iRule and Global Cache for Universal Remote Control

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poseidonsvoice

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iRule and Global Cache for Universal Remote Control
« on: 20 Sep 2013, 02:44 am »
One of the challenges I had and some of you have been privy to indulge your patience with; is the fact that I have NO 'Line of Sight' in my audio/theater room rendering IR remotes absolutely useless (regardless of how pretty they look!). I knew I would have to face this problem head on and as my theater room is nearly done (I just have to mount the projector), I needed to come with a solution rather soon.

We all know the usual options. Crestron, AMX, Control 4,etc...are extremely expensive (think $2K-$3K or more), may require an AV installer, licensing, etc... There were also other options, like Logitech whose universal remotes have garnered some praise but a lot of criticism as well, primarily due to the delay in sending/receiving the remote codes, along with inflexibility. I happened to run into one company however, called Think Flood, that made a product called, Red Eye. The Red Eye is a small Linux server communicating with your wifi based router while also having the capability for a 360 degree infrared blaster. Your remote then became your iPad or iPhone with fully definable icons, macros, etc.... "Wonderful", I thought. Then ThinkFlood, the company that makes the RedEye, went caput in March 2013.

I searched the forums and I found, iRule. iRule has now become the defacto standard for universal remote controls for diy enthusiasts. Paired with Global Cache, a company that builds gateways, such as the WF2IR or iTach FLEX, you could easily design the universal remote of your dreams and send those commands to your Global Cache unit (which can communicate with your router via WIFI or be directly connected via ethernet) and in turn would emit IR commands or RS232 commands to your AV devices.  You can control literally any number of AV devices, just by adding more Global Cache units while using the IR blaster, which sends commands in a hemisphere and has a range of up to 40 feet, or using up to 3 IR emitters, which sends commands to individual AV devices, and has a range of only a few inches. The IR emitters can be used separately or simultaneously with the IR blaster leading to even more options.

Most of the IR codes for many popular hifi units, including my Sherbourn PT7030 AV processor and Oppo 95 are available online or in their respective manuals, in a format called HEX/Pronto. My balanced Bent TAP-X, sadly, is not one of those 'popular' hifi units. I searched long and hard, but there were no published IR codes for the Bent unit in ANY format suitable for infrared use. What to do? Thankfully, the Global Cache gateways I mentioned earlier, do have integrated IR learners, even though that feature is a bit cumbersome to use. The WF2IR unit, which I own, has the learning 'eye' in the same area where the reset switch is, and as such, sometimes these codes are not learned properly. The iTach FLEX unit, which I do not own, has a completely separate learning eye for this and is far more accurate, as there are no physical obstructions that impede the IR transmission. After some frustration, I mailed the Bent remote directly to Global Cache in Oregon. Their customer service was beyond reproach and they e-mailed me all 13 codes for the 13 button Bent TAP-X remote. I converted these codes into the popular HEX/Pronto format and forwarded this in a separate e-mail to John Chapman. Should you wish to have these codes, and are an owner of his 13 button remote, please contact him. It is amazing how long a code is in HEX format for a simple command like 'Volume UP' or 'Power', etc... really is!!!

I can now listen to music in complete darkness with the iPad mini in my hand to adjust volume, mute, input selection, etc...and the commands work instantaneously  :thumb:. There is absolutely no delay. If you are fed up with having multiple remotes and want to design your own universal remote, or even multiple remotes on your iPad, iPhone, or Android compatible device, I see no other option than a Global Cache gateway hardware combined with iRule as the software. All your remotes you design are saved in a 'cloud' and all you need is a Gmail account. The cost? The Global Cache units run about $100, and fit in the palm of your hand. The iRule software has 2 versions, an intro version and pro version. The Pro version is $100 and is strongly recommended if you have multiple panels for different remote configurations, need 2 way communication, etc... It is what I use.

I hope this is of some use for you all...and if you are coming to RMAF, I will bring my iPad mini and you can see what my remote(s) look like.

See this video for an intro tutorial: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yaMZWTYwLxk

Best,
 
Anand
« Last Edit: 20 Sep 2013, 10:20 am by poseidonsvoice »

brj

Re: iRule and Global Cache for Universal Remote Control
« Reply #1 on: 24 Sep 2013, 05:28 pm »
Very nice, Anand - thanks for posting!

As much as I love the phone/tablet concept for media manipulation, I confess that I'm still a fan of hard buttons for the simplest, most common commands like volume and mute.  As a result, I've only ever looked at IR repeater type setups when in this situation previously, ala the rather clean looking Sewell wall-plate mounted receiver unit or the more old-school BlastIR version.  It's been a while since I've had to deal with such a situation, however, and I've personally used neither of these products.

That said, I do like the flexibility your new solution provides.  Thanks for going to the effort to summarize all your research!

(RedEye was a company that I'd watched for a while. I was disappointed to see them fold.)

poseidonsvoice

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Re: iRule and Global Cache for Universal Remote Control
« Reply #2 on: 25 Sep 2013, 12:42 am »
brj,

Thanks for posting. Compared to what is usually reviewed here, I realized soon that reviewing a 'remote' on a site that is primarily 2 channel focused was well...lame! In any case, just like getting used to a digital based server versus popping cd's in their trays, the concept of having a hard buttoned remote was easy for me to overcome. In addition my room has become quite custom and using IR repeaters would have been a shame given the technology of a completely wireless universal remote is available now and it is only getting better and better. I say give it a try as the cost of this convenience is small compared to what we usually spend as audiophiles.


Best,
Anand.