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Looking for a WiFi 'universal remote' platform
This thread has 14 replies. Displaying all posts.
Post 1 made on Monday May 17, 2010 at 13:47
ecborgoyn
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I'm designing a home theater and home automation system. Since I'm the geeky DIY kind of guy, I'm looking for a WiFi remote control that I can hack to control the entire system. My day job is designing mobile computing devices, so I'm comfortable with the hacking, WiFi, and all of the back-end stuff to control the fixed devices.

I've looked at devices like the Logitech SqueezeBoX remote, some of the Philips devices, etc. I know about s/w for iphones/ipod-touch devices, but I think that I need some complement of h/w buttons plus a screen and soft buttons... Just some thoughts.

PLUS, the remote can't cost as much as the video display....... Should be around $300...??? Less is better.

I'm also thinking about the ipad for a 'big remote', but that's too complicated for simple kinds of controls. Need to have hard buttons.....

If the device has IR output that would help also to control devices in the room.

Any input appreciated.
Post 2 made on Monday May 17, 2010 at 15:31
vbova27
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Your not going to find any open source remotes for that price. Most wifi remotes are 2-way and most of them are either expensive or force you to use a standard.

You are MUCH better off using an ipad/netbook/mobile phone combined with a software company. I am going to be using Bitwise Controls which can do that but I belive you need to be an installation business. There are many other generic companies that sell touchpanel "blank" terminals capable of wifi, but they are more expensive.
OP | Post 3 made on Tuesday May 18, 2010 at 12:17
ecborgoyn
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Thanks for the feedback. My $300 (or so) price point is based on a PDA type device and what a WiFi remote _should_ cost..... A PDA with a few ergonomic/hardware buttons. And that you can hold and use with one hand.

I'm thinking that the ipad/ipod-touch/etc platform is GREAT for the high level RC to handle all of the details... BUT, for the channel-surfing in front of the TV in the dark I need to have real hardware buttons. Of more correctly, my wife would insist on real buttons... Plus i want ONE RC for the entire system. I know it's a grand idea... But part of the fun is the design and implementation of the whole-house control system (Lighting, A/V, HVAC, Security, etc.).

Anyway, I'm still designing and looking for a good RC platform. Any input is welcome.
Post 4 made on Sunday May 23, 2010 at 14:46
dirtyballs
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Throw us some system details and you might get some more advice. For example, how is the control device physically able to control your system? If you are determined to do things through TCP/IP, then all of your equipment would have to have Ethernet ports. This should be no problem for your AV receiver, but how about the cable box? The professional grade equipment that is often discussed here generally has a hardware interface with the gear separate from the remote. For RTI this would be your system processor, for URC it could be a simple RF to IR base station. This adds flexibility and reliability but also cost.
OP | Post 5 made on Monday May 24, 2010 at 12:32
ecborgoyn
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OK. I was trying to be vague for a reason. I don't yet have the 'system'. I'm in the design phase of my system. (I'm an electronics/computer/software engineer....).

My reason to ask the question is to gather ideas, company names, etc. So far so good, I've looked at a few of the companies mentioned on this forum.

The design concept is this: A WiFi capable 'PDA type device' with some number of hard buttons. I like the PDA model for display and touchscreen input. I know that I can get s/w for iphones and the ipod touch that will let me do RC functions. That's great and I see an ipad in the total system.

BUT, I need a 'PDA thing' in the form of wand remote. Touchscreen display PLUS some number of hard buttons. I DO NOT believe that a touchscreen only device is useful when 'flipping channels' and changing the volume. You need some tactile feedback and be able to find the proper buttons in the dark.. Not filpping through pages on a display. But for complex setup and control stuff, you need the display and probably touchsceen.

The remote will use Wifi to talk with my 'house controller' box. The backend device control (RS232, IR, etc.) is the easy part.... I'd think about the buttons on the remote sending TCP or UDP messages to the controllers. The display could be a mini-HTML browser, or something proprietary. The remote control 'programming' would be mapping buttons and touches to TCP or UDP messages.

I'm very familiar with Zigbee 802.16.4, etc. I'd prefer to stay with WiFi and not need to deploy another network in my house. But Zigbee is an option... A remote with IR could be nice to control devices in the room, but that's not the main focus.

So think about a 'platform' that I can somehow program to communicate with Wifi/IP/TCP/UDP. Don't worry about how those messages are routed to stationary equipment.

The 'house controller' will need to maintain the state of the system so that I can in turn display this state on multiple remotes.

Maybe what I'm looking for doesn't exist. But I'm still looking. I CAN prototype all of the remote capabilities with a PDA or ipod touch or something like that.

Thanks for the input.
Post 6 made on Thursday May 27, 2010 at 03:10
SOUND.SD
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I get a kick out of people wanting to kludge together some non-existent controller that will probably have less capability for a similar price just because they are smart enough to do it or maybe just too cheap.

Good luck.

If your serious you could look at Nevo. Find an old model on line and hack away. Cause your an engineer you know.

Im just being sarcastic to be funny. I admire your attempt at creativity just be careful trying to reinvent the wheel.
Bulldog AV - San Diego, CA
www.bulldog-av.com
[Link: facebook.com]
OP | Post 7 made on Thursday May 27, 2010 at 11:56
ecborgoyn
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Thanks for the pointer to Nevo...

I don't offend easily... From my perspective the designing/building/hacking/etc. is the fun part of the exercise. I just can't buy one off the shelf. It's not the cost..... I've worked in R&D and new product development roles for most of my 30+ year career so I'm aware of 'wheel invention' issues...

