX-250 is only an antenna. It has to be plugged into an RF to IR extender such as the MRF-350 or MSC-400. If it isn't then that would be your problem. Trace back to where your IR emitters are connected and find the product info. If you have the MX-880 programming software you could change the RF channel used between the remote and antenna to possibly mitigate the interference.

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post #6 of 30 Old 05-31-2012, 11:23 AM - Thread Starter
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I couldn't tell you what the RFX-250 is plugged into. My equipment is very tightly packed in the closet. I just tried pulling it out a bit to see if I could tell where the wire is going to and something popped off! It's one of those little black sensors with the red light on them? It's dangling now. I certainly hope it still functions and that it's not supposed to be fastened somewhere!

So what exactly is the "masking tape trick" and is it something I might try? This really is a crazy situation and I don't understand why the two AV home theater guys I've worked with can't figure it out!
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post #7 of 30 Old 05-31-2012, 12:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saibari View Post

It's one of those little black sensors with the red light on them? It's dangling now. I certainly hope it still functions and that it's not supposed to be fastened somewhere!

So what exactly is the "masking tape trick" and is it something I might try? This really is a crazy situation and I don't understand why the two AV home theater guys I've worked with can't figure it out!

Sounds like you might have pulled off an IR emitter may have been adhered to a piece of equipment. You can stick back on with a little hot glue gun or clear silicone caulking.

As far as masking tape, your equipment receives all the IR signals it sees. If it's compatible it will put thru the commands if not it will reject it but your equipment may need time to be able to receive another command. If you can assign what signal goes to what emitter, putting the emitter under masking tape will allow the equipment to see only the commands you assign to that IR emitter. Masking tape will block the other IR signals that may be bouncing around walls or glass in close vicinity.
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post #8 of 30 Old 05-31-2012, 12:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saibari View Post

I couldn't tell you what the RFX-250 is plugged into. My equipment is very tightly packed in the closet. I just tried pulling it out a bit to see if I could tell where the wire is going to and something popped off! It's one of those little black sensors with the red light on them? It's dangling now. I certainly hope it still functions and that it's not supposed to be fastened somewhere!

So what exactly is the "masking tape trick" and is it something I might try? This really is a crazy situation and I don't understand why the two AV home theater guys I've worked with can't figure it out!

The thing that popped off needs put back on. You should look for the IR receivers on your equipment and see which device is missing the stick on emitter. You will probably see some adhesive residue from the emitter that popped off. Put it back in place.

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post #9 of 30 Old 05-31-2012, 12:56 PM
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Check out some of the older threads at Remote Central. RF Interference is a nasty problem that pops up every now and then and most installers have a few tricks up their sleeves to help alleviate them. The key here is to find out what the RFX250 is plugged into.
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post #10 of 30 Old 06-01-2012, 02:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saibari View Post

I'm having issues with RF interference (Universal Remote MX-880 & RFX-250 Receiver

First, you need to ascertain where the interference is coming from. It could be by the receiving antenna and/or the power/control connection lead to your RFX-250. You will need some RF chokes like the one here or here. Place one choke on the power/control lead fairly close to your RFX-250. Use at least two loops through the choke. If this eliminates the problem then you are good to go, if not you will need to move your RFX-250 till you no longer have interference.

I have a MX-850 and MRF-250 (old style). I have a choke on the power lead and a choke on the blaster lead. The blaster lead goes to a Xantech distribution block. The MRF-250 is located in the far corner of my media room. Make sure you have RF chokes at each end of all your DVI or/and HDMI cables.
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post #11 of 30 Old 06-02-2012, 02:40 PM - Thread Starter
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Thank you SO much for all the replies. The sad reality is that I'm just too ignorant regarding my equipment and these suggestions are a bit beyond me. I have a new AV guy coming over on Wednesday to troubleshoot. I actually need to buy a new remote anyway (the screen on my MX-880 went blank after I dropped it). This new guy is suggesting a Logitech remote. He says it runs on a different frequency (like the newer cordless phones do) and is subject to a lot less interference. Sounds good to me! The price seems comparable to the Universal Remote models. Do you all agree that this is a good route to take?

Thanks again!
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post #12 of 30 Old 06-03-2012, 09:38 AM
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An AV installer recommending Logitech to replace URC? Did you find this guy on craigslist or Best Buy?

IMO it is not a good route to take, but it is your money.

