Author Topic: What do you recommend for AV control  (Read 628 times)

Offline col8eral

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What do you recommend for AV control
« on: July 19, 2017, 10:34:46 am »
I would like to control my amp, dvd player, TV etc from my phone as well as integrate control using my VeraLite for use with Scenes.  I will also add Alexa or Google Home speaker at some point too so I'd like to be able to add that into the mix. 

There seem to be a few options but what do you guys recommend?

Many thanks

Offline RichardTSchaefer

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Re: What do you recommend for AV control
« Reply #1 on: July 19, 2017, 11:35:30 am »
I am working on a plugin to control the BroadLink family of IR device controllers.
The BroadLink can learn a command from your remote. You can also program a sequence of IR commands into a macro.
Each has a name.

The plugin will allow you to initiate a learned IR command or Macro via it's name.

Offline col8eral

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Re: What do you recommend for AV control
« Reply #2 on: July 19, 2017, 12:32:46 pm »
I am working on a plugin to control the BroadLink family of IR device controllers.
The BroadLink can learn a command from your remote. You can also program a sequence of IR commands into a macro.
Each has a name.

The plugin will allow you to initiate a learned IR command or Macro via it's name.

Hi Richard. I'm new to AV control. All I had heard of was harmony and iTach. Is the broadlink controller better? I was wondering why you had chosen to support that device with your plugin?  Thank you.
« Last Edit: July 19, 2017, 01:02:29 pm by col8eral »

Offline wilme2

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Re: What do you recommend for AV control
« Reply #3 on: July 19, 2017, 01:51:09 pm »
I am a big fan of iTach.  Since they have a published API, you can use any number of control methods.  For example I control both via Vera for automation and iRule for remote control.  Simple Control/Roomie Remote is another remote control software option that was originally designed around iTachs.  I am also a big fan of the iTach Control Tower IR database, making is easy for you to pull the codes you need to send...

Notes:  I do not use the GC-100 plug-in - everything from Vera is Luup sending to iTach.  iRule could be especially appealing since it has a plug-in for Vera, but the plug-in isn't very good - just good enough to have a few light buttons on my home theater remote pages...
« Last Edit: July 19, 2017, 01:57:53 pm by wilme2 »
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Offline integlikewhoa

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Re: What do you recommend for AV control
« Reply #4 on: July 19, 2017, 02:41:45 pm »
Harmony Home remote is your easiest and cheapest solution. You can buy them anywhere and work with all the items you listed out of the box.

One thing to consider on the harmony remote though is controlling the devices from vera (a scene to tell the remote to turn on/off or whatever) is no problem. Using the remote to control lights either requires an extra Home hub extender (99.00) or running a free bridge (but takes something to run it on) http://forum.micasaverde.com/index.php/topic,31920.2295.html

Offline col8eral

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Re: What do you recommend for AV control
« Reply #5 on: July 20, 2017, 06:29:07 am »
Thanks Gentlemen.  Knowledge is great but its hard to make uo my mind which way to proceed.  It seems Harmony and iTach and about the same price and Broadlink about half the price.

I don't want the price to be the deciding factor, but how well the product integrates with Z Wave and how well it works as an AV controller.  I also want to use a home speaker at some point so it would need to be compatible with that also.

A couple of smaller questions. 1. Where do you place the IR transmitter relative to the AV equipment.  My AV stuff is situated that would make it difficult to place the transmitter right i nfront of it, 2. On the Broadlink it says RF 433mhz.  Whats the RF part.  What does that do?

Many thanks

Offline wilme2

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Re: What do you recommend for AV control
« Reply #6 on: July 20, 2017, 10:21:49 am »
1. Where do you place the IR transmitter relative to the AV equipment.  My AV stuff is situated that would make it difficult to place the transmitter right i nfront of it,

You should use infared emitter cables.  Like (just for example) https://www.amazon.com/C2G-Cables-40432-Infrared-Emitter/dp/B001DF7EC8/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1500560294&sr=8-8&keywords=IR+blaster+cable.  Meaning the actual control device can go behind the AV equipment, and then you bring a cable to each device and attach the emitter to the exact spot of the infared receiver on each piece of AV gear.  You can use cables with multiple emitters if you have more devices than the number of IR emitter ports on the control device.

iTachs with IR (IP2IR, WF2IR) ship with three single emitter cables.
« Last Edit: July 20, 2017, 10:25:09 am by wilme2 »
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Offline integlikewhoa

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Re: What do you recommend for AV control
« Reply #7 on: July 20, 2017, 11:28:04 am »
I could be wrong but Harmony is the only one that comes with a remote i think. The other options you still need to find away to control local or use your cellphone as a remote.

