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iPad to MRF-350 - use iTach WF2IR?

post #1 of 33
Thread Starter 
Hi,

I have recently acquired an iPad and would like to give a shot at controlling my Home Theater from the iPad (using iRule). Current remote set up is:
URC MX-850
URC MRF-350/250

I see the MRF-350 has a separate IR input on the rear pan. I'm wondering if any one has tried connecting a Global Cache iTach WF2IR to the MRF-350? If so - can you reply with details?

This seems to be the only way to use my iPad without replacing key components (and, as a result, making my MX850 useless which I definitely don't want to do). Other thoughts input to controlling this set up from the iPad?

Thanks in advance
post #2 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by bg56 View Post

Hi,

I have recently acquired an iPad and would like to give a shot at controlling my Home Theater from the iPad (using iRule). Current remote set up is:
URC MX-850
URC MRF-350/250

I see the MRF-350 has a separate IR input on the rear pan. I'm wondering if any one has tried connecting a Global Cache iTach WF2IR to the MRF-350? If so - can you reply with details?

This seems to be the only way to use my iPad without replacing key components (and, as a result, making my MX850 useless which I definitely don't want to do). Other thoughts input to controlling this set up from the iPad?

Thanks in advance

I don't have that piece of equipment, but the iTach will control any equipment with a rear 1/8 plug for IR. Works much better than a IR bud in front. I use it on a Yamaha amp this way.
post #3 of 33
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the reply - the folks at iRule weren't sure about this configuration as it appears the particular configuration I want to try may be unproven. I'm thinking something like this:

iPad<-->iTach WiFi2IR-->MRF-350 (via rear IR Input)--> IR Emitters already connected to components |

The MRF-350 doesn't have a plug - it appears to have separate connectors so - the connection from the WiFi2IR will be via jack at WiFi2IR end and lose wires at the MRF-350 end. All IR input to the MRF-350 rear IR input is relayed via the emitters (I've read somewhere the rear input is not relayed via the front blaster but I don't use the front blaster any way)

Thanks again
post #4 of 33
The MRF-350's IR input transmits IR to all six ports and is not routed like it can be when using RF. To connect it all you have to do is cut off the end of a 3.5mm cable and strip the ends. It it recommended that you "tin" the wires which is simply coating them with solder so they don't fray. It is simple and explained in the owner's manual.

It should do as you wish as long as you don't require the port routing.
post #5 of 33
Thread Starter 
byransj,
Thanks for the reply. Seems like a fairly straight forward solution - I'll give it a short and reply back.
post #6 of 33
I would be interested to hear if this works.
post #7 of 33
Are you looking to have both the MRF-350 and the iTach feed the same IR emitters? If so, I wonder if something like this would work...

http://www.speakercraft.com/download...es.file&id=320

I'm interested because I have the MX-900 and MRF-260 and I would like to continue using the MRF-260 when I finally get an IP2IR.
post #8 of 33
Thread Starter 
The ITACH device arrived today and, as it turns out, SmartHome sent an IP2IR NOT an WF2IR. While I wanted a WF2IR, IP2IR works fine for me as I have a hub in my Theater wiring closet.

