Home IR Control

I've been hoping to replace my Powermid IR control net with something
hardwired that's more reliable in terms of RF and stray light immunity but
the price of Xantech equipment blows me away. Are they any home-brew IR
systems that people are using out there for a small, 8 room setup?
Thanks!
--
Bobby G.
Reply to
Robert Green
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Reply to
Dave Houston
They don't seem to mention a part no. for their IR receiver module. Do you think that this one will do?
38kHz Infrared (IR) Receiver Module $3.69 Catalog #: 276-640
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Thanks!
-- Bobby G.
Reply to
Robert Green
That's probably as good as any. If you have other things to buy, you can save a couple of bucks by buying the IR receivers at Mouser. Mouser has no minimum and will ship Priority Mail. I frequently use them for small orders.
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Any of the FIG I & J Vishay 36kHz or 38kHz receivers (bottom section) will do.
One limitation of the design is that it demodulates all of the received IR and transmits just the demodulated data envelope over the wires. It then assumes a 38kHz carrier when it reconstitutes it for output. I would probably use a 36kHz receiver as it will cover the most common carriers (32-40kHz).
I don't know how the high priced spreads do it but I would prefer to preserve the carrier as there are more and more devices using carriers outside the 32-40kHz range. You'll notice there are 455kHz and 33-57kHz receivers.
"Robert Green" wrote:
Reply to
Dave Houston
Much cheaper than RatShack, too. Since I posted my last message I can across two sites that advise avoiding the RS part anyway. This one:
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said:
Radio Shack 276-640 Warning: There have been reports that the signal quality these receivers produce is very unstable. YMMV. If possible use another receiver IC.
and listed a few dozen alternates including the ones you've listed.
How can I tell what frequency my remotes operate on? I have an A/C, a space heater, a video switchbox and drape controller that I am trying to unite under an Ocelot-controlled automation program. I've already had trouble teaching three of the devices to my X-10 learning remote which leads me to believe they incorporate a non-standard IR control method.
If I read you right, I would be better off using an IR receiver that cost more because it's likely to handle a larger number of devices?
-- Bobby G.
Reply to
Robert Green
Just don't think you are going to get the performance with home-brew that you will get out of a Xantech system. Their IR receivers especially the 291-80 CFL friendly ones are quite good. I have even seen them work in sunlight.
If you do want to build something the Vishay line of IR modules are the best I have worked with.
I tend to build a bunch of stuff but I wouldn't spend my time trying to replicate the plug and play ease and functionality of the $80 Xantech 291-KIT/RP. Unfortunately (as you now realize) you wasted a good bit of money on the Powermids. If you are into soldering and can figure out a circuit you might try replacing the sensors in the Powermids with Vishay units. Not wired Xantech reliability but cheap, fixes a big problem (IR noise) and requires no wire.
Reply to
Lewis Gardner
Without an oscilloscope and a photodiode, you can guess. ;)
You can build the CIR device at...
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and use the free software supplied to find the carrier frequency. I haven't tried that on anything later than W98Se so don't know whether it will work on later systems.
You can also buy USB-UIRT and capture the codes in Pronto CCF format which has become the lingua franca for IR codes. I have tried it on later systems.
You don't read me right.
If your remotes use carrier frequencies outside the most common range of 32-40kHz, the home brewed system I cited will do you no good because it can only receive and replay ~38kHz.
The CPU-XA/Ocelot/Leopard can only receive in the 32-40kHz range (they use an earlier Vishay 36kHz receiver) but can play back other carriers if you know the carrier and program it accordingly. (I don't recall the range - ask on the ADI forum - but I don't think it can do the B&O 455 kHz.)
Some A/C and other controls use codes which are too long for the ADI devices. And, as I noted earlier, there are an increasing number of devices using esoteric carrier frequencies.
Your starting point really should be to learn what carriers and codes you need to transport. The USB-UIRT is well worth its cost but you'll have to come up with your own excuse when the wife comes across it. ;)
There is software to convert from CCF to ADI's format but you'll have to chase that down on your own. I haven't kept track and am busy with other things.
BTW, if you replace the IR receiver inside the ADI devices (or build your own plug-in unit) with the TSOP1100 you can receive a much wider range of carriers *BUT* you still need to know the carrier for playback as the firmware assumes ~36kHz.
