Audio/Video Control

When you have a lot of audio/video equipment you tend to have a signficant number of remote controls, complicating matters is a desire to hide away the extensive wiring between components making infrared control somewhat problematic. There are universal remotes such as the various Logitech Harmony remotes, Phillips Pronto remotes and may others. There are also a number of add ons for phones and tables to extend IR control. In addition there has been a growing tendency for mid-range components to also include IP based control. 

When Global Caché released their iTach units - I felt like there was something that finally provided a DIY way to integrate component control. There was no included software, but third parties had started developing products to utilize iTach units. For iOS there were two options at the time, iMasterControl and iRule. I selected iMasterControl because it was easier to setup and offered local software versus web based configuration software. iRule did offer a lot more configurabilty of the interface, but was, in my opinion, harder to get started with. Unfortunately, iMasterControl was a one man shop and when Bill passed away, development stopped and the software was pulled from the Apple Store, fortuntely I've maintained an archive of it. While iMasterControl is still working on my devices, I've spent some time looking for a replacement when it inevitably stops working due to OS upgrades. I've tried TouchControl and iRule again, but Roomie is the one I've settled on for the near future.

Zones:

The house is divided into three control zones for the A/V systems. The first two are relatively straight forward, while the third is something of a multiple/single zone hybrid. I call it a hybrid because the source/distribution equipment all resides in one location, only the viewing location can be in multiple places. Following are links to individual pages with equipment lists and control diagrams for my current implementation.

CONTROL METHODS:

There are several methods I utilize for implementing control over components and they are discussed in the following paragraphs.

IP to Infrared

There are a few different manufacturers of devices that do IP to infrared control. I much prefer Global Cache's iTach line. There are quite a few different models with different capabilities, some of the types are listed below.

IP to Serial

I also prefer Global Cache's iTach line for IP to serial control. One advantage of serial control over infrared is that some devices support two way control. In other words information can be passed back to the controlling device. I primarily use these for controlling DirecTV receivers so that feedback is sent from the receiver to the remote (in this case the channel the receiver is currently tuned to). A couple of notes when using these with DirecTV receivers: 1) a serial to USB cable is required to interface with the DirecTV receiver ; 2) the IP2SL must be powered on before the receiver powers up or it won't recognize the unit 3) the baud rate on the serial unit should be set to 9600 in my experience.

Direct IP

Direct control of units that offer this can offer significant advantages over IR or SL, but also have downsides. Some components don't offer power on over IP (notably Samsung TVs), implementation of IP control by many componets can be of varying levels and robustness too.