Harmony you could use your cell as a remote also but most kits (altho you could just buy the hub) come with a remote.

Also I know Amazon Echo and Google Home Both have direct easy to use skills to have them control Harmony products. Not needed to run threw vera or other options to setup and use it.

Offline wilme2

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Re: What do you recommend for AV control
« Reply #8 on: July 20, 2017, 12:29:14 pm »
Also I know Amazon Echo and Google Home Both have direct easy to use skills to have them control Harmony products. Not needed to run threw vera or other options to setup and use it.

I have the infrastructure, I want to use it!  Actually the issue is I just don't trust Logitech.  A few years ago I bought multiple 890 Pros (with z-wave) and their Connectors/Blasters, and the associated Harmony software is just absolute crap.  I don't have words for how painful it was to program.  And the limited z-wave wasn't worth integrating.  I won't buy vendor specific again unless I have to.  Hence the iTach hardware allows me to choose my remote software across multiple vendors or write my own.  The obvious issue with that strategy is Echo voice control, but using the Echo HA bridge allows me to do that, at least as far as On/Off....
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Offline integlikewhoa

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Re: What do you recommend for AV control
« Reply #9 on: July 20, 2017, 02:28:57 pm »
I have the infrastructure, I want to use it! 

Is this for you or the OP?  My recommendation is geared towards the OP's question and what I gathered is his experience. 

Actually the issue is I just don't trust Logitech.  A few years ago I bought multiple 890 Pros (with z-wave) and their Connectors/Blasters, and the associated Harmony software is just absolute crap.  I don't have words for how painful it was to program.  And the limited z-wave wasn't worth integrating.  I won't buy vendor specific again unless I have to.  Hence the iTach hardware allows me to choose my remote software across multiple vendors or write my own.  The obvious issue with that strategy is Echo voice control, but using the Echo HA bridge allows me to do that, at least as far as On/Off....

Harmony is easy setup for a simple home audio setup. The menus are geared towards everyday user's not power users that want to control IR devices not related to A/V. Itac and others are great for versatility and do a great deal of complex things once programmed. Programming and adding delys is much more intense. If the OP has (based on what he said in his first post) a TV, reciever, DVD player you can't get much simpler.  Also I do run the Ha-Bridge but for some that means an extra device to run it on (Pi or computer), and for some that's alot of extra work. My point is merely that would not be required with a harmony setup. Its already built in to play nice with echo and google home. Also a purpose built plugin for Vera and other Home Automation platforms. It's well known and easy to use.

Maybe the OP can comment back on his skills and level of interest to setup a more involved or elaborate setup. iTach has some pro's for the advanced user but based on my reading of the OP's few post's it seems he might be better off steering down a easier road.

I also feel it might not be clear to the OP what all is involved in either direction he goes. Maybe you can tell him with the iTach what other parts of the puzzle do you need to make everything work.

iTach
Which remote software?
What Physical remote? (OP hasn't said he wants one but I'm assuming so)
What's need to make it work with Echo or Home (both hardware and software)
and anything else I'm missing.

Once you give him the list and instructions it might help him decide which route to go.

New for a Harmony home remote is around 150.00
I recently been buying Refurbished ones for spare bedrooms and happy with them.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Logitech-Harmony-Home-Companion-iPhone-Android-Smartphone-Home-Control-915000239/351932391795?ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT&_trksid=p2057872.m2749.l2649
« Last Edit: July 20, 2017, 02:30:49 pm by integlikewhoa »

Offline integlikewhoa

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Re: What do you recommend for AV control
« Reply #10 on: July 20, 2017, 02:56:50 pm »
the associated Harmony software is just absolute crap.  I don't have words for how painful it was to program.

Also new wifi/bluetooth hubs program threw a phone or tablet with the Harmony app. Old ones used to use a computer running software and usb connected to the hub. Now the app walks you threw everything step by step of connecting the hub to wifi, adding all your devices, then creating an event using the devices. You can do some minor tweeks like delays and button pushes, you can copy a remote ir buttons but its not so easy or really setup to do it. Generally you type the model of the device and select from the list if there is more then one. Trying to add some IR fan controller or other off the wall non A/V device is not easy or ideal in harmony and that's where an iTach comes in.