Initial findings:
- First - I discovered my URC device is NOT a MRF-350 but an MRF-250. I only learned this as I had to dig up the manuals to: 1) ensure I knew what was ground and data for the IR input jack; 2) The MRF was not relaying the IR inputs to the IR emitters. As it turns out, I had to use my MX-850 remote and the MX Editor s/w to change the MRF-250 setting to send commands to each device from RF AND IR inputs. A very simple matter once I figured out why the IR inputs were not being relayed to the IR emitters. For those folks with MRF-350s - the sections of the manual for each appears identical when it comes to dealing with IR input from the ITACH. As for how I connected the IP2IR to the MRF-250, I took an emitter cable (not sure of the "proper" name but this is a the cable with a jack on one end and single emitter on the other end), clipped the emitter off the cable, stripped the wire, used a soldering iron to tin the ends, placed the RED wire in the DATA slot and shield in the GRND slot of the MRF-250 IR IN.
- The ITACH works as advertised. The web interface is intuitive enough. I used iHelp to locate the ITACH, copy the MAC address then assign a permanent IP address to the ITACH from my router and the ITACH picked up the new assignment with no problems.
- While there were a few "learning" moments for me, the iRule and the ITACH work together well. I made a few goofs like forgetting to add the lighting system device to my iRule definitions for the gateway on the iPad which caused an "unable to connect to gateway" error (or something like that) every time I navigated to the page with lighting commands. That error apparently doesn't always mean that iRule cannot connect to the gateway but, in fact, can also mean the device isn't defined to the gateway on the iPad.
- Now... for the fun part - as been discussed and bemoaned many times, the device codes database appears to be lacking. It took SIGNIFICANT experimentation to program my simple lighting schemes (on, off and 4 scenes). The reason, the button names on the only iRule device definitions for LiteTouch were very generic (Station FF button 1, etc.) and did not correlate to the names I was looking for.
- STB (Scientific Atlanta 8300HD) - mixed results, many of the device codes work as expected and I'm still organizing my UI. However, I've yet to find a "SELECT" buttom device code in the only definition in the iRule database - this is a show stopper and I will likely have to learn all the buttons for this device.
- Pioneer DV-45A - simple initial test of "open/close" failed - indicating I may have to learn the codes for this device.
- Finally, I took a shot at using iLearn which worked reasonably well although it seems a bit esoteric for folks not really familiar with IR technology. However, I have not yet figured out how to UPLOAD the definition to iRule. In iRule, when I select the file created by iLearn - iRule happily accepts my selection but takes no apparent action. No errors, no new device in the list - I need to go back and look at documentation and tutorials.

Question to those reading this post - has anyone managed to upload learned device definitions from an ITACH IP2IR into iRule? If so, can you post details of what you did? And.. finally, I'm still using the TRIAL version of iRule before I commit to the full price or decide to try iMasterControl - any one know if the TRIAL version of iRule can upload custom device definitions? (I know it CANNOT upload custom images but there is a clear error message thrown when I try).

More to come as I progress - any and all input appreciated and welcome.
post #9 of 33
Thread Starter 
OK... reviewed the tutorial again. Forgot I had to create an XML file for upload. Now, the upload actually works but I have yet to find the magic incantation (XML format) of the Global Cache codes from iLearn. I assume I should be adding an "ELEMENT" after the GLOBAL CACHE CODES entry in the XML file using the XMLPAD editor but have not yet found an approach that makes the codes show up in the uploaded file.

Hoping someone points out what I'm doing wrong here...

Updating with results so far...
- While there isn't explicit documentation on the format - the example NETWORK CODES shows the format - I copied those examples up to the Global Cache Codes entry and it uploaded fine.
- Next step - test the uploaded device codes then the fun part of creating the device file to upload which is going to be a royal pain.
post #10 of 33
Thread Starter 
for those interested / following this thread. I have the iPad working with iRule through the ITACH to my URC MRF-250 just fine. I also managed to get the database device codes for my STB (SA 8300HD) working. However, I have had zero success on learned codes or even entering hex codes manually.

Process I am following:
- test the remote, ensure the button controls the component I want to learn the code for
- set up the IP2IR on a flat surface with the remote
- run iLearn, capture the button multiple times, trimming each time, ensuring I am getting a consistent learned command
- transfer the command data from the iLearn saved data to the XML file starting with the 5 digit number at the front of the command string using XMLPAD to edit / save the XML file
- upload the device XML file into iRule
- ensure there are no other commands assigned to the button in the iRule definition
- assign the command to a button
- save / synch / go to gateway in iRule on the iPad and ensure the device is on channel 1 for the IP2IR gateway
- test using iRule on the iPad - all attempts have resulted in no response - I can see all emitters on the components lighting up, so I know the IP2IR is sending the command properly
- I have also tried entering the poweron and poweroff hex codes into the XML file (found them in www.remotecentral.com) - in this case, the IR is not even output from the gateway (emitters are not lighting up, IP2IR IR out port does not illuminate)

Hoping someone has managed to learn IR codes with iLearn or found another way to get IR codes into iRule as I've reached a dead end on this one.

