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View Full Version : Fluorescent light bulb freaks out Squeezebox



sokratess
2007-06-20, 13:12
Stupid me trying to save a little energy!

Recently I switched the lighting in the room where my SqueezeBox 2 sits from incandescent to compact fluorescent bulbs. Unfortunately this totally freaks out my Squeezebox when I am using the remote control.

When I press a button on the remote the SB either does nothing at all, does what it is supposed to do or (most of the time) repeats the desired command indefinitely.
Rather annoying if you want to turn up the value juuust a notch and end up running to the stereo to shut it off because the volume on the SB went straight up all the way to 100.

Has anybody of you experienced the same issue?
Is there any way to circumvent this (aside from switching back to incandescent of course)?

Mathias

ceejay
2007-06-20, 13:16
Serves you right for being half hearted about this. Listen in the dark!

Alternatively - use a wireless PDA as remote?

nicketynick
2007-06-20, 13:28
I can't wait to hear the explanation for this one.......
How close is the compact flourescent to the SB2? Could the transformer in the bulb be 'resonating' the IR signal somehow?

Mark Lanctot
2007-06-20, 13:41
It's probably that the CF is emitting enough IR to blind the sensor. Fluorescent bulbs do emit considerable IR which is kind of counterintuitive because incandescents get very hot yet have never been reported to blind an IR sensor.

But CFs emit considerable heat - try to touch one after you have it on for about an hour...

sokratess
2007-06-20, 14:57
It's probably that the CF is emitting enough IR to blind the sensor. Fluorescent bulbs do emit considerable IR which is kind of counterintuitive because incandescents get very hot yet have never been reported to blind an IR sensor.

Looks like this is indeed the problem. I found an explanation of the effect here (Warning: PDF-Link): http://www.neptunlight.com/files/IR-and-CFLs.pdf


From the document:

Why Does Interference Occur?

Compact fluorescent lamps can interact with IR receiving equipment operation when either the lamp excitation frequency or the lamp power frequency is within the carrier frequency band of the receiving equipment. Compact fluorescent lamp excitation frequencies generally range from 20 to 65 kHz, and may even approach 100 kHz. IR remote controls in the United States operate from 33 to 40 kHz and at about 56 kHz.
Thus, lamps with excitation frequencies in the range of 20 to 40 kHz are capable of interacting with IR remote controls (Figure 3). Symptoms of compact fluorescent lamp interactions include the total loss of remote control operation, random operation of volume controls, on-off switching, channel scanning, lockout of manual operation, and reduced operating range.

They are also suggesting a couple of solutions:

What Can Be Done to Reduce Interference?

End-users can do the following things:
1. Move the compact fluorescent lamp out of direct line-of-sight of the IR receiver or move it farther away from the receiver.
2. Shade the lamp.
3. Switch to another lamp model with a different frequency. (The IR interference can only occur when there is a match of the compact fluorescent lamp output IR frequency to that of the IR receiver carrier frequency passband.)
4. Switch to a compact fluorescent lamp with an excitation frequency greater than 40 kHz or use a magnetically ballasted (60 Hz) type of lamp.

Number 1 and 2 I had already employed anyway, so it looks like I either have to shop for different bulbs or go with ceejay and

Listen in the dark!
Using a PDA is not an option. My trusty Palm IIIc has retired some time ago does not sport any (non-optical) wireless capabilities anyway.

Oh well...
Damn you newfangled energy saving infrared blasting Squeezebox confusing CFLs!

MeSue
2007-06-20, 15:07
Wow, the things you can learn in here. This might explain why my TiVo remote has been acting goofy lately.

Mark Lanctot
2007-06-20, 15:59
That's very interesting - it's not the quantity of IR (which is almost certainly less than that of an incandescent bulb), it's the fact that the IR is modulated at close to IR remote carrier frequencies.

Neat. But a PITA for you, sokratess!

Out of curiosity, what's the brand name?

seanadams
2007-06-20, 16:18
The reason it does this is because of a heuristic in the firmware that deliberately interprets "garbage" IR codes as the repeat command. The reason we do this is so that if a user points the remote control away from the sensor briefly while doing a press-and-hold, it still works as a continued press and hold. Currently there is no option to disable this behavior.