Maybe you can get Jeff Volp to experiment with the TSOP1100 as a plug-in IR receiver for ADI.
Reply to
Dave Houston
More food for thought:
"Hacking Wired Remote Control Jacks Into A/V Equipment"
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John
Reply to
johnsevinsky
With the Xantech receivers in the $60 range per piece at Worthington, it's just not an item I want to get into a budget fight over. I figure I can experiment for very low cost thanks to Mouser (thanks Dave!) and see very quickly whether homebrew fits the bill. Worthington also carries something called Imagine from Buffalo that handles IR at about 1/3 the price of Xantech. I agree that it won't be as good as Xantech, but I suspect it to be better than Powermid - and that's all I am looking to do at the moment - make them disappear from the tabletops to gain SAF.
Good. That's two votes of confidence for Vishay. They seem to be widely referenced in the net literature as well.
But Lewis, I hardly build *anything* so this looks like a good project to hone my limited electronics and soldering skills. I can't recall seeing much simpler circuitry and I have worked with 555's before. There are also lots of great sites out there with very clever ideas how to construct these devices and how to conceal the gizmos.
It probably should be another thread but I've gained a lot of SAF points by learning to conceal HA things in stuff the wife would actually *want* on a table top. This rules out precious antiques but there are any number of nice Chinese-style laquered boxes for sale on Ebay that are easily modifiable. Homebrew IR will enable me to bring the wife in on the design process. This allows her to select some new knicknack in which will be concealed the IR receiver. It's win-win.
Have to disagree on that. I think I got three sets for under $100 and that was at least 10 years ago. Once I learned how to place them (deep inside a bookcase, mostly, away from other electronics and direct light) and zoned them using appliance modules (they are only on when needed) they worked out pretty nicely. They have very low SAF, though, both for their appearance and the fact they have to be turned on via X-10 to operate. They've save countless steps from the basement or the kitchen.
Unlike many, many items in the great HA junk bin I feel the Powermids have more than earned their keep. I'd have to think hard about what the most useless HA item really is because there are plenty. GE Homeminder? CM11A? Hmmmm . . .
That may be a little beyond me unless it's literally as simple as pulling out one three-legged IR receiver package and soldering in another. What would be even better is if I could remove the IR eye from the Powermid and put it on a long stalk so I could conceal it in something artsy for high SAF.
I'm betting that the CFL resistant IR receiver is probably more of a Vishay achievement than a Xantech one - by which I mean the smarts to reject CFL is probably in the 3 pin Vishay receiver and not downstream in the Xantech circuitry. Does anyone know what IR receiver IC is in the Xantech's CFL resistant receiver? Anyone got one where they can easily read a chip number?
-- Bobby G.
Reply to
Robert Green
Well, I do have that little pen/PC oscilloscope from RatShack. IIRC, it wasn't suitable for 110VAC work, but it might be useful for this.
I think I have something from them in my Uncle's HA closet. IIRC, it's a Parallel port IR emitter/receiver. PC-IR? I'll have to look. I've got a number of W98 machines, so it shouldn't be a problem testing it.
We'll see what the junk box yields first. I suppose all I really care about is if the Ocelot can decode and emit IR from all the remotes that I use. I guess I'll have to buy one to find out.
That's why I ask these stupid questions!
So, I assume this means an Ocelot is more likely to be able to transmit a code with a carrier outside the 32-40kHz range than it would be able to recognize such a code. I assume, then, it means the code is actually programmed via numbers rather than learned in the traditional way. This is probably a good thing because I am seeking to use the Ocelot to generate IR that these oddball devices would recognize - probably in response to an IR code from the UR24A 8-in-1 remote which I know the Ocelot can read without problem.
I'm worried that I own four of them because they are unlearnable by the UR24A, even after it has had its memory erased.
Nope. We're way, way, WAY over HA budget from last year and I am still trying to justify the Ocelot. If I can clear the decks of Powermids and their appliance modules AND control the oddball IR gear via translation, then I can have my toys. The damn gas and oil prices have really cut into disposable income. The heating bill was the largest on record. :-(
I've been reading through the ADI IR forums slowly but surely. IIRC, it looks as if you can plug in a remote IR receiver which I assume means bypasses the older, internal unit in the Ocelot with a new one that might even be CFL resistant.
