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Using the iPod / iPhone / iPad as a universal remote control

Discussion in 'Remote Controls' started by jamesaevans, Mar 13, 2010.

  1. TheBlueFalcon

    TheBlueFalcon Well-Known Member

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    I have to say that I am quite excited about the possibilty of using an iPad to control my equipment. It seems like the answer I have been looking for. It's not something I can afford at the moment, but I'm very interested to hear about other people's experience.

    I was wondering how in-depth it is to create a decent interface with one of the various Apps available? Am I correct in guessing that these Apps will not allow for real time feedback from devices?
  2. bail0ut

    bail0ut Member

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    Hi Robert

    Good to see we have another follower board.

    Real time feedback aka feedback parsing can be achieved with iviewer.
    You can get very in-depth with guidesigner (the software used to program and design for iviewer) when it comes to creating a decent interface, but if you want more that just the free landscape/portrait pages it will cost you a fair bit. Well worth it though if you intend to control multiple zones inside your home.
  3. TheBlueFalcon

    TheBlueFalcon Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the info. :thumbsup:

    I bought a Philips TSU9600 a few years ago, but I never got around to doing anything with it. I was going to take the time to learn how to get the most of it, but some of it seemed quite complicated. I never did find the time to get very far with it, so not sure if it was something I would have grasped easily or not.

    One thing I didn't like about the 9600 was the screen size. I considered the TSU9800 for a short time, but it's just too expensive and I still don't know how I'll do with programming it beyond a basic config.

    It's probably early days yet, but I am hoping to find out how easy or difficult it would be to get the most out of an iPad compared to the Philips. I'm not expecting the iPad to be quite as good, but considering what else you can do with it (instead of just being a remote) I'm hoping it will be good enough.

    So any ideas how difficult it might be to program a config using real time feedback?
  4. bail0ut

    bail0ut Member

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    Well with a bit of prior crestron/amx knowledge it would be pretty straight forward. But without any the learning curve could be rather steep. The commandfusion wiki has a fair ammount of info to get started with, also there are a couple of videos by the commandfusion team that I've found very useful.

    I've no doubt that in time you'd get more out of an ipad than a pronto :)
  5. TheBlueFalcon

    TheBlueFalcon Well-Known Member

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    Thanks, I'll have a look in to it. I have no knowledge of Crestron or AMX, as I've only ever programmed Marantz and Phlips remotes using Wizz It and Pronto Edit, which is straight forward. I know it will be more in-depth than that, but the same can be said of the Pronto Professional remote. I'd have to spend some time learning whichever I go with, but at least the iPad is cheaper and can be used for other things if I give up on the idea.
  6. jamesaevans

    jamesaevans Member

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    Just came acorss this image which gives a good indication of the real size of the iPad.
    It's actually a bit smaller than I expected and looks like it could make a great remote control solution:
    [​IMG]

    I wonder who is going to be the first to get one in the UK to try out?:D

    James

    Attached Files:

  7. TheBlueFalcon

    TheBlueFalcon Well-Known Member

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    It's a 9.7" screen with a 1" border around it, making it 9.5" x 7.5 " and just 0.5" thick. I think it's pretty much perfect for a decent size remote control. I've been comparing it to the Philips TSU9800, which is around 8.8" x 5.6" x 1.25" and has a 6.4" screen. When you consider that the Philips is 3 times the price of the iPad, it makes you realise just what a bargain the iPad really is.

    It would be nice to know the correct prices for the various models in the UK. We can then put it all in to perspective.
  8. bail0ut

    bail0ut Member

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    I would love to say it will be me, but I doubt I'll get in there first.

    Here's a preview of iViewer running on the ipad -

    YouTube - Ipad iviewer app for htpc and home automation

    Not long to go until UK release...

    My iPod Touch SkyHD GUI is now finished! I'll take some pics later today...
  9. bail0ut

    bail0ut Member

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    Here is my SkyHD iViewer GUI for the iPod Touch or iPhone.

    Every button has been drawn from scratch, each with two states active/inactive (on/off) to give a feel of the button actually doing something when pressed.

    I've tested this side by side with my original Sky remote and there is hardly any noticeable latency between a button being pressed and the command executed.

    Any thoughts, suggestions or improvments please feel free to share.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]


    Work on the iPad GUI is in progress...

    bail0ut
    • Thanks Thanks x 1
  10. jamesaevans

    jamesaevans Member

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    Hi bail0ut,

    Thank you for sharing, that looks amazing and very professional, really like the way you have split the SKY remote over two screens.

