Woo Hoo! 5 remotes for the stereo reduced to one!!


I have lots of bruises on my head. My wife kept clobbering me about the number of remotes and the complexity of my stereo/AV system. She needed a flowchart to watch TV and had to know which remotes to use and when. See the first picture of my system. Note I listen to music via the DS, and use the same preamp to listen to audio from the TV. It got complicated.

When Paul said he was going to make a new preamp to go along with the PWA I tried to design it in a way such that it could accept digital as well as legacy analog inputs. (Because there are many digital sources nowadays it would have been nice to have one central command point that could select all types of sources, either digital or analog, much like Sprout does for its limited feature set. I thought it would be great to make a SuperSprout where all the user does is select what they want to listen to and set the volume, just like Sprout.)

Paul turned me down flat. Didn’t think the market was there. In the meantime my head kept getting bruised.

So there are these things called Universal Remotes. Trouble is, because all commands are IR, the hand-held units must be pointed at the electronics to work correctly. And it doesn’t help when the new units’ batteries (Logitech Harmony 650) lose contact and it goes into ‘learn mode’ after even the slightest jar or drop. And the other brands must be programmed to ‘learn’ every IR command because they don’t have the database of command libraries like the Logitech does.

Then I discover the ‘hub’ remote concept. There’s a central hub (originally designed to fit within the media cabinet) that is controlled via RF remote or WiFi from a iDevice app. The hub blasts IR to the components and is controlled by either app or physical (dedicated) RF remote. Sounds good. Except that ratings have folks who like it at 76% (4 and 5 star ratings) and folks who hate it (1 & 2 star) at 16% with 8% in the middle. Things aren’t stellar. There are WiFi dropouts, difficulties in setup, app complaints, you name it.

But how bad would it be compared to my bruises? Hey, I’m a rocket scientist, I can figure it out. So I buy the thing. Logitech Harmony Smart with hub and RF remote. http://www.amazon.com/Logitech-Harmony-Control-Smartphone-Simple/dp/B00BQ5RYI4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1416072198&sr=8-1&keywords=harmony+smart

But first I download the app to the iPhone. Download the PC program. It won’t let me start to program the functions on either until I physically have the hub. I pre-map out every button for each activity.

OK, so when I physically get it, I plug it into the PC and use that to program the activities and buttons. Takes a while. Hours. But at least it has PSAudio and Audio Research gear in its library. Have to tell the system which boxes are on for each activity, which controls volume, which controls channel selection, yadda, yadda. Documentation is lacking, to put it mildly Finally get it programmed. do the first test.

Nope, preamp doesn’t turn on. The preamp is the master power control for the P10 that turns other things on. Crap. Have to manually teach the system the power on command through the iPhone app. OK, try again, power comes on. Yay! Oh, wait, the Oppo isn’t coming on (it’s turned on with the P10) Oh, and the master ‘off’ button won’t shut off all the power, either. Can’t put in a power delay in the PC turn on sequence (the PC program won’t let you change that) but re-ordering the power on sequence to turn on the preamp (and P10) before the Oppo at least gets power on the Oppo after the preamp is on. OK, that works. I thought I was being clever and put in a time delay of 50 seconds to unmute the preamp after power on (to let me know when the system had fully booted up) but that just caused problems when changing from one activity to another. So all delays came out. I was lucky in that at least all things powered up and changed to the proper inputs. But once all the time delays came out, the master ‘off’ button worked.

Then, once power was getting to the right component for each activity, I then check each button to make sure they function right (see button matrix, below) Oh, and you can program a ‘short’ button press for each as well as a ‘long’ button press, so double the checking time.

So, after many hours of setup, it actually does what it’s supposed to. Press the button to watch TV, and just the components for the satellite/TV, and audio come on. Push the ‘music’ button and the TV/satellite box shut off and the DS/Oppo come on. Movie button turns on TV and sets input to the proper HDMI input for the Oppo. Go back to TV mode and the satellite box turns on, the Oppo / DS turn off, and the TV changes input to the satellite input.

Wait. It’s working. Huh? It’s actually doing what it’s supposed to? Links up just fine to WiFi. (Well, so far, but it’s only been a day)

Long term report forthcoming, but I think my bruises can heal now . . . . .