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  1. #1
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    IR Blasting test results

    I received the IR emitter cable today. Thank you!

    The emitter (as you may know) is enclosed in a small cube (one axis longer than the others). The cube comes with a small piece of double-stick tape on one long side.

    The instructions say to stick the emitter directly on top of the IR sensor in your equipment. I did some investigating and found that this is not the most efficient method of transmitting the signal.

    I used a camcorder to be able to see the IR light (CCDs have a decent response in the infrared.) I quickly saw that the most light is emitted out the end of the cube, i.e. the smaller surface, opposite the cable entry surface. The side of the cube with the tape emitted far less light.

    A better method might be to mount the emitter such that the smaller "end surface" of the cube faced the emitter. This might be done with a small plastic bracket.

    I also did a few empirical tests to check receiver response from various surfaces. I measured the distance from the receiver which the emitter could be placed to be able to receive a fairly reliable signal (this was not rigorous testing!):

    1) "End surface", opposite the cable (the surface with the smallest area): about 6 ft.

    2) Larger "side surface" without the tape: about 2 ft.

    3) Larger "side surface" with the tape: 1 ft.

    4) Either smaller "side surface" about 2 ft.

    The best response is achieved with the emitter "pointing" at the receiver. The worst response is through the surface with the tape.

    IR Blaster Plugin results:

    Equipment used:
    SB2 with IR Blaster/cable and Felix's test plugin
    Slim Remote
    Onkyo TX-860 Tuner/Amplifier

    I grabbed a few Onkyo remote configuration files from lirc.org. I did not find an exact match to my remote, but most codes were the same and I found the timing numbers given in the header are not critical. The conf files on LIRC are automatically generated; I expect the one/zero timing is actually the same for most of the Onkyo remotes and there is just added precision in the calculations which makes the numbers appear different from remote to remote.

    I tested the two features which Felix implemented in the plugin:

    1) Power on/off
    2) Volume up/down

    Both work just fine with the IR blaster. Felix has coded the SB2 volume to go to 100% as soon as either Volume up or down is pressed with the plugin active. That way, the IR blaster will control only the volume of the other device (amplifier in this case) and the Slim Remote will not be trying to control the SB2 volume simultaneously. In a later version it might be nice to have this as an option in the interface. (This version of the plugin is just for basic testing.)

    The power on the SB2 and the device being controlled _do_ operate simultaneously. They could get out of sync, though, with one device turning on and the other turning off. Again, an option would be nice to not control the SB2 power.

    Also in a later version, it would be nice to be able to map the features to other keys on the slim remote. For example, the "turn on/off power on the amplifier" command could be mapped to the Slim remote's sleep button or any other button which was not used. (Here's where I would like to see a few "programmable/unused" buttons added to the Slim remote.)

    As Dean said in another post, this plugin from Felix is a great start. I'll add that it worked right away! Great job to everyone (firmware and plugin code)!

    Next tests will be with remote codes for Panasonic DVD, Samsung VCR and maybe Magnavox TV. I know these are not audio devices; I just want to check response from various manufacturers.

    Regards, Dave

  2. #2
    Senior Member GoCubs's Avatar
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    My IR blaster results

    I also just received my IR blaster. (Thanks Slim Devices!) Here are my results:

    1.) As previously discussed, I had to change my skin in order to see the plugin. It then appears as a server setting. Wouldn't it make more sense to have the settings configurable at the player level?

    2.) I could not find an exact match for my Denon 4802R. However, in looking at the hex codes provided in RC-897 and comparing them with the IR codes provided on the Denon website, they seem to match.

    Unfortunately RC-897 did not work. I know the emitter is functioning properly (the slim remote config file emitts properly). Upon further investigation I noticed that the RC-897 file has the following comment:

    # CAUTION!
    # This config file only works with lircd > 0.6.5 because of a new config
    # directive 'toggle_mask'.
    #

    In looking at Felix's plugin code, it does not seem to utilize the toggle_mask setting. None of the .conf's included with the plugin use this setting. I'm not sure what this setting does, but it's probably needed for the new Denon AVR receiver remotes.

