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Discussion Starter · #1 ·



Welcome to the Official iMasterControl thread on AVS Forum!

iMasterControl The universal remote control app for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad

Introduction

iMasterControl GC and iMasterControl PadGC are the latest versions of our universal remote control/home automation app for Apple mobile devices (iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad). The GC and PadGC versions communicate with modestly-priced Global Caché control units (GC-100 and iTach). These devices use IR, RS232 serial, and/or relays to control your equipment. You get functionality similar to an AMX or Crestron home automation system for a tiny fraction of the price and with no custom programming required! iMasterControl GC/PadGC are fully-customizable, by means of our easy-to-use GC Customizer program, which runs on your computer (Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, or Linux).

About this Thread


This thread includes support information and feature announcements. It is a place for our users to share their experiences and tips. And a place for our users to make suggestions!

Mobile Apps


App Store - iMasterControl GC (for iPhone and iPod touch)

App Store - iMasterControl PadGC (for iPad)

External Links

iMasterControl Web Site
iMasterControl Support
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·



New Kid on the Block?


Not really. We started with our high-end universal remote control product, iMasterControl Pro, which has been available in the iTunes App Store for nearly a year-and-a-half (since June 2009). We followed that with a corresponding iPad version, iMasterControl PadPro, which made its debut in June 2010.


iMasterControl Pro/PadPro are designed for use with AMX and Crestron automation controllers, which are quite expensive. Nevertheless, our Pro/PadPro products have been very popular and are highly rated in the App Store.


With iMasterControl GC and iMasterControl PadGC, we have extended our product range to support the modestly-priced line of control units made by Global Caché. There are several well-established competitors in this lower price range, but we believe we have something special to offer. In particular, we held back introducing our Global Caché products until we could provide a much higher level of functionality than any other product.


Here is a partial list of the features that set iMasterControl apart:
  • Bi-directional support for DirecTV satellite receivers and DVRs via RS232 serial ports on Global Caché units.
  • Bi-directional support for TiVo (Series3 and later) via a direct IP-network connection.
  • The bi-directional DirecTV and TiVo support displays the channel number that is currently tuned. This can be customized to also display call letters and channel descriptions for your local lineup.
  • Support for relays (also called "contact closure" ports). Relays can be closed, opened, or pulsed (for a user-configured number of milliseconds).
  • An exclusive type of dynamically-generated "number macro" simplifies the configuration of support for "favorite channels". Customizable numeric keypads also automatically generate "number macros".
  • Philips-style "alternating" IR protocols (such as RC5 and RC6) are fully supported.

In addition, the iMasterControl GC/PadGC mobile apps themselves contain a massive built-in IR device-control library that supports over 4000 models of consumer electronics devices. The pre-installed IR control files do not need to be downloaded, but you can also create your own downloadable device control files by using our DeviceControlEditor (a desktop application that runs on Mac, Windows, and Linux).


iMasterControl GC and PadGC also have comprehensive support for "macros" at every level — from scene activation down to the individual buttons on control-button panels. Your macros can send multiple commands to any combination of devices supported via IR, relays, RS232, and/or IP.
 

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This is a great app William, I've got a couple of zones running from an Integra 50.2 with the iPhone app. I have an Apple TV working, but I'd like to be able to cut free from the tyranny of a large screen. Any chance of launching apps like Apple Remote from within iMasterControl?


I'm keen too to free up a port on the iTach by controlling the Integra with network protocols. I see TiVO via IP is in the codebase, but not many other network appliances. Are you planning on supporting that stuff yet?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by ErnieII /forum/post/19406900


Any chance of launching apps like Apple Remote from within iMasterControl?

You are in luck. In our lab, we have implemented an enhancement that lets you configure buttons that launch other apps such as Remote — provide that the other app has defined a "custom URL scheme" for that purpose. Apple's own apps, and many third-party apps, do support launching by means of custom URLs.


This support will be in the next update to our products, which will hit the App Store in about two weeks, Apple willing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ErnieII /forum/post/19406900


I see TiVO via IP is in the codebase, but not many other network appliances. Are you planning on supporting that stuff yet?

Not very many audio/video devices support direct control via IP, but more are coming out all the time. We will be adding an area to our Web site that will let you download user-submitted device control files — for IP control, as well as the more traditional IR and RS232. We have already collected a number of such files.


In the case of IP control, we expect to have control for receivers by Denon, Onkyo/Integra, and Sony — possibly others. We also, in our lab, have been working on IP control for a Sony Blu-ray changer and TiVo satellite DVRs/receivers.