Thanks
post #11 of 33
Thread Starter 
Progress has been slow and maybe not steady...

I have determined my problems are NOT with iRule (I have also tried iMasterControl with same results as well as direct IR from iLearn). In fact, I have managed to get my AV receiver and lighting system to respond as expected to commands sent via the IP2IR to the MRF-250 and out the emitters to all the various components and they respond as expected.

HOWEVER, nothing I have tried can get my DVD (Pioneer DV-45A) to respond to any signals sent to them if initiated from the IP2IR.

What I've tried so far:
- iRule - Database entry (power and openclose commands)
- iRule - learned commands (Global Cache and Hex Codes) - imported XML file created using data from Global Cache iLearn
- same scenarios with iMaster Control
- sending learned commands from iLearn (learn the command, then hit "SEND IR")
- switch out emitter to DVD and retry from iLearn

I know commands are being sent as the visible light on all the emitters in my rack are lighting up.
The DVD responds as expected to IR commands sent from my MX-850 through the MRF-250
Only commands from the IP2IR through the MRF-250 appear to be failing

Tomorrow, I'll try learning commands from the MX-850 rather than the Pioneer remote and I will try different IR output jacks in the IP2IR. The only common thread at this point is the IP2IR - it's almost as if it's not sending a strong enough signal for the DV-45A to pick-up. I'm not sure this makes total sense as the IP2IR connection the the MRF-250 is electrical (all-be-it an IR wire).

If any has any thoughts or input, as usual your ideas will be appreciated.

Thanks
post #12 of 33
Thread Starter 
As it turns out - the emitter to my DVD WAS dead. I believe the MX-850 was emitting a strong enough IR signal that it was bleeding past the emitter and driving the DVD on it's own and we just didn't catch on that the emitter was failing. Not sure how I over looked this when I ran tests the first time to determine if the emitter was dead but one more wild goose chase down and now it's time to start doing layouts.

I'm closing out this thread and will post progress as the "iRule versus iMasterControl" battle begins in the iRule and iMasterControl threads. I have connected both iRule and iMC through the IP2IR into my MRF-250 and next step is to determine which provides the best and most usable UI for our family-specific situation.

Let the fun begin...
post #13 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by bg56 View Post

As it turns out - the emitter to my DVD WAS dead. I believe the MX-850 was emitting a strong enough IR signal that it was bleeding past the emitter and driving the DVD on it's own and we just didn't catch on that the emitter was failing. Not sure how I over looked this when I ran tests the first time to determine if the emitter was dead but one more wild goose chase down and now it's time to start doing layouts.

I'm closing out this thread and will post progress as the "iRule versus iMasterControl" battle begins in the iRule and iMasterControl threads. I have connected both iRule and iMC through the IP2IR into my MRF-250 and next step is to determine which provides the best and most usable UI for our family-specific situation.

Let the fun begin...

BG56, I've been reading with great interest as I have the same setup as a poster above, MX900 and MRF260. First question is what exactly did you connect the wire from the iTach to MRF250 with? I'm not sure what input is on the unit as I do own an MRF250 but its not in use. Second, are the IR commands you are using coming from the iRule database or something you've imported from another database? I see you have learned commands that seem to work now with the new emmiter, is that correct or is it just the database codes that work now? Hope my questions aren't confusing, I'm just rambling a bit as I type. I really hope this works out as I don't want to dump my three MX900's, I want to supplement them.
post #14 of 33
Thread Starter 
ekkoville,
Great questions...

Connections from the ITACH to MRF:
- I connected into the IR In in the back of the MRF
- Even though there are THREE connections, only TWO matter - the documentation for MRF is poor as the diagram showing what is what is very low resolution. I figured out the left port is "DATA" and the right most port is "GROUND". For me, this meant connecting the RED wire to DATA and the SHIELD (no inside insulator) to GROUND. Based on recommendations, I tinned the wires. To avoid losing any conductive material, I also used the solder to burn off the insulation from the data wire (RED) rather than stripping it.

