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RS-232 Remote for my system...help please?

Discussion in 'Home Cinema Control & Remote Controls' started by Mr Merrick, Jun 30, 2002.

  1. Mr Merrick

    Mr Merrick
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    I am interested in buying one of those large touchscreen remote jobbies you see in fine home cinema installations...I won't go as far as to say I want it to dim my lights or operate curtains concealing a projector screen (I wish) although it would be nice to get one that can easily cope with a Denon DVD-3800, Denon 3802 Reciever, Panasonic 36" TX36PF10, Pace 'Sky Digital' decoder and possibly a Sim HT200DM projector (If and when I decide to get one). Most importantly, it has to be radio controlled (as opposed to infra-red line-of-sight). Price really isn't an issue at the moment. I just want to know what's available.
     
  2. RichardH

    RichardH
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    Surely the problem with RF is that all the devices you want to control receive IR, and won't respond to an RF signal.... or am I missing something....
     
  3. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    Yes, you are missing something.....

    These devices consist of two parts, unlike a pronto. The first is the interface or touchpanel (coming in many sizes, colours, designs) and the second is a processing unit. The RF capability is how the touchscreen talks to the processor.... The processor usually will have serial output for rs232 (or multiple serial outs actually) along with relay controls and multiple IR emitter ports.

    A programme is written which is downloaded to the processor. The idea is that when you press "button1" on the touchscreen the command "button one is being depressed" is received by the processor and it then initiates the commands attributed to that button push. When writing the programme you tell the processor "ok, if you're trying to control product x use rs232 commands out of port 1, if you're talking to product y use ir commands from this file here,,,,and send them out ir port a".

    Colour ProntoPro's RF base stations work slightly differently.

    The panels themselves can be one way communication, two way (for status feedback) wired or wireless, video enabled or not, colour or black and white.

    The main contenders for this sort of stuff are devices from Crestron and AMX. Searches on the web should through up plenty of links to these manufacturers. If you want to know who in your area can do this sort of stuff contact the distributor in this country or CEDIA UK.

    Hope this is of use.

    Gordon
     
  4. Kramer

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    The Pronto isn't really a "line of sight" remote.

    It has very powerful IR emitters which flood the area with IR.

    With mine, just being in the same room with the receiving equipment is sufficient.

    I've even hidden the remote behind the couch firing away & downwards from my HTPC (IRman receiver), & it works :D

    Very impressive.

    Now if you want your equipment in a cabinet or different room etc.., you could use an IR repeater/transmitter.

    I have a pair of pyramids (Marmitek), one receives IR, converts to RF, sends this RF to the other, which then reconverts to IR, & sends the signal to the equipment.

    Cost approx £25, & range of about 50ft, so you're not limited to an "expensive" & "hard to find" RF solution.

    Food for thought ;)
     
  5. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    Kramer,

    The Pronto is, obviously, a line of sight device. At least, line of sight to the IR receiver....You are right though that they do have multiple emmitters in them giving them a very big range! Won't work if the equipment is in the cupboard and there is no ir receiver.....

    The first IR to RF convertor (pyramid) I ever used picked up RF from localTAXI station causing the CD player drawer to open suddenly....bizzare and took a while to work out what the hell was happening...I have since then had similar sorts of problems in other installations. I can only presume that the RF frequencies used by AMX and Crestron are way outwith that of these other aftermarket devices. Don't get me wrong, they are not bad, just not reliable enough for me to recommend. I want repeatable performance. One of Russ Herschelmans golden rules...Don't sell unreliable equipment! One to remember.....I do!

    Gordon
     
  6. Kramer

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    Understandable.

    I was just pointing out some other avenues worthy of investigation.

    Given a small budget, I think a Pronto, IRman & a pair of pyramids could fit the bill.

    Good discussion though, hopefully useful to the original poster - that's what it's all about ;)
     
  7. Mr Merrick

    Mr Merrick
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    More than I bargained for, but you certainly taught me a few things;) thanks guys. I was thinking in the range of over £150 but if it does what I want and it's worth the money, I'll pay it no questions asked. Thanks again.
     
  8. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    That's the thing no--one understands about dealers...Working once is good. Not working once is a disaster.

    The first time I thought it failed I thought myself unlucky, Second time I made sure there wasn't a third.....


    Mr Merrick. Add a zero to your figure and you are still about £1000 away from the basic Crestron or AMX touchscreen system. For £1000 you may find someone who will provide and programme a colour Pronto with RF base station...but I'd really think it'll cost more.

    Gordon
     
  9. dood

    dood
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    I have programmed my pronto to go through a series of sources in the morning ie start with light classical music until I've woken up, then news and then VH1. This is for my bedroom but operating equipment in my TV room (multiroom setup). I used to leave the Pronto in the TV room but found that all commands were not always obeyed - therefore the comment about the Pronto just having to be in the room doesn't always apply. However, I then decided to use an IR repeater (similar to the Pyramid) and now keep the Pronto in the bedroom. This is much more reliable!
     
  10. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    Pronto is a wonderful device. I use them all the time. Instead of a wireless ir repeater though I use a wired one. Either Xantech or, if it's going to be used in conjunction with tv control, an ir repeater that uses the aerial cable in the house as a transmission medium.

    I don't doubt all of youhave good, rf relay systems. I just find a wired solution is more robust. We all agree that a Pronto can't be beaten for value for money!:)

    Gordon
     
  11. johnr2000

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    I have used a Philips Prontos in audio visual installations. These installations sometimes use an extra unit that I make which is triggered by a set of IR codes via the pronto equipment and generates both any required RS 232 and DC switching signals. The whole kit can therefore control almost anything and provides a much lower cost alternative to an AMX or Crestron system.

    John Ramsbottom
    Sonic Services
     
  12. GrahamMG

    GrahamMG
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    We also use Pronto Pro's a fair bit (the latest ones are much improved), always with the RF repeater module as this gives reliable operation (line of sight unecessary), I also build small relay units that can receive the Pronto signal (IR via RF carrier) to operate the relays in either pulsed or latching mode. Of course the next stage up is the iPronto which uses wifi 802.11b to communicate with its optional receiver module (no line of sight again), which has proved utterly reliable. As Gordon mentions neither of these options are cheap (at least £1500 by the time you have sorted all the kit/programmed the thing and additional items). However it is far less than a AMX or Crestron which has a similar size colour screen and functionality (oh and they ain't DIY programmable really), I worked out a cost of one AMX panel to do the same as an iPronto and it was £4k by the time I had added up all the bits. It did look lovely but it isn't for the faint hearted...... Oviously a better long term investment but........I don't actually believe people need these traditional high end products now for the vast majority of applications, they do however come into their own in large whole house installs (that will cost well over £10k just for the controls, £20-30k is not uncommon...)....
     
  13. dood

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    One of the biggest pitfalls of the pronto is that it has no way of knowing the status of your equipment, ie on/off, what input etc. For devices that do not have discrete codes, this needs some clever programming and unnecessary IR emmissions. Even if a device has discrete codes, the pronto has to still be programmed to emit eg an "on" code if the device is already on because it does not know that the device is on. This means that many macros are unnecessarily long and it takes a while to get the response you want. I'm not sure if the iPronto addresses these issues.

    Devices like the Niles intellicontrol are wired and "remember" previous instructions to your devices, therefore only emit the signals necessary for a particular macro to do its thing.

    Why is it that the Niles is not mentioned here, I think it fits in nicely between the "entry level" Pronto setups and the "high end" Crestons and AMXs.
     

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