    The role out of iPhones at work has been delayed until the end of May, so a bit longer to wait before I can begin experimenting.

    Look forward to seeing what you come up with for the iPad. Having seen that demo I'm also keen to get my hands on the iPad and see if would work for me, or if I am going to stick with the smaller iPad.

    I've also seen rumors that Apple are working a iPod maxi / iPad mini which would fit somewhere between these two devices. Looks like being an interesting summer!

    Best wishes
    James
  11. ukprometheus

    ukprometheus Member

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    loverly work there fella , you gonna share your designs :lease:

    where do i send the request for my onkyo amp design :D
  12. bail0ut

    bail0ut Member

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    Thanks ukprometheus!
    I'd be happy to design an Onkyo GUI for the right price. :)

    Sorry but my GUI's will not be shared due to them being part of a bigger project of which I've invested a great deal of time, money and effort on.

    The SkyHD GUI is available as a package including an iTach, full iViewer license and complete design customization options to suit with ongoing support for additional software and hardware upgrades.

    If you are interested please PM me for further information.

    Cheers

    bail0ut
  13. ukprometheus

    ukprometheus Member

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    you go fella :D
  14. asifakhtar

    asifakhtar Member

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    Hey all. I'm over in the US at the moment and I was planning to buy a remote control for my AV system. I had intented to get a Harmony 1100 as I like the look and its cheaper in the US than in the UK. I love the Pronto but cant justify spending that much on a remote control. However, I had a idea today about buying an Ipad and using that as a remote instead, which would look great given its size and looks. My question is how practical is the Ipad as a remote? Will it boot up in seconds? Will it be able to control all my equipment or will I need to buy external add ons? Has anyone got an Ipad?
  15. mooperman

    mooperman Active Member

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    ive been giving this some thought as well, was nice to come across this thread... i found a product in the US called "redeye" with normal and mini solutions...

    mini here:

    RedEye mini converts iPhone, iPad or iPod touch into IR-beaming universal remote -- Engadget

    and the original one which was an external device so nothing plugged into your iPod here:

    RedEye turns your iPhone and iPod touch into bona fide universal remote (video) -- Engadget

    it doesnt seem to me that the tech is good enough for me to really warrant replacing my harmony one just yet but its certainly something i'll be watching closely...:thumbsup:
  16. bail0ut

    bail0ut Member

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    The ipad will make a killer remote.

    The only anoying issues I've found so far are Apple related.

    1) Not being able to turn off Slide to unlock and still have the unit sleep after 1m rather than pressing the sleep button everytime, then wake by pressing the home button.
    2) Having to wait a few seconds for it to connect to wifi after sleep.

    However there are workarounds for both of these if you choose to jailbreak your iphone/ipod/ipad then cydia has got (most) of what I need to eliminate these niggles thus making it more remote/touch panel friendly.

    Unfortunately I can't jailbreak mine just yet as it's on 3.1.3 firmware :thumbsdow
    but as soon as I can I'll report back.
  17. AppleSimon

    AppleSimon Member

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    Hi, I'm new around here but I have been planning on doing something like this for a while now.

    I'm having my bedroom re-done so I'm going to get all my AV set up properly and plan on just using the one remote via my iPhone and/or iPad when it finally arrives!

    My equipment includes -

    • Sony KDL 26S3000
    • Sharp Aquos BluRay Player
    • Xbox 360 Arcade
    • Sky+ (Will more than likely be upgraded to HD)

    I will also be getting some wireless speakers, and a router will be situated in my room.

    The next bit is the part I am stuck on. What hardware do I need?

    I've seen and read some stuff about Global Cache, but I am still a little unsure on how it works. I realise it operates over a Network, but I am not sure how the IR works. I know one end plugs into the GC box, but what happens with the other end? Do I just place that over the IR on the T.V for example and it remembers it somehow? Please could someone clear this up for me?

    Also, maybe someone could tell me any other hardware I may need for this to work?
  18. bail0ut

    bail0ut Member

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    Hey Simon

    If you get an iTach WIFI2IR that will control your tv, sky and bluray via IR emitters/blasters connected from the iTach to each piece of the equipment's IR reciever. The iTach connects to your router and you assign it either a DHCP or static local IP address. As for the controlling the 360 I don't know mate, I guess the wireless controllers are RF so in which case I doubt it's possible to substitute them with an ipod/pad. But I'm no console expert so you may need to research that yourself.