Often times the IR sensor can be triggered by older lighting systems used in offices, which emit a high frequency flickering that triggers the sensor. In those cases it can be fixed by installing new ballasts. It's not so much an issue of the color of the light (its amount of IR content) so much as the frequency (several KHz) of any flickering. Eg sunlight has load of IR but won't cause a problem. This is the first I've heard of it being a problem with compact fluorescent bulbs. Out of curiosity do you have the make/model of the bulbs?

Have you checked if there is anything simple you can do to work around the issue, such as putting the SB below a shelf, moving the light, etc?

seanadams
2007-06-20, 16:21
Currently there is no option to disable this behavior.

...and by that I didn't mean to suggest that there should be. It would be much better I you can address the root cause of the problem, as it will give you more reliable/responsive IR performance overall.

tyler_durden
2007-06-20, 20:35
CF lamps are not the great devices the manufacturers claim. They don't put out the amount of light claimed, they don't last as long as claimed, and they cause radio interference and apparently IR remote control interference. They also contain mercury so disposing of them is a problem.

TD

sokratess
2007-06-21, 09:38
The reason it does this is because of a heuristic in the firmware that deliberately interprets "garbage" IR codes as the repeat command. The reason we do this is so that if a user points the remote control away from the sensor briefly while doing a press-and-hold, it still works as a continued press and hold. Currently there is no option to disable this behavior.

Often times the IR sensor can be triggered by older lighting systems used in offices, which emit a high frequency flickering that triggers the sensor. In those cases it can be fixed by installing new ballasts. It's not so much an issue of the color of the light (its amount of IR content) so much as the frequency (several KHz) of any flickering. Eg sunlight has load of IR but won't cause a problem. This is the first I've heard of it being a problem with compact fluorescent bulbs. Out of curiosity do you have the make/model of the bulbs?

Have you checked if there is anything simple you can do to work around the issue, such as putting the SB below a shelf, moving the light, etc?

Thank you for the in-depth explanation Sean. Proves once again how much you guys at Slim Devices care for us customers.
I am using 4 bulbs of the type Megaman Compact 2000 MM325 (Manufacturer Link: http://www.megaman.de/megamanenergiesparlampen/roehrenform/compact2000/index.html (German site)). AFAIK Megaman is a company based in Germany, so I don't know if they even sell their CFLs outside of Germany. Over here they have a very good reputation as a CFL manufacturer because they build bulbs that are very compact, yet powerful and they have a very short warm-up time. And apparently they sync very well with the SB Remote's frequency :-)
Unfortunately they are also a bit on the pricey side. Each of the 4 23 watt bulbs costs about 30 bucks, thats why I am reluctant to throw them out again.
I remember I used to have the same problem about a year ago when using a Philips bulb, only back then I couldn't trace the cause of the problem back to the bulb.

I noticed that the remote works fine if I shade the SB with my hand, so I guess I have to place the SB somewhere else where it is covered of come with a construction that covers it from the light.

MelonMonkey
2007-06-21, 09:49
Every fluorescent lamp puts out IR that will be received by all but the most narrow band IR receivers. What happens at the device's end depends on implementation details.

The reddish lenses found on IR products filter out specific frequency ranges and in consumer electronics are usually provided so that sunlight and most fluorescents don't cause excessive noise at the receiver module. The modules themselves are also cast with colored plastics to block out certain frequencies. You can get a ton of information (if you care) from the various Siemens, Vishay (etc) data sheets.

First suggestion is to buy a few more CF bulbs from different manufacturers and at different outputs. You will probably find one that doesn't cause a problem. In fact I'm almost sure of it.

A question for Sean or someone else at Slim... What IR receiver modules were used in the SB2 and SB3? What frequencies should the exterior lenses of the enclosures be filtering for each?

I have CF as the sole lighting source in my living room with the SB3 causing no problems at all.

I've done a lot of IR work over the past few years and tested countless IR transmitting and receiving products. Numerous (mainstream) products I've tested are completely unusable in my office test area. The SB3 works fine there.

Switching to a different remote would have no effect. The noise produced by the light source would still corrupt the signal.

Unfortunately, the protocol being used by Slim (JVC) is basically one that repeats a lengthy sequence continuously during a repeat (a similar length to the one-time/body of some other protocols that use compact repeat sequences) - fairly easy to corrupt because there's a not-insignificant amount of data to decode/match. If instead the product had used the NEC format it would be a lot easier to keep repeats going and able to throw out interference. Of course with a lot of noise being blasted at the same time it would could still be difficult to decode the initial command (but this might have alleviated Seans concern of dipping or mispointing the remote in normal conditions).