I think I will look at building my own plug-in unit (although I think Worthington sells one pretty cheaply) that's CFL resistant because the Ocelot will not be where it can see any remotes.
Would I be able to interface the circuitry from the
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site with the Ocelot's IR input jack or would I be better off just doing it optically via the IR net's light output into the Ocelot's sensor?
Sshh! I'm hoping he's locked in his basement shop working on the world's best X10 RF receiver. I'll go bother the guys in the ADI forum with this.
Thanks again, Dave!
-- Bobby G.
Reply to
Robert Green
"Dave Houston" wrote in message
Whoopee! In Uncle's junkbin is a
P.C. Remote from Concept UK. A white box with three LEDs connected to a DB25 male. Hmmm . . .requires Pentium 100 let's see if they are still home . . .
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Nope - nobody home. Time to check the wayback machine:
Reply to
Robert Green
Jim Stewart quit responding to my e-mail a few years ago. Of course, that might just mean that he stopped responding to *my* email - he may have looked into the history of the Stewart and Houston clans. ;)
But, the device you have will work with the software you can download from the CIR site I referenced earlier - it's the same circuit with one added photo diode. If you can't get that software to work but can get other s/w to record, you can analyze the file which is merely a memory image of the signal.
BTW, PC Remote is one more device that I introduced to this newsgroup. Commander-X was the first s/w to support it.
"Robert Green" wrote:
Reply to
Dave Houston
Probably not - I suspect its sampling rate is too low for some of the higher carriers. If so, you'll get a signal but its frequency will be that of the highest sampling rate.
With its native Vishay IR receiver it can only recognize carriers in the 32-40kHz range. It also has a limit on the maximum number of transitions it can record. Some of the Japanese A/C remotes exceed this limit.
The Ocelot learns in the same way as your CPU-XA. It can only learn what the IR receiver gives it which is a carrier-less (i.e. demodulated) data envelope. It assumes 36kHz carrier because the IR receiver is rated for 36kHz.
The TSOP1100 will respond to a wider range of carriers but it also outputs only the demodulated signal. There is no carrier info.
That might be because of the carrier or the number of transitions.
I think the plug-in is in parallel with the internal unit but, in effect, it bypasses it.
NO! NO! NO! NO! That's the problem with sites like that. By the time the smoke clears, the evidence is gone. Stick with optical isolation if you don't understand the reason for "NO! NO! NO! NO!".
Nah! I already have "the world's best X10 RF receiver." I'm working on teaching it UPB and a few other dialects.
Reply to
Dave Houston
Did you hit him with your curmudgeon cudgel? :-) ("Thwow him to the gwound, Centuwion, vewy woughly!")
It's got a home-brew CD-R that still looks intact although I am worried that it appears to have an embedded alkaline battery that's probably 8 to 10 years old. If I change it, it will void the warranty!!!! The "warranty void" sticker has to be removed to change it! (he he he - their website appears to have been up for only two months in 1998 - I doubt I'll be using the warranty!)
It's probably why my uncle bought it. He had a room full of stuff that was neatly packed with printouts from CHA and other newsgroups along with future implementation plans. He kept getting sicker but he apparently never stopped buying HA stuff even though he never got around to using it.
The best news tonight is that I found another (albeit coverless) CPU-XA from about the same era at the bottom of the box the PC-Remote was in. He was designing an automatic motion triggered videocam recording system just before he died that used the PC-Remote, the CPUXA and a very early version of HomeSeer. As far as I can tell, the stuff's never even been used and the notes indicate he ended up buying a VCR commander from X-10 to do what all of this stuff PLUS a PC was supposed to do.
Anyway, is a circa 1998 CPUXA gonna to be able to tell me if the four oddball IR devices are learnable by a more modern Ocelot? When you plug in an external IR receiver, is it just an IR photodiode or can it be a CFL resistant "smart eye?"
-- Bobby G.
Reply to
Robert Green
Since you quoted Worthington prices than you know that a complete 3 receiver 4 emitter Xantech setup would cost less than $200. By the time you bought the Powermids ($100 in 1995 = $124 in 2005) and X-10 stuff (at least $30) and figured out how to make it work the price seems to be a wash to me.