Commands - I've used a combination of the following:
- commands from the iRule database
- commands from iMasterControl database
- learned commands
at this moment, I'm doing more extensive testing using all DB commands from iRule. It appears there may be one or two commands I may want / need to learn.

Sounds like you're doing exactly what I'm doing - supplementing an existing URC (in my case, MX-850). After a full two days of experimenting, I think this is going to work exactly that way.

Feel free to reach out if you have any other questions and let's keep in touch as we both sneak up on a final solution.
post #15 of 33
In looking further, I don't have IR input on my MRF-260's. I would have to swap to an older MRF-300 or the newer MRF-350 to get IR input I think. Are you sure that you have an MRF-250 or is it a MRF-300?
post #16 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by ekkoville View Post
BG56, I've been reading with great interest as I have the same setup as a poster above, MX900 and MRF260.
Keep in mind that the MRF-260 does not have the input connector that the MRF-250 and MRF-350 have. I don't think this will work with the MRF-260. However, I would like to be proven wrong.

Edit: You beat me to it.
post #17 of 33
Thread Starter 
steely / ekkoville,

As it has been years since the install and there are no markings on my base station to indicate what model it is, I've been going from descriptions in manuals I found online. In looking at the manual for the MRF-300, it matches the device I have physically. It definitely has IR IN as that's how I connected the IP2IR into my home theater system (and is working very well so far).

Sorry for the misleading info.

Thanks
post #18 of 33
Thanks for this bg56. I just did the install with my MRF-350. I wasn't sure what the wiring was so reading your post helped. Then as I was doing the install I found out that the terminal block unplugs from the MRF-350 unit and the pin out labeling is then visible. I was glad to find this out since my MRF-350 is mounted to the top of my media closet and wiring it was much easier this way. Hope this helps someone.
post #19 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Noxid View Post

Thanks for this bg56. I just did the install with my MRF-350. I wasn't sure what the wiring was so reading your post helped. Then as I was doing the install I found out that the terminal block unplugs from the MRF-350 unit and the pin out labeling is then visible. I was glad to find this out since my MRF-350 is mounted to the top of my media closet and wiring it was much easier this way. Hope this helps someone.

That's great to know. Have you tested it yet? I would have to swap my 260's for the 350 to do this but it may be my only option. I don't want to go to a touchscreen full time in every spot, particularly where the wife knows how the button layout is.
post #20 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by ekkoville View Post

That's great to know. Have you tested it yet? I would have to swap my 260's for the 350 to do this but it may be my only option. I don't want to go to a touchscreen full time in every spot, particularly where the wife knows how the button layout is.

Yes and it works great. I'm still using my mx-908 as the primary remote. I'm mainly using the iTach IP2IR so if the kids need me to put in the password so they can watch a show I can do it from wherever I am.
post #21 of 33
Global Cache makes a wifi to IR receiver so why even use another receiver....Yea you are going IP to Ir then inputting that into an existing "ir blocck" so to speak but you may as well just get anIr to IR receiver and be done with it...

I am interested in the IR rule control as it would be nice to have an Ipad as a remote but I am big URC guy and what I would really like to see is an application from URC for the stupid Ipad since this is the way the industry semsm to be going and every other high end control system has an Ipad app....

Im not an apply guy and the I pad is not a remote control but the industry is slowly making us "decide" the ipad is going to be an automation controler since its cheeper then anything else out there... If there is an app for the I pad that is truly customizable in the way say an MX3000 is, then I would problably jump on it myself. From what I see these apps are not 100% customizable. I havent fooled around with Irule long enough to really see it being that cool....
post #22 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vic C View Post

Global Cache makes a wifi to IR receiver so why even use another receiver....Yea you are going IP to Ir then inputting that into an existing "ir blocck" so to speak but you may as well just get anIr to IR receiver and be done with it...

Not sure what you mean. I do RF to my MRF-350 from my MX-980. With the iTach I can also do ip to my MRF-350. The only IR is from the MRF-350 to the IR devices. It's working great.
post #23 of 33
The msc 400 base station also has the ir input at the back of the unit. I'm thinking this should work as well. Though, I do have ir routing on all 10 devices currently connected to it. Am I supposed to to remove the ir routing and have ir flash to all inputs instead?