    When I have time I'll try some remote codes for other devices I have. It's good to finally see a good use for the "geek port"!

    Greg

  3. #3
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    Followup on test results

    I just tried the emitter with three more devices with mixed results. I expect the results are simply because I could not find compatible remote configuration files:

    1) Samsung VCR
    Success on both of them, with Power on/off. I found a conf file on LIRC for a very similar remote to the one I have. [It's actually annoying; either remote will work either Samsung unit. Fortunately, we only use these now for the kids' videos.]

    2) Panasonic DVD
    Could not find a compatible remote conf file. Tried what I thought would be the closest match, but no success. Will check the Pany website, but don't expect much.

    3) Magnavox TV
    I'm almost embarrassed to say we have a Magnavox TV. No luck here, either. It's not surprising there were very few conf files for Magnavox on LIRC.

    Dave

  4. #4
    Slim Devices Developer fcm4711's Avatar
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    IR Blasting test results

    First of all - thanks for the reports.

    Greg:
    I don't know (yet) what this parameter does, but from the name I had the impression, it should work without using it. Anyone knows what this parameter does?

    Dave:
    Panasonic: I found some panasonic .conf files containing the line 'min_repeat 0' which would prevent the current version v0.8 of my plugin from sending anything. If the .conf file you used contains this line could you either remove it or change it to 'min_repeat 1' and try again. I will add a check in my plugin to make sure 'min_repeat' is set at least to 1.

    Magnavox: From the four remotes on LIRC three are of type RC5/6 which is a different format and not supported yet (as of v0.8). But I am working on it.

    Felix

  5. #5
    Slim Devices Developer fcm4711's Avatar
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    IR Blasting test results

    Hi all

    Just posted the lastest version (1.1) of the plugin:

    www (dot) gwendesign (dot) com/slimserver/dev_hard_and_software.htm#irblaster

    Added features:
    - Web interface per client (SB2s only)
    - Entered data stored in slimserver.pref
    - Support for 'TOGGLE_MASK'
    - Preparation for RC5 remotes *)

    *) Needs upcoming firmware (version > 19)

    Enjoy
    Felix

  6. #6
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    Re: IR Blasting test results

    Felix/Sean,

    Am I right in thinking that the need for the timer delays are to avoid the "blast" overlapping the original IR signal and hence
    corrupting the signal received by the target receiver?

    I managed to get a simple test to work without the delays by shielding the target equipment from the slim remote so that it only
    sees the blasted signal. Assuming this is the case, it may make sense to make the delay variable based on the users configuration
    as it seems much more responsive without the delays and also some people press the button for longer than others.

    [also using a timer to avoid the select statement as this blocks the server - see patch]

    Adrian

    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "fcm4711" <fcm4711.1v0b5n (AT) no-mx (DOT) forums.slimdevices.com>
    To: <developers (AT) lists (DOT) slimdevices.com>
    Sent: Wednesday, September 07, 2005 9:52 PM
    Subject: [Developers] Re: IR Blasting test results


    >
    > Hi all
    >
    > Just posted the lastest version (1.1) of the plugin:
    >
    > www (dot) gwendesign (dot)
    > com/slimserver/dev_hard_and_software.htm#irblaster
    >
    > Added features:
    > - Web interface per client (SB2s only)
    > - Entered data stored in slimserver.pref
    > - Support for 'TOGGLE_MASK'
    > - Preparation for RC5 remotes *)
    >
    > *) Needs upcoming firmware (version > 19)
    >
    > Enjoy
    > Felix
    >
    >
    > --
    > fcm4711
    >

  7. #7
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    IR blaster can control receiver power independent of SB2 power

    Felix, your new plugin version is working fine (Test buttons as well) on my WinXP box. Thank you!