Thanks!!
Post 8 made on Friday June 25, 2010 at 23:04
Zellarman
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I know this doesn't meet all of your criteria, and perhaps would talke out the fun of hacking, but I'd suggest taking a look at the ThinkFlood Redeye, it's a wifi base station that utilizes a free app on an I-phone or I-pod touch
Post 9 made on Thursday July 22, 2010 at 10:20
dabrams
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I am an engineer/hacker as well.

It does not meet your price requirements but the Philips TSU9400 has hard buttons, a touch screen, WiFi and IR as well as a programming language. The tools are available to all (I started life with a TheaterMaster 750 but was beholden to my dealer for tools so I upgraded to a TSU3500 then to the TSU7000).

An iPad or wifi pad will be cheaper but not include dedicated buttons. (I just bought an Acer netpad with 1024x600 lcd, wifi, 160gig HD and 1gig ram for $200 at Target - you will go crazy if you compare that to a high end programmable remote control ).

I have been using a TSU7000 (which lacks wifi and programming language) and it been has been pretty good but it lacks two-way communication. I just picked up a TSU9400 and RFX9600 and plan to rework my system with RS232 control of the receiver (for two-way volume control communication) and wifi to the HTPC and power sensing on the stupid we-dont-believe-in-discrete-on-off-codes Samsung BluRay. The extra cost seemed worth it to me to have the dedicated buttons over an iPad solution (and I like to hack so having JavaScript available seems like an invitation to trouble ).
Post 10 made on Thursday July 22, 2010 at 19:33
jrwhite
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Well, if you 'really' wanted to be geeky....

X10 currently has a fire sale on their Icon RF remote, that has a decent backlit LCD and lots of buttons ... $29

I pulled apart a non-rf version, and it's very roomy inside. The LCD is on a ribbon cable, and the connector would be salvageable with a rework station.

http://www.x10.com/promotions/ir32a_ed_2999_0629_tag_final.html?HM


Microchip has just released a new PIC with an integrated LCD controller and USB OTG.  They also have a free graphics library available ( free IDE and C compiler too ).  ... $7.15 ...
http://www.microchip.com/wwwproducts/Devices.aspx?dDocName=en547868



Microchip also has a WiFi module and free TCP/IP stack ..  $29.40

www.microchip.com/wwwproducts/Devices.aspx


Well, you'd have to buy a programmer / debugger too ( if you don't already have one, or don't want to be 'really really' geeky and build one ) .. so you'd probably have to fork out $34.99

www.microchipdirect.com/productsearch.aspx



Add about $20 for various other electronic glue you need

And then about another $50 to spin a board using the free Lite version of Eagle PCB design software and sparkfun's BatchPCB service.  ( of course, your first spin of the board will work perfectly )

batchpcb.com/index.php/Products


So, for $175.10 ( plus shipping and taxes ) you have your dream LCD Wifi remote!  ( oh yeah, plus the 2000 hours or so of hardware debugging and firmware development - but that's what being a hacker is all about isn't it?).

If I didn't have a number of other projects on the go, I'd be tempted!

Jonathan
Post 11 made on Sunday August 22, 2010 at 22:17
scotchswan
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10
The RedEye was just recently recalled so I'd advise he stays away from this for now. I'm using a RE from NewKinetix and so far it's doing all it says on the 'tin' !
ScotchSwan
Post 12 made on Tuesday August 24, 2010 at 14:46
anyhomeneeds
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On August 22, 2010 at 22:17, scotchswan said...
The RedEye was just recently recalled so I'd advise he stays away from this for now. I'm using a RE from NewKinetix and so far it's doing all it says on the 'tin' !

scotchswan is just a salesperson trying to sell NewKinetix. The recall from RedEye doesn't affect the unit mentioned, but the RedEye Mini.

Say anything to boost sales, even half-truths, isn't that right scotchswan?
"You can't fix stupid."
Post 13 made on Friday December 3, 2010 at 09:03
RichardU
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10
I'd like to know if anything ever came from this. There are many ways to turn your iPhone into a remote control using central units like Global Cache, Bitwise, etc. I want to do exactly that, but use hard button remotes as well. It would be nice if my hard button remotes would talk directly to to the central unit via WiFi IP. If not, I guess I'll have them communicate via IR.
Post 14 made on Monday December 6, 2010 at 18:44
thejtiggidy
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December 2010
2
RedEye IS the solution. The Mini was recalled but it is not what your looking for anyway.

I have had mine for a little while now and it is about to finally retire my Pronto Pro. It can be set up for Ad-hoc or it can be on your wireless network. Your ipad communicates with it via Wifi and it works great.

The software is coming along nicely. Custom macros/activities. Can learn custom ir commands. Integrated TV Guide and more. I cant explain it all obiously and their site doesnt begin explain the capabilities... but i was impressed once I got one in my hands and started playing with it.

I expect very soon it will have the ability to use custom buttons and icons which will make it a huge sucess here at remote central. I love this things as is but with a few things I expect to see in the future it will be THE remote of all time.

Oh, one cool thing I like about the RedEye is that all configuations and settings are actually stored on the unit itself so any iPhone or iPad that connects to it has all of your Device, activity and layout stuff automatically.

Im sorry whoever.. but NewKinetix is gross. Having some hunk of crap hanging off of your phone or ipad is just uncool. I have never heard of it or seen it until now but that is a major turn off.
Post 15 made on Tuesday January 4, 2011 at 22:45
michaelpremote
Long Time Member
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36
I've had a look on the RedEye website, and from what I gather it uses one IR blaster to send the actual IR to the equipment. Do you know if they have a "blaster" that you can plug in IR emitters to? ie have the blaster inside a cabinet with the emitters going to various pieces of equipment that cannot be reached by the one "main" blaster.

Michael


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