Also, im confused about the emitters. do I need to attach emitters from the GC unit or will it simply "passthrough" the signal from the itach to the mrf-350 ir in (which has all the devices on emitters connected to the mrf-350)?
post #24 of 33
Great thread. Is it safe to assume that this would work with a GLOBAL CACHE GC-100-6 box? That is, if I connect the GC-100-6 to my network switch via ethernet cable, and use a 35mm wire from the GC-100-6's IR output to the MRF-350's input, could I then distribute IR to my components (via the iRule program) using the IR emitter output jacks on the MRF-350?

Like many of you, this is ideal for me since I already have IR distribution to my components through the MRF-350. I'd prefer to keep all that in place, if possible and just put the Global Cache unit inline so I have IP control of everything.
post #25 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott-C View Post

Great thread. Is it safe to assume that this would work with a GLOBAL CACHE GC-100-6 box? That is, if I connect the GC-100-6 to my network switch via ethernet cable, and use a 35mm wire from the GC-100-6's IR output to the MRF-350's input, could I then distribute IR to my components (via the iRule program) using the IR emitter output jacks on the MRF-350?

Like many of you, this is ideal for me since I already have IR distribution to my components through the MRF-350. I'd prefer to keep all that in place, if possible and just put the Global Cache unit inline so I have IP control of everything.

Yes, it should work. You will lose IR port mapping since the IR input will be distributed to all ports on the 350.
post #26 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by bryansj View Post

Yes, it should work. You will lose IR port mapping since the IR input will be distributed to all ports on the 350.

Excellent news, overall. I can live without port mapping; every IR signal can always be sent to every one of the MRF-350's ports (it can be configured that way in the Universal Remote Control software).

This may be the news I needed to move towards an iRule home control environment.

Thanks!
post #27 of 33
Those of you that have tried this, are you using a stereo mini cable and going from 3.5mm to 3.5mm jack? Or have you stripped the cable and used the Phoenix style connector. I just received the MRF-350 this week and want to try this today. I have a stereo mini adapter and I'm not sure if I need a mono cable.
post #28 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by ekkoville View Post

Those of you that have tried this, are you using a stereo mini cable and going from 3.5mm to 3.5mm jack? Or have you stripped the cable and used the Phoenix style connector. I just received the MRF-350 this week and want to try this today. I have a stereo mini adapter and I'm not sure if I need a mono cable.

I'm using the stereo mini jack.
post #29 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony A. View Post

The msc 400 base station also has the ir input at the back of the unit. I'm thinking this should work as well. Though, I do have ir routing on all 10 devices currently connected to it. Am I supposed to to remove the ir routing and have ir flash to all inputs instead?

Also, im confused about the emitters. do I need to attach emitters from the GC unit or will it simply "passthrough" the signal from the itach to the mrf-350 ir in (which has all the devices on emitters connected to the mrf-350)?

Anthony, Interested if you have been able to get this to work with the MFC-400? This would solve many of my issues if it does.
post #30 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott-C View Post

Great thread. Is it safe to assume that this would work with a GLOBAL CACHE GC-100-6 box? That is, if I connect the GC-100-6 to my network switch via ethernet cable, and use a 35mm wire from the GC-100-6's IR output to the MRF-350's input, could I then distribute IR to my components (via the iRule program) using the IR emitter output jacks on the MRF-350?

Like many of you, this is ideal for me since I already have IR distribution to my components through the MRF-350. I'd prefer to keep all that in place, if possible and just put the Global Cache unit inline so I have IP control of everything.

Just following up on this. Since posing this question, I learned that Global Cache sells an iTach to Xantech distribution block cable (GC-CGX). Is this required to link an iTach to the MRF-350 IR distribution box from Universal Remote Control, or would a standard 3.5mm IR emitter wire suffice to connect the two? I'm concerned about frying one of the units if I don't use the correct cable.

Thanks,

Scott
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