Looking for a cheap IR remote control solution

Discussion in 'Home Entertainment Computers' started by geojay, Jan 30, 2009.

  1. geojay

    geojay
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    I'm looking for a cheap infrared remote control solution for a PC that I have in my living room, connected to my TV. I already have a Logitech Harmony remote control that I'd like to be able to use to control the media player on the the PC. The PC runs Windows XP. Ideally I'd be able to control whatever media player is running (4OD, iPlayer, iTunes or Windows Media Player). Is it a matter of just buying a USB infrared receiver? Will an IRDA dongle from eBay work or are they only for data exchange rather than remote control use? What software would I need?

    Advice will be gratefully received!

    Thanks
     
  2. Andy98765

    Andy98765
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  3. Cafe Racer

    Cafe Racer
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    Not sure about which receiver, I'd be tempted to suggest the MS one, I use them a lot.

    For controlling "other" stuff, have a look at Infrared Server Suite (IRSS) from Team Media Portal
     
  4. geojay

    geojay
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    Hi,
    do you have a link to one of those?

    Thanks
     
  5. spyder viewer

    spyder viewer
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    I am not familiar with the Logitech Harmony but if it needs installed software then the chances are that it needs a matching receiver. If it doesn't need any software then it is just treated as a "pointing device" or keyboard/mouse by the operating system. So a simple USB IR receiver should work.

    Maplin do a Media centre remote control with USB receiver for ~£20. It does all usual controls although the buttons are a little small. My Philips IR remote that came with my Blackgold tuner happily works with the same receiver.
     
  6. geojay

    geojay
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    The Logitech Harmony range are essentially universal remotes so they can mimic any remote from their database.

    My first point of confusion is whether an IrDA receiver would be suitable. I know the IrDA standard is completely different to that used by remote controls but wonder if the receivers can handle both?

    My second is how the receiver interfaces with the PC, does it need software or does the default driver handle the mapping of buttons to PC functions?

    If I use my Logitech Harmony remote, I'd need to know what remote control to mimic, does anyone have any suggestions?

    Thanks!
    Geoff
     
  7. Cafe Racer

    Cafe Racer
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    Hi, there's two main ones, both made by Philips under licence with Microsoft. There are cheapo copies made by other people, and Philips sell the Microsoft ones branded as Philips remotes. If you get one, you could teach your Harmony the Microsoft remote's commands and use it to control your PC. Personally, I would go this route as the receiver is plug and play and the remote will wake/sleep the PC natively.

    The old version of the "beanbag" receiver comes with two IR "bugs" that are meant for controlling set top boxes with MCE/VMC, but I use IRSS to control my TV with one of thee, so the TV goes off when the PC goes into standby. The old remote can "learn" TV on/off commands, and the new Vista remote has four modes - PC, TV, STB and AMP and you can use it to control loads of devices. My newer Vista remote did not come with the "bugs" or anywhere to plug them in on the receiver, but it does work with the transceiver off the old remote.

    Old Remote (called the MCE Remote):
    Microsoft Media Centre remote control and Infra red: Amazon.co.uk: Electronics & Photo

    New Remote (Vista Remote, SRM5100)
    Philips SRM 5100 - Microsoft Vista 4 In 1 Remote: Amazon.co.uk: Electronics & Photo

    Have seen them cheaper than this, but couldn't be bovvered to search around... A search on "MCE REMOTE" brings up lots of copies.

    There is a page on the philips website that shows all the variations of MCE remote, they even do one that slots in a PC Card slot for laptops...
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2009
  8. timbow

    timbow
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    Hauppage also do an MCE remote:
    Hauppauge Computer Works Online Store- Hardware

    I bought this from their UK webstore. Cost about £35, and works a treat. Much, much better than the iMon IR receiver in my case. I use it with my Logitech remote rather than the included remote.
     
  9. spyder viewer

    spyder viewer
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  10. geojay

    geojay
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    Thanks for all the suggestions but I'm still trying to get my head around this. I don't want to actually buy a remote as I plan to only use the Logitech Harmony universal remote. I just want to buy the IR receiver and use the Logitech remote to mimic another remote. However, I suspect that the IR receivers are specific to their remote, i.e. they contain mappings between the IR signals and the required Windows action. Can anyone confirm if you can use different remotes with the same IR receiver or whether a receiver is paired with a specific remote?

    Thanks,
    Geoff
     
  11. Cafe Racer

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    The MCE IR receiver is included with the MCE remote, so you HAVE to buy the remote with it. They used to be about £20, but seem to have gone up. You might find a receiver 2nd hand, but you're not going to pay much less than a new one.

    Remotes aren't paired as such, but the MCE one uses a different "format" or IR message (or something, I'm on dodgey ground, here), it's the software that interprets the commands and does something.

    Have a look for IRSS from the Team Mediaportal forums - you can use this software to remap a buttonpress on the remote to an action on the PC.

    IRSS lets you use different remotes with different receivers, I remember that, for example, you can use the Hauppage remote with the MCE receiver. There are other receivers taht are compatible with IRSS, I can't remember the names though.
     

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