Intgrating Harmony 885 with PC using Girder

Discussion in 'Home Cinema Control & Remote Controls' started by julianmclean, Aug 9, 2005.

  1. julianmclean

    Active Member

    Jul 12, 2005
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    My new AV system is being installed in a couple of weeks, and I'm now looking at how to control it all. I'm pretty much settled on the Harmony 885 after reading reviews on here (cheers hornydragon - very helpful), but I want to incorporate by PC into the control system. I have a plan for this, but before I go out and buy the stuff, I wanted to run it past this forum so that people can use it, or more probably pick holes or suggest a better method. If you have any thoughts, please let me know...

    Basic setup:
    Panny 7 plasma
    CA Azur Receiver
    CA Azur or Pioneer DV575 DVD
    KEF 2005.2 speakers
    PC (Normal, running XP)
    Niles IR repeater system (only plasma and speakers in lounge, rest upstairs with IR repeater linked to all devices)

    The idea is this:
    - DVD, Sky+, anything else attached through receiver.
    - PC second monitor outlet connected to VGA distribution amp to directly feed second monitor, plus plasma (i.e. not going via the receiver)
    - Setup my Harmony remote to do all the usual activities (Watch Sky, watch DVD, listen to radio, etC)

    Now comes the bit I'm unsure of; my plan to integrate PC functions into the setup.

    Activities I want to include are things like "Play MP3 (Winamp)", "View Photos", Browse Web". This is what I'm thinking:
    - Setup activities on Harmony 885
    - Setup "virtual devices" on the remote - i.e. don't really exist, but one for each application I want to control, e.g. "Winamp", "Digital Image Pro", "Internet Explorer"
    - For each acticity/virtual device, manually setup the buttons to send artibtrary but unique IR codes. (At this point I have nothing apart from my Harmony setup to perform custom activities, which will send custom IR codes to no effect)
    - Buy an IR receiver for my PC (either USBUIRT, IRMAN, ZapStream, etc)
    - Put an IR flasher from the Niles repeater on this IR receiver
    - Use Girder to control the applications as follows...
    - Add a new virtual remote for each virtual device that I added to my Harmony remote (hopefully fooling it into thinking I am using different remotes for different applications (allowing me to re-use the buttons for each as they all have unique IR codes)
    - Create the mapping for each virtual remote to each application I want to control. (Sometimes this may just be to provide mouse cursor control, but depending on the program it could provide alot of functionality - e.g. Winamp, or controlling a slide show. I have a bluetooth keyboard/mouse that has enough range to deal with complex input in the lounge.)

    The end-game here is to be able to hit on of the PC activities on the Harmony. This will cause the remote to re-configure for the virtual device with unique IR codes, and send signals to the Plasma to switch to VGA input, and to Girder to start the correct application (maybe even moving it to the second screen and maximising).

    I realise the actual setup of Girder and control of the applications is going to be tricky, but it is something I can build up over time. What I want to validate is that the principle is sound, and that there are no hardware limitations that I'm not considering, e.g:

    - Can I actually customise the Harmony 885 to this level of detail?
    - Any IR incompatibilities (I understand the IR receivers I have mentioned work on "normal" IR, not IrDa)
    - Anyone got any experience using an all-in-one remote with Girder and a USB IR receiver.
    - Any incompatibilities between the IR receivers and Girder - it seems to support ZapStream by default, but can I use any USB IR remote for this setup? Any pros/cons of each?
    - ANy issues using an IR repteater/flasher with any of these IR receivers?

    Any thoughts appreciated, or advice on achieving this kind of setup.


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