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Discussion Starter #1
Like many others on AVS, I need a wife-friendly remote system to control our home entertainment gear.

She's selectively techno-adverse in that on one hand, she hand codes php (and html and javascript) for Wordpress and custom websites, yet she can't seem to comprehend which button on a remote is the play button, and which is the pause. That is, she doesn't get the universal symbols (square is stop, single triangle to the right is play), and she doesn't want to learn.

In our last house, I had a Pronto for the family room that she was good at using. It was nice in that I could swap out gear, and quickly reprogram the remote so that everything operated as it did before so she never had any learning curve on new gear. That remote lasted a few years, until she dropped it one too many times.

In our old media room, I had a Harmony 676 running a Buffalo IR repeater system controlling all of our gear that was hidden away, including a PS3 as Blu Ray player via the Harmony PS3 interface. It was also rock-solid; however, my wife wouldn't even turn the gear on by herself, insisting that either I do it, or if I was not at home, she'd call our son into the room to start the gear. Now, turning on the gear to watch a movie was a one-button push; however, she was afraid of having to hold the remote pointed at the screen, waiting for the green light to turn off, signaling the macro was complete.

She also complained frequently to me about the struggle she had in watching a movie. "There's all these choices," she'd exclaim, "and I don't know where to go." This confused me for the longest time, as again, it was a one-button press to turn on the gear. Then one day I figured out what she meant—she was talking about DVD menus—each DVD had it's own menu, which was different from every other DVD. I've since solved the DVD menu problem by ripping all my DVDs, Blu Rays and HD-DVDs to MKV, and using Kodi to run it all. This has improved things in our new house somewhat.

I'm currently building a theater in our new house (130" 2.35 AT screen, 7.2.4 Atmos, tiered seating) with a billiard room and bar outside (tv, 5.1 sound), finishing the gear in our great room (tv, 2.1 stereo sound), and running speakers to our deck and patio. All rooms will be run from a centrally-located rack; wire is still being run/fished.

A few nights ago, I watched my wife grow frustrated trying to find the stop button on the 676 (which is currently controlling our great room), and I realized that she needs something with just a few buttons. The fewer the better. She needs a remote like the attached thumbnail. But it has to run everything. She presses the on button, and the remote sends one quick code and only one code, where a controller then runs a macro that turns everything on.

Initially, my plan was to use iRule with GlobalCache devices, with a tablet dedicated to each room running iRule. However, I realized that iRule on tablets will never work—she'll never be able to handle a device that lacks physical buttons (the dearly departed Pronto had hard buttons in addition to the touch screen).

So, now I'm thinking of jp1 limited-button remotes (like the attached thumb) with a GlobalCache GC-100-18R, using a Raspberry Pi running Girder (or I'm leaning toward rolling my own software) to do the processing.

Thoughts? Suggestions? Or should I just plow ahead as a canary in a coal mine for everyone else and report my trials and tribulations here as either a warning to others, or a path to (hopefully) glorious WAF?


tl/dr - Technophobe wife needs a Jitterbug remote system; can my convoluted plan of IR to software like girder on Raspberry Pi, interfaced to GlobalCache and back to IR and Serial work?
 

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Ha! My wife is the same way. The concept of having more than 1 input to a TV is just something she doesn't want to deal with. She still doesn't understand why universal remotes have buttons at the top that say Cbl, TV, Aux, etc., and doesn't want to understand. Also, one of our remotes is RF and controls a hidden cable box, and I get so tickled at her pointing it at the TV and pressing the buttons as hard as she can. :D
 

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My 2 cents.

First, that's NOT a JP1 remote in your picture.

While you can probably make your proposal work, it's needlessly complicated. All you need is RF/IP to eliminate the aiming issue. Let the macros run on the remote. With a good design, you can put everything she'd need on the first screen, and with a little practice, she'll have it. An Ultimate is probably the way to go.

Wife, children and grandparents have no problems using my real JP1 remotes, BTW. But it takes several programming iterations to get to that point.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the response. Yeah, I didn't look to see if that was a JP1 remote; it's just an example of how simple I need this. I've attached an actual JP1 that's just about suited to what I need.

Eliminated aiming would be a plus. I like the looks of the Harmony Ultimate. I'll have to read through the Ultimate thread to see if I can find out how well several of 'em can exist in one house in different rooms, as all of my media gear is in one centrally located rack.
 

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If you go up one model to the Simple 4, you get backlighting and a 4th device, $21 at Walmart. Very well put together. Might even work with Next Gen RF, so you really could run all activity macros on it.

I'm not sure how several Ultimates would work. Check out the Smart Control as well, very simple RF Harmony remote.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Did a whole lotta reading over the weekend. I don't think Next Gen RF is going to work in my situation. All my gear for the entire house is (will be) in a central rack, and I don't think Next Gen RF (or Logitech's RF) will reliably reach—and a single miss on a macro would be bad news for the wife, and then for me.

