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Overcoming Problems with a URC Digital R50
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Post 1 made on Tuesday December 6, 2011 at 17:51
Lurking Member
December 2011
First of all, thanks to Daniel for his stellar review of the R50. It gave me enough information to feel confident in acquiring an R50 and programming it myself. At this point, I have it "in service," replacing five remotes in my vacation home's makeshift home theater.

My rig consists of the following:
* a 40" Sony Bravia LCD TV
* a Sony Bravia Blu-Ray disc player with wired Internet connectivity as a media server
* a 2nd generation Apple TV unit (no hard disc drive) with wi-fi connectivity as a second media server, including my extensive inventory of iTunes-based music
* Dish Network satellite box through a 3rd party service vendor to my condo association
* a DLO iPod dock (hardwired to an analohg audio RCA-jack connection)
* a ZVOX Mini analog powered speaker box

Each of these devices has its own remote control, each of which is now accommodated by the URC Digital R50.

Thanks to Daniel's details, I was able to grope my way through incorporating all of the remotes into the structure of the R50. Of course, the remote handles up to 18 devices, so capacity never became an issue. However, there was one major issue in setting up the remote to the point it is now, which I consider to be an interim "rest stop" as I prepare to develop a set of macros to fully integrate the incorporated devices into a more lifestyle-driven top-level function-based screen that sits between the user and the devices on the remote.

I consider this last point necessary because there will be three classes of users
of this remote: me (an admin class of sorts), my wife (an intermediate user who has experience handling other URC remotes in our primary residence), and the casual users, who are primarily guests who use our vacation home. The macro layer will make it easier for everyone, but primarily insulate the casual user class from determining which device to select at what moment and hopelessly discombobulting the TV system.

I do have experience in programming remotes. My first universal remote was a URC-850, which I still have and use and I maintain myself via a PC amd IRC
s edotpr software. The manufacturer does not want folks like me programming their units, but the vendor who sold it to me "went rogue" and, well, now I'm proficient at structuring and restructuing the 850. I have a second URC that is programmed via the "punch 1,000 buttons" techniue employed on the R50.

My only real problem came in incorporating the ZVOX Mini speaker system. There is no device category for it. There is no set of identified IR codes for it under any of the other categories (e.g., audio, aux). So the last option is to use the "learn" feature to grab the codes from the ZVOX remote and then "copy-and-paste" the captured functions to all devices needing volume control (which is to say all devices).

Sounds simple, particularly when the ZVOX remote is a three-button unit, right? Well, it is simple, except the ZVOX seems to be extremely hinky in donating these three codes, which are volume up, volume down, and mute. One try would yield the capture of only the mute. The next might yield only one of the other two. After many, many (more than 50) attempts, I was finally able to establish a ZVOX device, learn all three codes, test them to assure they worked, and then copy/paste them to the volume control sections of the other devices. Whew. Took most of a vacation day. Ya gotta be dedicated to handle primitive technology, which certainly describes most universal remotes.

That process was not necessarily a shortcoming of the URC. They say on their embedded instructions that tapping the donor remote instead of pressing and holding it may be needed. So it was with the ZVOX. They say to use fresh batteries in the donor remote. Doing that might have contributed to my ultimate conquest also. Be advised.

There are shortcomings of the device.
(1) There is now way to move around buttons and their contents, including devices. You can delete them and add them back at your own peril. One must be resourceful here. I'll say no more.
(2) The provided icons for the favorites section are dated. There is no way to update them or the firmware, since there is no way to connect the reomote to a PC or the Internet. Hey, it's a wireless device. Help us out a little, here, URC. Maybe the next time.
(3) Adding text lables to buttons is pretty useless. The text size is small. It allows two lines of seven characters each, when it could easily accommodate three lines of ten characters. URC doesn't think about customer service much. The text tussles with the graphical icons, reducing readability to zero sometimes. A little work here by URC could make a vast improvement.

Daniel didn't like the recessed side buttons (volume section, channel section, and transport functions). He's entitled to his opinion, but I have no problems with it. The side buttons work fine.

In short, this is a capable remote if you don't mind becoming a button-monkey for more hours than you thought you could devote to this. Good luck. It's actually worth it because you get a useful result, you can retire most of your remotes forever, and you can maintain it easily when things change like devices or favorite channels.

I look forward to finishing my setup project with a set of integrating macros. Wish me luck.



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