This page last changed on May 27, 2013 by scottj97.

For home theater control, I'm looking to replace a Harmony 900 with something more reliable and more responsive. I would prefer a hard-button remote but as a DIYer there are not many good choices.

I could use a tablet with OR but it's not clear to me that OR is really intended for this application. I like the concepts of the Harmony remote (separating devices and activities) but I don't see a similar thing in OR - or am I just not seeing it? Could I make Groups serve the same purpose as activities?

If I'm on the right path, I'm willing to contribute as needed. Denon IP control, TiVo IP control for starters.

I'm not familiar enough with Harmony to understand what you're looking for when you talk about separating devices and activities.

Eric's been doing some Pronto to OR migrations recently and from what I hear his customers are happy. I'm not sure if he knows enough Harmony to answer your questions though. Think there's going to be some use case examples coming out of those Pronto migrations so maybe those will also answer your questions.

Posted by juha at May 27, 2013 23:20

For example, an activity called "Watch DVD", and you tell the Harmony setup which devices this activity uses, and which input(s) need to be selected on the TV, receiver, etc. Then it automatically sets up the equivalent of a macro to turn on all devices as appropriate, and set them all to the right inputs.

I'm okay with manually designing all such macros, but if this is one of the target markets for OR, I can't see it.

Basically what I'm looking for is to know that this type of setup has been done before and works well. I'm looking to do some fairly advanced control applications (Bluetooth hard-button remote, automatic screen masking, etc) so open source really appeals to me, but it's not clear just how much custom programming I will need to do.

Posted by scottj97 at May 27, 2013 23:39

Does Designer 2.0 - Macros fit the bill or is it something else?

Posted by juha at May 27, 2013 23:54

Sure, but can I (for instance) have a startup screen with a list of activities ("Watch TiVo", "Watch DVD", "Listen to Radio") and each button first runs a macro and then switches to an appropriate screen for control of that activity?

This seems a very common use model for a tablet remote, which is why I'm surprised I don't see any good examples.

Posted by scottj97 at May 28, 2013 00:06

IIRC you can have both navigation and macro bound to the same button. The thing I remember discussing with Eric was that the navigation effect is immediate, whereas the macro, especially an IR macro, will take some seconds to complete the scene. Especially source selections tend to be slow. So from the user's perspective as soon as they see the screen change they sort of assume that the scene is done, and start pressing other buttons which leads to more confusion. He mentioned Harmony (or maybe it was Pronto) allowing a delay to be set before the screen is changed to give the macro time to complete. This helps confuse the user less. There's no way of setting a delay on the screen change at the moment as far as I can think.

Posted by juha at May 28, 2013 00:27

On a different topic, would be interested in knowing why you're looking to migrate away from Harmony. Just curious. Would help us if we understand the reasons.

Posted by juha at May 28, 2013 00:29

Yes Harmony does show a "Please Wait" screen while running its macros.

I like the Harmony approach and the layout of the 900's hard-button remote, but it has two major problems.

First, it is sluggish. Just paging from one screen of soft buttons to the next, I find myself waiting for the remote to catch up to me. Its microcontroller is grossly underpowered. Also since it ultimately sends IR (from its base station/blaster) it is inherently slow to send a sequence of commands. Even something as simple as adjusting the volume on my receiver is frustrating because I'm always overshooting or waiting for the remote to catch up.

Second, its RF is unreliable. Most of the time when I press a button, a little antenna icon lights up on the screen. But about 5% of the time, I get a red X instead, meaning it cannot find the base station, which is 15 feet away. I live in a dense urban neighborhood so there's lots of RF it has to contend with. I need a reliable RF like Zigbee, or Bluetooth, or WiFi.

Posted by scottj97 at May 28, 2013 00:54

Also it seems like for home theater use, OR should have a library of known devices. But it doesn't seem to have any such library. I see a short list of protocols supported, but I don't think that's quite the same thing.

Posted by scottj97 at May 28, 2013 00:59

OR is very capable of doing home theatre / media room control, and I've done it several times.

The activities oriented way of organising the remote is also what is often done in Pronto and is what I reproduced in OR.
Indeed using a macro and a navigation on that activity button but as Juha mentioned, there is the issue that navigation is immediate, while the macro has not finished running and so the system is not yet ready to be used (devices are still powering up, switching sources, ...).

As far as a library of devices, it is indeed what we would like to have in the longer run but don't have yet. So you'll need to do more manual work to get there, but it's all possible.
Same goes for setting up the activities, has to be manual for now.

But when it's program, I've found it to be very robust and as your said, with a good WiFi setup, communication between remote and controller (= base station) is much more stable and robust than ad-hoc communication used in standard remote controls.

As you mention Denon, there is already support for serial control of Denon. There is also support for IP protocol of Marantz and as they're part of the same holding, it's not impossible that the protocol are the same, I would have to check the docs.

As far as hard buttons go, there are indeed ways to integrate them with OpenRemote. There's been at least 1 forum thread discussing that.

Posted by ebariaux at May 28, 2013 16:25
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