I really like the look of the Ultimate One, so now I'm thinking of using IR-only Ultimates around the house with and IR repeater system to a GC-100-18R, and then controlled with software on my Ubuntu server, which is already in the rack.
 

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IR repeaters are less reliable than RF because aiming is still required. All you need is any RF system and a few extra blasters.
 

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I feel your pain. My wife has a Ph.D. and has worked with live pathogenic viruses, but when it comes to a remote control, she can't seem to press a button.

The harmony smart physical remote seems to be the best bet currently, as it works with an emitter hub, but she complains it is not back-lit. I am held personally responsible for any remote control shortcomings.

 

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Discussion Starter #9
IR repeaters are less reliable than RF because aiming is still required. All you need is any RF system and a few extra blasters.
Unfortunately, two of the zones I need to control are 40+ feet + walls + floor from the rack, and I haven't found an RF system that could do that. I looked into putting an RF receiver in each zone, then wiring that back to the rack, but that's about as complex again as my initial plan.

Control the aiming issue is the biggest piece of the puzzle, which is why the plan is using a controller to send all macros, and only use remotes to send a single IR code. She's already used to pointing a remote at a screen to press any button, so at least she's trained in that respect.

I am held personally responsible for any remote control shortcomings.
Truth.

So, after a week of reading, the plan is still to use remotes to send a single IR code to a repeater system, with a controller in the rack performing the macro function. Having the controller in the rack will also allow me to use video and/or AC voltage sensors to ensure the system knows the state of gear for non serial gear.

The big choice now is what remote(s) to use. Cursor buttons, simple, and back-lit are really the only requirements. I really like the form factor of the Harmony Ultimate One; however, I don't like the charging cradle aspect. This alone makes it a no-go in the family room as wires on the coffee table will not work. The Simple 4 listed above looks good, but is starting to approach having too many buttons.

I may still use a pair of Ultimate Ones in the theater and the bar, although it may feel a bit of a waste not to use their macro function.
 

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Like many others on AVS, I need a wife-friendly remote system to control our home entertainment gear.

...

So, now I'm thinking of jp1 limited-button remotes (like the attached thumb) with a GlobalCache GC-100-18R, using a Raspberry Pi running Girder (or I'm leaning toward rolling my own software) to do the processing.

Thoughts? Suggestions? Or should I just plow ahead as a canary in a coal mine for everyone else and report my trials and tribulations here as either a warning to others, or a path to (hopefully) glorious WAF?
Hi @GreySkies
I have two Raspberry Pi units and haven't found a convenient way to manage events and actions for rs232 and IR signal control. If your comfortable with lightweight programming (scripting), you may want to look at Aurora Multimedia's WACI devices and Xantech's IR technology. It’s a step up to Global Cache line of products and a low cost alternative to AMX/Crestron devices. My motivation for using it is similar to yours, to hide blinking lights and wires for WAF and my ever growing need to control/twinker with my universe of things.

I have nothing against iRule or Global Cache combination of products, lots of people are having good success using them. For me, its all about flexibility and variety. I like writing my own HTML to control the presentation and Javascript to assemble complex logic inside the browser that can be centrally managed in the WACI for a variety of browsers and devices. I feel that I get more return through reusing graphics and soft functions over the work to assemble and compile a collection of library widgets inside a web based drop and drag interface. That feels constraining to me. If your comfortable with HTML and learning the basics AJAX constructs, you will quickly discover how web service calls can be made to WACI using API documentation that is organized and readable. I use Xantech for IR integration because they have a variety of signal interfaces and well documented. Both manufacturers use hardware built with metal casings, reliable for commercial applications and relatively affordable for personal use. Thanks to Amazon and EBAY. Both firms are located in USA and have a good reputation for customer service and support.

To use the systems, I've assembled a collection of AJAX functions for PC and Tablet web browsers to send http requests to the WACI to execute and route events and actions, retrieve and store variables (i.e on/off status, uptime, video mute status, current channel) and serve web pages.

Equipment currently connected and controlled:
AVR - Yamaha RXV-661 (IR and 12V signal control, both through 3.5mm mini-plugs. Can change volume, audio outputs, inputs, swap dsp sound fields )
STB - Motorola (IR emitter for channel control, Xantech ISM4/RCA video sensor for on/off state monitoring)
LCD - Samsung - (IR emitter and Xantech ISM4/magnetic sensor. Control to Samsung Blu-Ray also provided via hdmi anyconnect feature)

Upcomming A/V Integration Projects:
iNuke 3000 Amplifier (Web services via Raspberry PI USB driver),
HTPC (Web services via Windows Media Interface Driver)
Xbox (Web services)

Its taking a significant amount of time learning how each of the systems work, especially Javascript. But I think I have a solid framework to build on now and have plenty of unused menu space on my web pages, so I'm also looking at use cases to control lights, security and climate systems. Z-Wave integration and other protocols may follow soon.