Some of those devices require IP control by means of non-persistent HTTP transactions. HTTP control is not in the current products, but it will be in the next update, version 1.2, due in about two weeks.


Bill
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by andyd2k /forum/post/19422466


I'm not exactly sure how this works. How does it send signals to other devices?

In most cases you need a "signal converter" box made by Global Caché. These boxes receive the wireless network signals from the iPhone/iPod/iPad and convert those signals to the kind of signal that controls your audio/video system (and also drapes, lights, and other equipment).


The most common type of signal produced by the Global Caché "control unit" box is IR the kind of signal produced by the vast majority of hand-held remote controls. For more advanced configurations, some Global Caché models can also use wired connections (RS232 serial commands and relay "contact closures") to control some of your equipment. (Some a/v receivers, TV sets, projectors, and other high-end devices have RS232 ports. Drapes, lights, screens, and lifts are often controlled by relays.)


Global Caché makes two product lines, the GC-100 and the newer iTach series. Both product lines have several models with various assortments of IR blaster/emitter ports, RS232, and relays. The GC-100 models use an Ethernet connection to your home network; the iTach models come in both wireless (Wi-Fi) and wired (Ethernet) versions.


A small number of newer audio/video devices have Ethernet ports and can be controlled directly by iMasterControl GC/PadGC, without the need for a Global Caché box. One example is the high-definition TiVo models, Series3 and later. Other examples include some very recent a/v receivers from Denon, Onkyo, and Sony. More such devices are being released all the time it is becoming clear that direct control over an IP network is the "trend of the future".


There are other iPhone/iPod/iPad apps, similar to ours, that also support IR control by means of Global Caché boxes. You might want to look at iRule and at Bobby Universal Remote. Also look at the high-end of the Pronto, Harmony, and URC product lines. Their high-end models all offer a "base station", similar to a Global Caché box, that converts Wi-Fi signals from their touchscreen remotes into the IR signals that control your equipment.


Bill
 

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Hi Bill,

I have read this thread and searched your website to see if your app can do what I hope it can do. A few questions...


I have a Global Cache, Insteon PLM connected to a ISY99 (with a Cat5 cable), and house full of insteon devices. I want to use your app to control the insteon devices, a PS3, Sony Receiver, Plasma TV, etc. I have experience with IR codes but wonder how easy/hard it will be to use your app for insteon control. Do you have information on how I can that? Would I need to disconnect the PLM from the ISY and connect the PLM to the serial port of the GC instead? Or can i somehow use the ISY with your app?

TIA...

Sean
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by windrockwater /forum/post/19434290


Would I need to disconnect the PLM from the ISY and connect the PLM to the serial port of the GC instead? Or can i somehow use the ISY with your app?

I was not familiar with the ISY99, so I took at look at the write-up on the "Universal Devices" Web site. The ISY99 is a UPnP device. UPnP is a specialized variant of the HTTP/HTTPS protocol, which is not currently supported by iMasterControl GC/PadGC. That is due to the transient nature of HTTP/HTTPS — a new, short duration connection is used for each transaction (command).


We have added comprehensive support to iMasterControl for control via HTTP/HTTPS, and this support is in Version 1.2, which is due to be available in less than two weeks. We have tested this support extensively with a Sony BDP-CX7000ES, which is also a UPnP device.


We designed the HTTP/HTTPS support to be especially easy to configure for UPnP devices, which use a rather verbose XML "body" for each command. We did this by permitting an XML "prolog" and "epilog" to be configured globally, so that only the much smaller "payload" needs to be configured for each command. This support is in Version 1.2 of our DeviceControlEditor, which will be posted on our Web site when iMasterControl GC/PadGC 1.2 are available in the iTunes App Store.


Meanwhile, or as a backup plan, it should also be possible to control your Insteon devices by connecting the PLM directly to a serial port on your Global Caché unit (as you suggested). That approach has the potential advantage of reducing the complexity of your installation. On the other hand, if your Global Caché unit is a GC-100 (as opposed to an iTach), it does not support concurrent control by multiple "active" remotes. This may give the ISY99 an edge, since the transient nature of HTTP/HTTPS essentially eliminates the "concurrency issue".


Note that in either case, using the ISY99 or your Global Caché, your Insteon device control will be one-way at this time (no "status" feedback). We are considering adding future support for two-way control of selected lighting systems.


Bill
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by wmccain /forum/post/19428836


In most cases you need a "signal converter" box made by Global Caché. These boxes receive the wireless network signals from the iPhone/iPod/iPad and convert those signals to the kind of signal that controls your audio/video system (and also drapes, lights, and other equipment).