    I had some problems at first, because of my prefs file, I think, but that is straightened out now. [I had modified your original plugin to save the remote selections to the prefs file. (I used another of your plugins as a reference for how to do this and I see that the method has changed since then.) The result was an embarrassing mess, but it actually worked, by some miracle. Your way is much neater.]

    For anyone who cares, I currently use Felix's plugin to control the volume up/down on my receiver, but I don't use the plugin exactly as intended to control the power. I like to keep my SB2 powered on all the time to have RSS news feeds when I'm not listening to music. I want to be able to control my receiver's power independently of the SB2's power, using the IR blaster feature.

    I do this by changing the function of the remote's Sleep button to become a "receiver-power-only" function as follows in a Custom.map file:

    [common]
    # Use sleep.hold to control receiver power through IR blaster
    sleep = dead
    sleep.single = sleep
    sleep.hold = power_on

    [off]
    # Button functions that apply to "off" mode only
    sleep = dead
    sleep.single = sleep
    sleep.hold = power_on

    This does not quite do what I wanted. I could not get the "sleep" function to continue to work (sleep.single does not activate the sleep function as I intended.) But the mapping above does allow the receiver to power up/down while keeping the SB2 powered up and not _accidentally_ activating the sleep function. (The SB2 is not toggled on/off; it is toggled on/on...or just plain on all the time.) Very wordy...I hope this makes sense.

    The Power button on the SB2 remote does continue to toggle power to both SB2 and receiver, through the "normal" IR blaster function.

    So I have the IR blaster power function being activated two different ways. There is probably a more concise way to do this.

    The plugin could be modified to allow this--and other customizations--as well. For example, I map a .hold to another button on the remote and have that blast out to the receiver the IR code to select the "tape1" input (my SB2 is connected to that input.) This would require the left column in the plug-in's web interface to be customizable and not fixed to power on/off, volume up/down.

    Finally, Adrian (Triode) mentioned the delay between pressing a button and the IR blaster sending a code. I noticed this as well. It certainly seems to be much longer than necessary; a knob to play with the value would be nice.

    - Dave

  8. #8
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave D
    I like to keep my SB2 powered on all the time to have RSS news feeds when I'm not listening to music.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dave D
    There is probably a more concise way to do this.
    Why not just set the RSS News ticker as your "screensaver to use when powered off"?

    Chris

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by cbemoore
    Why not just set the RSS News ticker as your "screensaver to use when powered off"?
    I originally had RSS feeds playing with the music. But it was a pain to find the remote to get to the Now Playing display when I wanted that info. So I made Now Playing the default for playing, and RSS as the default for idle. The AutoDisplay plugin takes care of turning off the SB2 for me overnight. I just don't bother with the Power any more (much*).

    *I also installed the SuperDateTime screensaver to get the local temperature, "feels like" temp, and humidity when powering off. (But now that also powers ON the receiver when I use the power button to power the SB2 OFF to see the temperature display.)

    In our house, the action of turning ON the SB2 while at the same time turning ON the receiver is prone to getting out of sync. For example, I might see that my wife has had the receiver turned ON for playing DVDs for the kids. The SB2 might be OFF. So I need separate control of the receiver (or SB2) power. The Custom.map file gives me that control without grabbing two remotes.

  10. #10
    Slim Devices Developer fcm4711's Avatar
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    IR Blasting test results

    Hi Adrian, hi Dave

    Yes, Adrian, that was the idea behind the delay before sending out the IR command. However I realize there are situations where this isn't needed because the receiver is hidden or something. Anyway I'll add a delay selector for the next version to play with.

    Adrian: I tried your patch to get rid of the select() statement, but unfortunately if an IR code needs to be sent out more than one time it is only sent once (with your patch applied). I.E. IRBlastSendCallback() is only called once.

    Dave: I turn my receiver on by directly selecting the source (i.e. tape) and turn it off via power. This helps keeping them in synch.

    Felix

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