Harmony also has built in bluetooth so things like my Fire Tv can be controlled. Fire TV has no IR inputs unless you buy an aftermarket USB to IR input and plug it in to the fire tv. Alot of newer devices are getting away from IR or line of sight. iTach has no control for these newer devices without IR inputs. This was one of the reasons I hung up my old Harmony 1100 after I cut the cord on cable and had to mickey Ir input on a fire tv.

Offline wilme2

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Re: What do you recommend for AV control
« Reply #11 on: July 20, 2017, 03:39:05 pm »
iTach
Which remote software?
What Physical remote? (OP hasn't said he wants one but I'm assuming so)
What's need to make it work with Echo or Home (both hardware and software)
and anything else I'm missing.

I don't disagree with the content of anything you said.
  • iTach hardware - I use multiple iTachs, at around $90 per location that needs IR or serial control (one for home theater IP2SL, one for living room IP2IR, one for kitchen IP2IR, one for bedroom IP2IR).  Note that if you have recent gear that is IP controllable, you won't need any hardware at all for the software below.
  • Which remote software/physical remote? - I use iRule.  $49 standard or $99 professional for a license with up to 5 types of handsets (tablets or phone).  $49 would do it unless you want feedback available in the Pro version (which I only use in my theater with IP/serial feedback from higher end gear).  Price of handsets/physical remotes not included - use old cell phones/tablets including Fire at effective no cost IMHO.
  • What's need to make it work with Echo - It depends on this one.  If you have 24/7 windows/linux/NAS you can run the Echo HA bridge free.  Otherwise plan a Pi install.  Not expensive, some technical knowledge needed.  Recommend Docker if you have a server that can run it (Synology for me) - then it is easy and free.
  • If you choose iRule and want to put Vera controls within your iRule pages, it costs $25 per type of handset for the plug-in.

So, for a single location, I would call that $150-$250 for all of this if you have a tablet/cell phone that you want to use as a remote.  Yes, learning involved, especially how to build remote control pages in iRule - but that is done via browser and I think prepares you to do some really cool stuff later.
« Last Edit: July 20, 2017, 03:57:21 pm by wilme2 »
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Offline col8eral

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Re: What do you recommend for AV control
« Reply #12 on: July 20, 2017, 06:57:02 pm »
Thank you all so much for your replies.  This is great and certainly gives food for thought.

To answer one question, about technical competence.  I would say I'm enthusiastic where technology is involved and I will roll my sleeves up and give anything a try.  I don't have any deep coding experience but have a basic knowledge of things like PHP, HTML and CSS etc.

The things I'd like to try and achieve are:

- centralised control of AV, TV, DVD player etc
- control from an Android smart phone or tablet
- a dedicated remote would be useful for other people in the house
- the ability to include IR commands in a Vera scene
- The ability to control scenes from the IR unit would be nice but not  essential
- I would like to add Alexa or Google home speaker, but this comes later from a timing perspective
- if I have to have a bridge to achieve some of the above then no problem.  Im happy to install something on a Rpi.  Question:  where does the bridge sit?  Is it ethernet or wifi into my router or direct connect to my vera?

From some reading around I saw that my options could be iTach or Harmony, but Richard on here also mention that Broadlink could be an option for which he is building a plugin. It would be great to hear from Richard as to why he chose this device over other for which to build a plugin.  Be good to hear his insight.

Many thanks guys for all your help.  I have some thinking to do.
 
« Last Edit: July 21, 2017, 05:21:33 am by col8eral »

Offline col8eral

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Re: What do you recommend for AV control
« Reply #13 on: July 24, 2017, 07:45:58 am »
Im still not quite sure which way to go.  Would also have been nice to get Richard's view of the Broadlink units.

Offline integlikewhoa

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Re: What do you recommend for AV control
« Reply #14 on: July 24, 2017, 01:43:52 pm »
Im still not quite sure which way to go.  Would also have been nice to get Richard's view of the Broadlink units.

Broadlink is going to be very similer to the itach but cheaper. Currently there is no plugin (he's working on it) so price point this is the cheapest with the same pros and cons of itach.