    Basically speaking with an iTach you run their software and learn each individual IR command from your various remotes into the unit and that will display them in numerical form. Then save each learned command ready for assigning to buttons in guidesigner.

    Hope this helps.

    bail0ut
  19. AppleSimon

    AppleSimon Member

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    Hi bail0ut, thanks for the reply!

    I'm not sure if I have got this right. Does each piece of equipment need an IR receiver connected to it from the iTach? I understand on the back of the iTach it has 3 ports, which you then run wire from, to the equipment, i.e. My Sony T.V?

    If you have one, and you don't mind, would you beable to show my how it's set up?
  20. bail0ut

    bail0ut Member

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    Yes each piece of equipment needs and IR bug attached to it so it can recieve commands sent from the iTach.

    I have a wifi2ir which I use for client demos so it would be possible to show you how it's setup but that depends how far you live from London? PM me if your interested.
  21. AppleSimon

    AppleSimon Member

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    I live about 2 hours from London so it's not really viable to make the journey.

    Where does the IR bug attach to on for example, my TV?

    EDIT - Would you beable to take a picture?
  22. bail0ut

    bail0ut Member

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    The IR receiver for your TV is located on the front at the bottom right hand side corner.

    see page 26 of the manual

    http://www.docs.sony.com/release/KDL32SL130.pdf
  23. AppleSimon

    AppleSimon Member

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    Ah right that's a shame. I was hoping to have as little wires as possible. Especially if the wire has to be connect from the fron, it will just look a bit ugly in my opinion. Maybe you could persuade me differently with your own experiences.
  24. bail0ut

    bail0ut Member

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    IR bugs/emitters are very small and hiding the cable is easy so you wouldn't even notice them.

    Maybe I could persuade you into hiring me to do the installation, programming and design needed :smashin:
  25. ukprometheus

    ukprometheus Member

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    am i correct in saying you can use the IR Blaster to control mutiple devices with the IR blaster attached to one of the ports on the itach, i think post people are gonna want to contol more than 3 devices anyway :)
  26. bail0ut

    bail0ut Member

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    Yes it is possible. The blaster works on IR port 3 so you could program any given codes to be output from that port. When I first tested the sky remote commands using the blaster the range was impressive. I could fire commands across the room at a distance of 2-3m!

    Also it's very easy to add multiple units should you require extra ports or serial control, or of course you could opt for the GC-100-12 but you will need and IR learner with that particular model.

    One thing I must add is that the latency is excellent, in fact it's quicker sending multiple button presses for a fav channel button than it is do them conventionally with your sky remote. :smashin:
  27. AppleSimon

    AppleSimon Member

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    Just out of curiosity bail0ut, how much do you charge for your services? PM me if you would like.

    I'm still a little curious of how well hidden the IR bug can be.
  28. TheBlueFalcon

    TheBlueFalcon Well-Known Member

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    Using IR for everything is not really taking full advantage of a touch screen remote. The whole idea of a touch screen remote is to be looking at the remote when you control your equipment, not looking at the actual equipment. In order to achieve this your equipment needs to support real time feedback via an RS232 or network interface. Making use of this control method will allow you to display the current settings/state of the equipment on the screen of the remote and monitor adjustments as you make them. Not all equipment can be controlled this way and it will be more expensive to achieve, as well as needing far more in-depth programming to set up.

    For example, if you wanted to check the volume of your Amp/Reciever and adjust it to a particular setting, you will have the current volume displayed on the screen of the remote and can then adjust up or down to get to the desired setting. Simple.

    Doing the same using IR control will mean first checking the current volume level, if you can't see your equipment you will have to press volume up or down so that you get the OSD to confirm the current volume level, then look at the remote to know where the button is to adjust up or down, then look back at your display to confirm when you get to the desired level.

    Some people will not mind the looking back and forth, but others will find it a complete pain in the rear.
  29. AppleSimon

    AppleSimon Member

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    I have a HD15 on my TV for example, can that be converted to an RS232? To gain better control like you have just outlined?
  30. TheBlueFalcon

    TheBlueFalcon Well-Known Member

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    Afraid not. That connection is for an Analogue RGB picture input. The only way you can control your TV is with IR.

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