I'm also surprised I haven't noticed more people complaining about command collision with JVC DVD players. Unfortunately a number of command codes overlap on device 239 (which Slim is using). Really, a unique device number should have been selected to prevent collisions with already established products.

peterw
2007-06-21, 09:57
I'm also surprised I haven't noticed more people complaining about command collision with JVC DVD players. Unfortunately a number of command codes overlap on device 239 (which Slim is using). Really, a unique device number should have been selected to prevent collisions with already established products.

You obviously know more about this than I do, but the Squeezebox/Transporter remote does have its own codeset. Slimserver recognizes JVC DVD codes, too. You can use the Slimserver web interface to disable acting on JVC DVD IR codes if you want. More info is available in the Technical Information section of the Slimserver web page, e.g.

"The mapping files, both .ir and .map, are stored in the IR subfolder of the folder where the SlimServer software was installed. Included with the software are two .ir files: jvc_dvd.ir and Slim_Devices_Remote.ir which handle the codesets sent by the JVC DVD player (which is the codeset most commonly used by the Slim Devices player prior to the production of the Slim Devices specific remotes) and the Slim Devices specific remote respectively."

-Peter

SteveEast
2007-06-21, 10:00
CF lamps are not the great devices the manufacturers claim. They don't put out the amount of light claimed, they don't last as long as claimed, and they cause radio interference and apparently IR remote control interference. They also contain mercury so disposing of them is a problem.

TD

I agree with most of the above. I now replace 25W and 40W incandescents with 40W and 60W equivalent CFLs in order to get the same lighting effect. As to reliability, I've had no problems with the smaller bulbs, but a number of failures with the 100-150W equivalents.

Steve.

seanadams
2007-06-21, 10:15
We only used JVC codes for the first few hundred units of our very first product, SLIMP3, which initially shipped with a generic universal remote.

All remotes that say Slim Devices or Logitech on them use a 32-bit NEC codeset with our own manufacturer ID. The JVC codeset is supported not so much for legacy compatibility, as just to offer an alternative code set for use with preprogrammed remotes. It can be disabled in player settings.

TiredLegs
2007-06-21, 10:26
I had a severe problem with IR interference when I first installed CFLs. But I discovered that the problem only occurs for the first few minutes after the CFLs are turned on, then they apparently stabilize and output less IR. Now, I just make sure the lights are on for a few minutes before I turn on the SB3. No more problem. Of course, YMMV, depending on the CFLs.

MelonMonkey
2007-06-21, 10:47
All remotes that say Slim Devices or Logitech on them use a 32-bit NEC codeset with our own manufacturer ID. The JVC codeset is supported not so much for legacy compatibility, as just to offer an alternative code set for use with preprogrammed remotes. It can be disabled in player settings.

I thought I recalled Slim using the NEC protocol. But when I did some quick searches as I was writing the post, I turned up only the older JVC codes.

All is well then. All is as it should be with IR codes at least. :)

99.99% of all CFL bulbs sold here in Canada seem to be from China, so even though it's easy to find a lot of "brands" one doesn't necessarily know who's manufacturing them (or more importantly, their integrated ballasts). I still suggest experimenting with different bulbs to get around this problem. Lights with a standard base socket are easy to find for no more than $2 each here in 15, 17, 22w, etc...

MrD
2007-06-21, 10:58
CF lamps are not the great devices the manufacturers claim. They don't put out the amount of light claimed, they don't last as long as claimed, and they cause radio interference and apparently IR remote control interference. They also contain mercury so disposing of them is a problem.

TD

If it is a low budget off brand... then I would agree with the statement. Name brands fair much better. I have had CFL in some locations that have lasted 5+ years.

I would stay away from off brands: I bought a batch of off brand lights and every single one failed in 6 months.

Also make sure you buy the correct color temperature 2500-3000K for the incadescent light you are used too.

Zten
2007-06-21, 11:49
I have had a CFL (not Canadian Football League) in my Family room longer than the SB and never seen a problem. Must just be because it is under a lamp shade. CFLs are great. Everyone should cut over to them as their incandescents burn out. They last longer, consume quite a bit less enrgy and now they even have the same, comforting hues of incandescents and they turn on right away when you flick the switch. The mercury in them is mice nuts compared to the benefits.