Not a "long stalk" but a piece of two conductor shielded cable would most likely work. Check the Powermids, if they use a 3 pin IR module it might be as easy as a straight replacement. Be sure to check voltages. What have you got to loose?
The Xantech 291-80 CFL friendly receivers have 2 IR modules, 4 or 5 transistors and about 15 other components in them. Not included in the parts count but included in the reasonable (to me) price is over 20 years of experience in IR repeater systems. Unless you needed a bunch of IR receivers and have lots of time on your hands I can't see the economy of DIY on this item.
Best of luck.
Reply to
Lewis Gardner
AFAIK, aside from the amount of memory, a CPU-XA and an Ocelot are more or less identical.
"Robert Green" wrote:
Reply to
Dave Houston
Back into the junk bin it goes! Someday I'll find a use for it.
Oh boy. IR Babel.
That will be fun to try to track down without the proper equipment.
I've discovered some of that the hard way. In this case, I'll optically isolate. I'm also going to use wallwarts and a UPS as John W. does to power the whole ADI lot because I've been reading lately that ground may not necessarily be ground the the RS-232 connections on the Ocelot. Since the IR design is already optically isolated, it makes sense to feed it to the CPUXA that way and keep the magic smoke contained!
Got any factory seconds you want to sell? \\
I just hope Jeff designs it so I can use all 256 X-10 codes easily from my X-10 remotes. I've become pretty used to the luxury of pushbutton access to every house/device code with this gargantuan Control-Linc Maxi. It even has a status LED that blinks whenever there's PLC activity. Shrinking all-code access to the size of a UR24A would be sweeeeeeeeeet!
-- Bobby G.
Reply to
Robert Green
That's good news! IIRC, C-MAX hasn't been updated since 2003 so I might just be in business without spending a dime. I'll probably have to update the CPUXA firmware or to use an old version of C-MAX but that's easy.
I found a whole bag full of Xantech emitters, too, so I've got plenty of stuff to play with for now. Thanks for all the pointers and info, Dave.
-- Bobby G.
Reply to
Robert Green
That's not a price that seemed obvious to me. With single emitters at $65 and all sorts of other connectors and accessories my new project comes out way higher than that. I know you're comparing the present value of the Powermids to a comparable Xantech setup, but when I jettison or rework the Powermids, I intend to end up with 8 IR I/O points.
Nah. I've moved twice since acquiring the Powermids so the time I didn't spend running cable is considerable. They are used very infrequently although I suspect that's going to change as I move toward a more centralized A/V layout. If I can modify them so that something more attractive to the wife than scratched, smoky plastic pyramids I might even just keep on using them. It all depends on whether I can talk to the various IR-capable appliances that have resisted the UR24A learning remote.
Not much. When I get my CPUXA setup and some tests done I might get to that part of the puzzle. No sense in setting up a transport layer for IR if I can't command it via the CPUXA.
Well, that changes the equation somewhat. I'm not experiencing much trouble with the Powermids these days. It may be just enough to hide them in a reconstituted Hummel figurine with enough light baffling to keep stray light out.
I'll report back on what I decide to do.
-- Bobby G.
Reply to
Robert Green
That's a fundamental misunderstanding of how the X-10 RF protocol, X-10 remotes and X-10 transceivers work.
The protocol allows for all of the codes. In fact, X-10 borrowed the NEC IR protocol which can produce 16,777,216 unique codes. (With a bit of fiddling the basic protocol can produce even more - 4,294,967,296 in toto.) X-10 only uses about 1800.
The universal remotes and the palmpads can send all of the X-10 codes although switching housecodes is not straightforward. However, even if you switch housecodes, the X-10 transceivers will ignore all but the housecode for which they are set.
I can send any X-10 RF code (including all house/unit/function codes, security, MouseRemote, *Anywhere, CR14A, etc. with my RF modified Pronto TS1000 or with an unmodified TSU-3000 or later Pronto or with almost any PDA) and a Leviton All Housecode transceiver can understand and act on the standard X-10 codes while a BX24-AHT, CM15X or my latest project (codename Rosetta) can handle those as well as all the others, plus transmissions from some wireless temperature, humidity, pressure and other sensors.
You'll need a long extension cord and a gold chain so you can wear the Control-Linc Maxi like ladies of an earlier era wore their pince nez or lorgnettes.
Reply to
Dave Houston

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