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post #13 of 30 Old 06-03-2012, 11:13 AM - Thread Starter
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Uh-oh. Why do you say that? My Universal Remote has NEVER operated consistently reliably. Interference has been an issue to one extent or another since the beginning (over 6 or more years ago). Is the consensus that Logitech is not as good as UR?
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post #14 of 30 Old 06-03-2012, 05:07 PM
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if you're going to go Logitech.... do it yourself. Thats what they're made for. If you're hiring a pro you should be able to get a URC or RTI system that can do a lot more. the problem is that they are only as good as the programmers. if you were never happy with th URC remote my guess is hat you actually had a poor install experience.
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post #15 of 30 Old 06-04-2012, 03:06 PM - Thread Starter
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So are you saying that the trouble with my UR remotes has been that they weren't properly programmed/installed? There's nothing about Logitech remotes that would make them less susceptible to interference?
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post #16 of 30 Old 06-06-2012, 05:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saibari View Post

So are you saying that the trouble with my UR remotes has been that they weren't properly programmed/installed? There's nothing about Logitech remotes that would make them less susceptible to interference?

They both use RF. If there is an RF interference issue in your house then the Harmony RF may have the same issues. Most people switch from URC to Harmony because they can't program the remote because they didn't obtain the required software.

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post #17 of 30 Old 06-07-2012, 10:55 AM - Thread Starter
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So I think my AV system just wants to punish me. I got the Logitech Harmony 900 yesterday. Good news: NO interference issues at all!! Bad news: for some bizarre reason the Logiitech can't control the receiver. eek.gif That is it can't turn it on/off, switch from one item to another or control the volume. Oddly enough, the ONLY thing my UR remote did reliably (even when interference was preventing all other functions) was turn the receiver (Marantz) on/off and control the volume! (most of the time anyway)

The AV guy is stumped. He would say something is wrong with the receiver because even more oddly, the receiver's own remote won't turn it on/off either (though it does do some other things). But it can't be that something's wrong with the receiver because the UR remote worked fine with it (during the rare times there was no interference) and (as I noted) would very reliable turn it on/off. Because the receiver's remote isn't working properly either, he couldn't program the Logitech from that remote. So here I sit with a partially working remote... again... Aaaaaaargh! mad.gif

So the AV guy is researching the issue and contacting Logitech so hopefully a solution will be found because I do NOT want to buy a new receiver. However, this is an improved situation because while it's VERY annoying to not be able to control the volume, turning the sytsem on/off manually and selecting different functions (TV, DVD, radio, etc) manually isn't nearly as problematic as when the UR remote refused to do anything! At least I can rewind/FF, change channels, etc.

But yes, this is an absurd situation and it doesn't seem like asking too much to get a remote that works when one is spending hundreds of dollars! The Logitech is far less expensive than the UR so hopefully it will work out.

If anyone has any insights into this situation, I'd love to hear it! Thanks again for all the replies.
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post #18 of 30 Old 06-07-2012, 11:48 AM
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Are you using the mini blasters to send the commands to the receiver? Did the installer try to use the IR straight from the remote rather than using the extender? It may narrow things down a bit, if it works that way.
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post #19 of 30 Old 06-07-2012, 02:23 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks! I checked with the AV guy and he said: Logitech doesn't use the same kind of blasters that the old remote used, but they basically do the same thing so yes I was using the blasters, and I did try it with out using them as well. And regardless if it worked without the blasters, that would do us no good with the receiver being in the closet as you have to have line of sight to the equipment to make IR work.
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post #20 of 30 Old 06-08-2012, 06:46 AM
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Ya, I understand you still need line of site. Just wanted to be certain you could rule out that the RF extender wasn't still being affected by some sort of interference. Just for fun (if you could call it that) I would try to increase the following setting under the troubleshooting option.

AV Receiver responds to some commands either too many times or only occasionally.

If AV Receiver is not responding, try increasing the setting.

If it is responding too much, then try decreasing the setting.
0
1
2
3
4
5

I would kick it right up to 5 and see what happens.

The other thing I would try is to add another receiver of a similar model, probably the previous generation if you know what that is. See if that works, you don't need to add it to any activities. Simply go to device mode and select the test receiver and see if your existing receiver responds to any commands.

Good luck, hope it works out for you.
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post #21 of 30 Old 06-08-2012, 09:03 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks! I'll pass this along. But do you have any idea why the Marantz's own remote isn't working properly? That's the piece of the puzzle that indicates there may be a problem with the receiver. But I keep thinking that can't be the case because the UR remote worked fine with the receiver when there was no interference.Could there be a problem with the receiver that the UR remote was able to overcome and the Logitech can't?? Is that even possible? confused.gif Grrrr... why is it too much to ask to get a remote that works?! mad.gif
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post #22 of 30 Old 06-08-2012, 09:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saibari View Post

But do you have any idea why the Marantz's own remote isn't working properly? :

As oman321 noted, open the equipment cabinet door, use the Marantz remote and point it direct at the receiver and see if it works properly. If it does then you have interface issues.
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post #23 of 30 Old 06-08-2012, 10:19 AM - Thread Starter
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As oman321 noted, open the equipment cabinet door, use the Marantz remote and point it direct at the receiver and see if it works properly. If it does then you have interface issues.

