Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Remote Magic

 I remember the first time my parents brought home a TV that had a remote control. We called the remote a "clicker" and it was attached to the TV with a long cord. Before then, our television looked like the one in this photo, and the only way I could change the channel without getting up was to make my little brother do it (sorry buddy).

 Technology has obviously come a long way. In fact, it is enabling us to store all the TV components, including the cable box, in a closed door cabinet behind the TV wall and still use the remote.
 A lot of people have asked me how we'll be able to do this. As far as I'm concerned, it will happen magically, so I'll let Chris explain...

It is called an IR repeater or extender.  Essentially we put one sensor behind the TV that acts just like the sensor that the TV has.  When you use the remote, that signal is taken from the sensor (via a cable through the wall) and back to the central unit.  That unit has extenders that essentially do the opposite of the first one on the wall and they broadcast the signal that the first IR sensor picked up and broadcast it to the AV equipment inside the cabinet.  There is also a PS3 module that receives IR signals from the remote and converts those to Bluetooth so that the PS3 can run off of the same single sensor at the TV.  The photo below shows the TV area sensor (the small black box) hidden right behind the TV.

See? Magic!
 By the way, here's what the cabinetry in our butler's pantry looks like with the inside painted black. I had originally thought I'd need to cover the glass with fabric or wallpaper, but the black paint so completely disguises the TV components that I won't have to.
 Before, with white paint.
 After, painted black with all the components inside.


Based on some questions with regard to types of IR transmitters and what I used, here are some links to the products:

The Extender Kit is The IR Extender Kit from Logitech:

This kit has everything you need to connect multiple devices to the main "receiver" point hidden near the front of your TV.   You could use all of your existing remotes with this device, it just transmits the signal through.  One comment asked if you could turn everything off at once, which would be unlikely unless you had a "learning" remote for your TV/Cable Box/Satellite that could handle all of your devices.

Because of this I chose to buy a universal remote so we have one remote for everything.  I picked the Logitech Harmony One:

I would rate the remote 3/5 stars due to a difficult setup and cheap feel.  The IR extender gets high marks, very easy to set up, 5/5 stars.  

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