The most common type of signal produced by the Global Caché "control unit" box is IR the kind of signal produced by the vast majority of hand-held remote controls. For more advanced configurations, some Global Caché models can also use wired connections (RS232 serial commands and relay "contact closures") to control some of your equipment. (Some a/v receivers, TV sets, projectors, and other high-end devices have RS232 ports. Drapes, lights, screens, and lifts are often controlled by relays.)


Global Caché makes two product lines, the GC-100 and the newer iTach series. Both product lines have several models with various assortments of IR blaster/emitter ports, RS232, and relays. The GC-100 models use an Ethernet connection to your home network; the iTach models come in both wireless (Wi-Fi) and wired (Ethernet) versions.


A small number of newer audio/video devices have Ethernet ports and can be controlled directly by iMasterControl GC/PadGC, without the need for a Global Caché box. One example is the high-definition TiVo models, Series3 and later. Other examples include some very recent a/v receivers from Denon, Onkyo, and Sony. More such devices are being released all the time it is becoming clear that direct control over an IP network is the "trend of the future".


There are other iPhone/iPod/iPad apps, similar to ours, that also support IR control by means of Global Caché boxes. You might want to look at iRule and at Bobby Universal Remote. Also look at the high-end of the Pronto, Harmony, and URC product lines. Their high-end models all offer a "base station", similar to a Global Caché box, that converts Wi-Fi signals from their touchscreen remotes into the IR signals that control your equipment.


Bill

Ok thanks for all the info!! Looks like I'll be spending some time soon on this
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Early this morning, we submitted Version 1.2 of iMasterControl GC and iMasterControl PadGC to Apple for review. Their review normally takes a week or less, so the updates should be in the App Store soon.


This is a "dynamite" update. Here is the "executive summary" of the new features:
  1. You can now configure the IR repeat count.
  2. You can now configure buttons that launch other iOS apps.
  3. Other iOS apps can now launch iMasterControl GC/PadGC.
  4. You can now configure buttons that display Web pages within iMasterControl GC/PadGC.
  5. Support was added for devices that can be controlled by HTTP-based protocols.


Bill
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Here is more detail about the new features in Version 1.2:


1. You can now configure the IR repeat count, on a per-device level. This mainly affects macros (including "number macros"), the mute button, and source-selection buttons. With control-panel buttons that are not configured as macros, the IR signal continues as long as the button is pressed. The new configurable repeat count can also be overridden on a per-macro-step basis.


2. You can now configure buttons that launch other iOS apps. This is useful for launching apps like Apple's Remote directly from iMasterControl GC/PadGC. This can be handy for controlling AppleTV and iTunes.


3. Other iOS apps can now launch iMasterControl GC/PadGC. Our apps now define their own "custom URL" schemes.


4. You can now configure buttons that display Web pages, without leaving iMasterControl GC/PadGC. This is useful (for example) for displaying the Now Playing list on a TiVo DVR.


5. Extensive support was added for devices that can be controlled by HTTP-based protocols. Examples of such devices include Denon receivers, a Sony receiver, a Sony Blu-ray changer, and DirecTV receivers/DVRs. This includes support for both GET and POST methods.


Competitive products do not support POST-method protocols, which are required for DLNA-based control protocols (such as Sony uses). We made it easy to configure the verbose XML bodies of POST-method requests common "prolog" and "epilog" strings can be configured just once and used whenever required. This reduces most "bodies" to just a small "payload".


Bill
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Here is a money-saving tip exclusively for AVS forum members. When Version 1.2 (of iMasterControl GC and iMasterControl PadGC) is approved by Apple and posted in the iTunes App Store, the price will increase by $10. But if you buy Version 1.1 now, you will get the product and all future updates for today's price!


Bill
 

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Is there some kind of bundle that will give both the iPad and iPhone/Touch app?


Can't you just run the iPhone/Touch version on the iPad?


Anyway to try the app before shelling out $70?


Thanks...
 

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Is there a way to upload a set of commands for a device or do you need to key each one in?


I set one command up to see if I could model t, but it came out Greek to me...


Command for Pioneer TV in RS232:

02h**AMTS0003h


plist file:

MDJoKipBTVRTMDAwM2g=
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by RhodyAVphile /forum/post/19465594


Is there some kind of bundle that will give both the iPad and iPhone/Touch app?

No, Apple does not provide any way to discount a combination of multiple products.

Quote:
Can't you just run the iPhone/Touch version on the iPad?

Yes, you can. However, the iPhone/iPod version runs on the iPad as an iPhone/iPod app. which does not take full advantage of the larger screen size. But it can be run in "2X" mode.

Quote:
Anyway to try the app before shelling out $70?