Yes. We did that. The Marantz remote control will not turn the receiver on/off, though it does control the volume. This is why the AV guy suspects something is wrong with the receiver. However, the UR remote controlled the receiver just fine (from another room and directly) as long as there was no interference in the RFX-250. So I would think this indicates there's nothing wrong with the receiver.

Unfortunately, of late there was near constant interference with the RFX-250... which is what sent me down this rabbit hole to begin with! I would replace the RFX-250 with an upgraded version but I also need to replace the UR remote (because the screen is blank) and the cost of replacing both pieces of UR equipment is ridiculously high. The Logitech seems to have solved the interference trouble and works like a charm in controlling the TiVo and DVD, but it will not control the receiver ... Aaaaargh!
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post #24 of 30 Old 06-08-2012, 12:51 PM
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Can you check to see if your receiver has a 3.5mm IR input control. The IR receiver on the AV receiver may be faulty. It could be receiving some commands from the UR if it's IR emitters are more powerful. If your AV receiver does have a 3.5mm input for IR control you would need a 2.5mm to 3.5mm adapter in order to plug into it directly from the 900's RF extender.
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post #25 of 30 Old 06-09-2012, 11:31 AM - Thread Starter
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I'm afraid, oman 321, that all of this is Greek to me. I did pass along your post to the AV guy and also asked if it is possible that there's some malfunction in the receiver that the UR remote is able to cope with but that the Logitech and Marantz remotes cannot. He replied:
Quote:
The UR did have a 12v trigger plugged in to the receiver. Unfortunately Logitech doesn't use that kind of hook up. That could be why the UR was able to power the receiver on/off and control volume all the time, even with the interference. ... Just had a thought...since the UR had a direct plug in from the remote RF receiver, even the weakest signal would get through to it. So you were right before when you said the UR remote was doing something the Logitech and the Marantz remote can't do, and that's bypassing the IR eye in the front of the receiver which they both rely on.

Does this make sense? Does this mean I either have to replace the receiver or replace the UR remote and antenna? Seems like the total cost will be lower to replace the receiver since replacing the UR remote and UR RFX-250 will cost over $700 or $800!! The good news is that so far I've had no interference issues at all with the Logitech (whereas the UR remote was having near constant interference over the past few weeks).

Thanks again for all the helpful input you all have provided!
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post #26 of 30 Old 06-10-2012, 11:17 AM
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Sounds like the receiver is malfunctioning. I'd take it in to an authorized dealer and have it repaired.
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post #27 of 30 Old 06-11-2012, 11:13 AM - Thread Starter
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I hadn't thought about repairing the receiver. It's about 8 years old so I don't know that it would be worth the cost. Also, turns out I can get a UR MX-450 and MRF-350 for about the same cost (or maybe even a bit less) as keeping the Logitech Harmony 900 and buying a new receiver. The thing is that the Logitech has been working flawlessly--no interference issues at all. So even though I understand the MRF-350 shouldn't have the same interference issues, I'm more than a bit leery about going with the UR given all the issues I've had with it . ... plus I wonder if it will eventually have trouble controlling the receiver depending on what's wrong with it? I welcome any thoughts/suggestions... Thanks!
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post #28 of 30 Old 06-13-2012, 10:08 AM
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I know I am too late but for future reference I find this helps. Cordless phones, 1 it could be your own, also it could be a neighbors. You cant control your nighbor. Try setting your phone to the lowest possible channel IE 1. And try setting your wifi to the highest channel. Outside of a gaussian cage you are SOL if your nieghbors are causing it. That is unless you can choose the channel for the remote. But this can work good anyway just to try to increase your wifi stability and tranfer rates.
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post #29 of 30 Old 06-15-2012, 09:59 AM - Thread Starter
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Yeah... I think the interference had to have been coming from a neighbor because I had replaced my cordless phones and it didn't make a difference. The Logitech is doing great as far as no interference but I'm still trying to figure out why it won't control the receiver. I hate to buy a new receiver if I don't have to!
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post #30 of 30 Old 06-23-2012, 09:52 AM - Thread Starter
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MYSTERY SOLVED!! So it turns out there's nothing wrong with my Marantz receiver. The reason its own remote wasn't controlling it was because we hadn't pushed the "amp" button on it! But we still had to figure out why the Logitech Harmony 900 was not able to control it. After speaking to Logitech support for a bit they 'fessed up that this is a KNOWN issue! Apparently for some reason it can't control certain models of Marantz receivers. Mine is about 5 years old. Why they didn't tell us this to begin with I don't know!! mad.gif Their engineers are "working on it" but they can't say when they'll find a solution. How aggravating!

However, since the Logitech has had no interference issues whatsoever and since it actually costs less for me to replace the receiver than to get a new UR set-up, I am grudgingly going that route. Grrr!
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