Oh yeah, back to WAF. I am blasting IR signals via Xantech or trap via WACI using Logitech Harmony touch. It's just another input device to me.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
My motivation for using it is similar to yours, to hide blinking lights and wires for WAF and my ever growing need to control/twinker with my universe of things.
Fantastic! This is right up my alley. I've also got a Yamaha RXV-661 that's running my family room and deck. The gear for the bar and theater remains to be selected.

I'll check into the Aurora stuff—I wasn't familiar with them until your post. I see B&H carries them; prices look good as well.

I've got no problem writing code. My initial plan was writing my own program (and wanted an excuse to learn Python) to control everything, using XML to script my macros.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
URC MX-980 - Get it with a URC RF Base station and you're golden!
I like the range, but cradle kills it for the family room. It could work for the bar and the theater. Two questions on it:

1. With multiple remotes in the same house, is each remote locked to a base station? Or does each base station see all remotes?

2. Are some aspects of programming URC remotes still dealer-only (all info I find on this seems to be several years old)?
 

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I like the range, but cradle kills it for the family room. It could work for the bar and the theater. Two questions on it:

1. With multiple remotes in the same house, is each remote locked to a base station? Or does each base station see all remotes?

2. Are some aspects of programming URC remotes still dealer-only (all info I find on this seems to be several years old)?
Why would a base station kill it for the family room? Mine works great in this setup.

To answer your questions:

1) When you initially setup your system you choose which RF base stations you have. From there, you can then assign the remote to do different tasks for each base station. It's quite simple to do once you're in CCP.

2) Not sure what aspects of the programming would require a dealer. I setup my entire house using CCP by myself and never ran into any issues that would require a dealer to program them for me.
 

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How about Roomie + Harmony Smart?

I'm contemplating this setup in my theater for similar reasons. My wife is comfortable with the harmony smart remote but it's more limited thank I would like. So I'm considering putting a harmony system in the theater for her/kids to use, which will work for everything but the lights. Separately I will have a Roomie setup that will do everything.

My question is whether having both systems in the same space will cause problems? The Roomie will control everything via ip or rs232, so I'm hoping that will provide adequate feedback to Roomie so it can track what the harmony has done (what input on avr, power state of devices, etc.). Anybody tried such a belt and suspenders approach?
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Why would a base station kill it for the family room? Mine works great in this setup.
Not the base station, but the charging cradle kills it. In the family room, it has to live on the coffee table sans wires. I've pondered putting a floor outlet in under the table, but the wife isn't going for that.

I like how you can assign different tasks to different base stations. That could simplify things greatly as far as multiple remotes getting mixed up in different rooms. More reading is in store for me.

My question is whether having both systems in the same space will cause problems? The Roomie will control everything via ip or rs232, so I'm hoping that will provide adequate feedback to Roomie so it can track what the harmony has done (what input on avr, power state of devices, etc.). Anybody tried such a belt and suspenders approach?
As long as all your gear gives feedback via rs232 or IP, I don't see why that couldn't work. Or if your system incorporates voltage/video sensors like I have in the (tentative) plans, it should work.
 

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Not the base station, but the charging cradle kills it. In the family room, it has to live on the coffee table sans wires. I've pondered putting a floor outlet in under the table, but the wife isn't going for that.

I like how you can assign different tasks to different base stations. That could simplify things greatly as far as multiple remotes getting mixed up in different rooms. More reading is in store for me.
Well, the charging cradle works well for me on a table in the corner of the room. You can always charge it, put the remote out on the table in the AM, then at night put it back on the cradle. Keeps the remote charged and always know where it is.

Yep, it's a pretty intuitive remote. I would suggest it hands down vs the competition. If the charging cradle really kills it for you then you can always get a MX-780. It'll perform most of the functions the 980 will, just a smaller screen and a little bit different when programming (Instead of using IF/THEN/ELSE statements, you'll just set variables and when True it'll do something, when False it'll do something else). Your call, but personally the 980 is where it's at (especially since you can get them for about $70 more than the 780).

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I'd have no problem with charging it in another location, but that won't work for the wife. Two days ago, I had left the Harmony in the kitchen (five feet from the couch, but around a half wall). It's only job is to run a two-step macro that turns on the TV and an AV receiver in a rack 40 or so feet away via a wired IR repeater. So, she dug out the TV remote from a drawer in the coffee table and turned on the TV. No sound. My fault. I get a call in the office.

And unfortunately, the MX-780's layout is starting to get into the realm of too-many-buttons-that-look-alike. While looking at Surf Remote to check out the base stations and URC remotes, I saw the near-perfect remote for my wife (no joke), but a little bit of reading says it's not JP1 capable, so it's not going to work.


I'm still thinking the MX-980 might work in the bar and in the theater (no cradle location issues in either space).

Thanks for the good luck wish. I know I have my work cut out for me.
 
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