We sell an inexpensive "iMasterControl Lite", which is a non-customizable version of "iMasterControl Pro". It has a built-in demo that shows off the same user interface as the "GC" versions.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by RhodyAVphile /forum/post/19465829


Is there a way to upload a set of commands for a device or do you need to key each one in?

You can use drag 'n' drop or cut-and-paste to copy the commands from some other "data source". But this is still done "one command at a time". We would like to introduce a "bulk copy" method, but we are hampered by the lack of any "standard" for the "copy source". Perhaps you have a suggestion?

Quote:
I set one command up to see if I could model t, but it came out Greek to me...


Command for Pioneer TV in RS232:

02h**AMTS0003h


plist file:

MDJoKipBTVRTMDAwM2g=

What you are seeing here is the fact that byte-oriented data in Apple's "plist" schema is required to be coded in "base64" notation. The actual "device data" in the plist is in the byte-oriented data format for several reasons:
  • All IR devices, and many RS232 serial devices, are controlled by a "pure binary" data stream, which consists entirely of codes that are not printable characters. DirecTV receivers and Sony Blu-ray changers are just two examples of RS232 serial devices that require strings of non-printable binary command codes.
  • A byte-oriented data stream is what is actually sent to the device (as opposed to character data, which nowadays is maintained as 16-bit Unicode characters).


Bill
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Version 1.2 of iMasterControl GC and iMasterControl PadGC have been approved by Apple and are now available in the iTunes App Store.


This update was approved a bit faster than we had expected, so, as a special favor for AVS Forum members, we will hold off the price increase until midnight Sunday night (12:01 am Monday 11/15/10). But at the end of the coming weekend, the price will go up by $10!


Also, we are hard-at-work on a "bulk input" enhancement to the DeviceControlEditor. This was inspired by one of the above posts from RhodyAVphile. Version 1.2a of the DeviceControlEditor is already posted on our Web site. We expect to post Version 1.2b, with a new Import command, sometime around late evening on Saturday.


Bill
Quote:
Here is the "executive summary" of the new features in Version 1.2:
  1. You can now configure the IR repeat count.
  2. You can now configure buttons that launch other iOS apps.
  3. Other iOS apps can now launch iMasterControl GC/PadGC.
  4. You can now configure buttons that display Web pages within iMasterControl GC/PadGC.
  5. Support was added for devices that can be controlled by HTTP-based protocols.
 

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I just installed a GC-100 and a pair of IP2IR iTachs on my vessel where space is tight and I share a TV receiver and BD player with various TVs around the boat due to space and power challenges. The iMasterControl GC app does a great job threading all the local and remote equipment together into a singular controlling experience. The GC-100 relays trigger my TV lift in Salon and power the satellite equipment on/off, while the IP2IRs turn on/off the remote TV screens and adjust local volume, etc. The configuration tool took a little orientation but the documentation is good and I appreciated the Customizer User Guides attempt to clearly describe concepts behind the overall solution. Many of the iWare products don't have documentation at all so this was a pleasant surprise. I had trouble capturing IR commands from a Panasonic remote and Bill was able to diagnose and resolve the issue. His response was swift and generally complete in the first reply to rectify my tangles. The new 1.2 version appears to have taken care of most of the workarounds I did and now I only have wish list items for the future. Overall I am very satisfied and would recommend this product to anyone that needs a sophisticated solution but doesn't have the time or inclination to write code.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
As I promised, we have developed an enhancement to our DeviceControlEditor tool that supports "bulk input" of IR codes and RS232/IP commands. For lack of any other "standard", we have adopted the same simple user-editable XML file format used by another vendor (the one with the Web-app configuration tool). Our enhancement takes the form of a new Import XML command in the File menu.


So, any XML "device" file that you can upload into our competitor's "cloud" can now also be imported into our cross-platform desktop app. You can download our updated DeviceControlEditor here:

iMasterControl Tools


There are still a couple of further refinements that we have in mind for the bulk Import command:
  • Support for importing IR codes in the Global Caché format. At present, only the Pronto "hex code" format is supported. (The Global Caché format is simply a "decimalized" version of the Pronto format.)
  • Support for converting "IP Network" commands that are actually HTTP GET-method requests into our HTTP command format (which is different from our IP Network format due to the fact that we support POST-method requests as well as GET-method requests).

I will post again on this thread when these further enhancements to "bulk import" have been developed and are available.


Bill
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
We have further enhanced the new Import XML command in the File menu of our DeviceControlEditor. It now supports importing IR codes in the Global Caché format, in addition to the Pronto "hex code" format.


You can download the latest DeviceControlEditor here:

iMasterControl Tools


Bill
 
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