Speaking of favorite channels, Universal Remote Control has slipped in an extremely handy favorite channel macro recorder that’s almost completely buried in a nested right-click menu. This tool displays all of the macros under a specific macro group, with a place on the right to select the device and amount of delay to automatically add between each step, and a numeric keypad to punch in channel numbers. Select a pre-named channel macro, punch in the number, then move on to the next macro. It’s quick and simple – in fact the only way to improve it would be to allow the arrow keys to select a macro and the keyboard’s numeric keypad to enter numbers.
RS-232: cutting edge in 1969 and still holding its own...
As mentioned earlier, MSC-400 Editor ships with a respectable database of pre-configured RS-232 devices ranging from projectors to DVD players, however even a cursory glance shows quite a few holes in its coverage.
When a new RS-232 Connected Device is created, double-clicking on the entry shows a list of commands far different from the uneditable one presented for ordinary IR devices. On this screen new serial commands can be added (ASCII, hex or decimal), or existing ones edited.
If you need a serial-only device to be used for more than the MSC-400’s Smart Macros, it’s possible to quickly convert a Connected Device into its own Smart Macro Group. What this does is take every command associated with that device and automatically makes it a one-step macro, which can then be triggered digitally from the MX-900 as a normal device command. This technique can also be used for tricky infrared equipment that may not convert well when broadcast over RF, such as 100kHz Bang & Olufsen devices.
The MSC-400’s macro creation abilities are nearly boundless, allowing If/Else statements to be nested in other If/Else statements that are then nested in Toggles and so forth, to extremes that would confuse almost anyone. However, this isn’t the only place where MSC-400 Editor might cause users a little head scratching.
The whole method of working with device commands in MSC Editor is more than a little perplexing and perhaps not as well conceived as it could have been. When you import a device from another remote setup file it comes complete with preprogrammed and learned codes, but if you create a device from scratch in MSC Editor it can only incorporate preprogrammed codes.
The entire point of populating the Connected Devices section in the first place is to give you a base of codes to work with, as well as letting the MSC-400 know how they should be routed. But then, using the “IR Data Setting” option (which is only accessible from a small button on the Smart Macro window), the software will let you drop in random preprogrammed codes from anywhere else in Universal’s database – and then assign how they should be routed. Also located on just that screen is a “learning” option which can be used to capture various codes through an attached MSC-400 (and only the MSC-400 – it won’t work with other URC remotes that may be handier). IR codes taught this way aren’t assigned to the highlighted IR database entry, nor are they attached to a specific Connected Device’s command list. Instead they’re stored in that particular MSC-400 configuration file as a mass group.