MythTV remote suggestion

A lot of MythTV users are using lirc for their remote receivers. There are a lot of problems with lirc. For one, it doesn’t come with 2.6 drivers, and it also is limited to working with a single device on the system (or a very nasty hackish solution for multiple devices).

Here’s another option: get an infrared keyboard and a learning remote. I picked up a wireless infrared keyboard for $17 at newegg.com. This keyboard has a receiver module that plugs into PS/2 keyboard and mouse ports, and the transmitter is infrared.

Next step: get a learning remote. I picked up a One For All URC-8810 at Walmart for $20. Contrary to the documentation, almost all keys can be learned, not just L1-L4. It does have a limited memory, but it is enough to program all the keys I need.

All in all, a slick solution. Total cost: $37, and you get a useful remote and keyboard (with mouse stick) that you’d probably have wanted anyway.

11 thoughts on “MythTV remote suggestion

  1. I bought the keyboard and the TV remote because I figured you got it to work, but I have had problems getting the remote to LEARN the commands from the keyboard.

    Any tips/suggestions? I followed the directions on the remote manual, but havent had much luck.

    I am able to program it, but when i press say the UP or DOWN keys on the remote, it just keeps going as though I sent a signal to press the remote for 5 seconds. It stops scrolling after 5 seconds, but doesnt stop even if I point the remote somewhere else.

    Any ideas?

    Reply

  2. Anton,

    It sounds like you have a different model remote than I do. I have had varying degrees of success with different learning remotes — some of the more fancy ones with displays and whatnot seemed to have trouble learning commands from the keyboard and even other remotes.

    I don’t know if the URC-8810 is still sold, but if it is, you might try that and if it works, return the model you have.

    — John

    Reply

    Winston Reply:

    I bought the same keyboard but a different remote: mine is the URC-8811, which I assume is pretty similar. I had to figure out a few things about the keyboard to get this working.

    First, the learning remote seems to have a hard time learning anything from the keyboard; that is, it’s hard to get it to do the double-blink that indicates that it’s learned something. Whether or not that something is useful is another matter. (Sometimes I can get the remote to send something to the IR receiver that causes the receive light to blink, but it doesn’t make the computer actually do anything.)

    Second, the keyboard seems to repeatedly transmit one type of code when a button is pressed and held, and another code when the button is released. I think that when the receiver gets a START code, it tells the computer that the key is down; when it receives a STOP code, it tells the computer that the key is released. The keyboard keeps transmitting the START code over and over again when you hold down a key so that the receiver will register a keypress even if fails to receive one or more transmissions.

    You can see that this is the case in a text editor or terminal: press and hold the ‘a’ button, and while holding it, cover the keyboard’s transmitter. You will have to cover it very well (I used a thick cloth) to trap all the reflections — when the light on the receiver stops blinking, you’ve done it. Now, if you release the button, you’ll see that the computer still thinks you’re holding it down. It won’t stop until it gets a STOP signal or a signal that another key has been pressed.

    The instructions that come with the URC-8811 say to hold down the button on the source remote until you see a double-blink on the learning remote. If you try to teach the learning remote by holding down a key on the keyboard, you’ll only ever teach it a START code, so when you use the universal remote, the computer will think you’re pressing the button over and over again. I can tell you from experience that this is pretty useless.

    The right thing to do is teach the remote by quickly pressing and releasing the key, over and over again. This way, the remote will learn the START and STOP codes for the key. As a bonus, the remote seems to learn more easily if you do this.

    Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any way to get the universal remote to send a START code when you push the button and a STOP code when you release it. I don’t think regular remote controls use START and STOP codes — if, for example, you hold down the volume-up button, it just sends VOLUME-UP over and over again; TVs and stereos don’t need the extra functionality that a START and STOP can give you.

    Anyone else have input on this?

    Reply

    Anonymous Reply:

    When I said to “press and release the key quickly over and over”, I meant that you should press and release the key quickly, then wait (for about a second) then press and release the key again, and so on. It’s MUCH easier to teach the remote if you wait in-between presses.

    Reply

    jgoerzen Reply:

    I too had to just tap the key — quickly press and release — to get the remote to learn it properly. So pressing a key on the remote doesn’t have the effect of repeating the press, ever. However, that’s not been a big annoyance with MythTV — especially since keys like 9 and 3 act as pageup/pagedown keys.

    Reply

  3. I bought the keyboard mentioned in this post a few months ago and finally got around to picking up the OFA 8810 at WalMart this evening. I tried programing it to learb the cursor keys from the keyboard, and it learned something; but the IR receiver doesn’t even flash to acknowledge a signal when I try using the keys. I’m not sure if maybe I have a different submodel of either the remote or the keyboard, but my combination doesn’t want to work!

    Keyboard is model SK-7551 (P/N SK-08308-XUA)
    Remote is model URC-8810B00

    Reply

  4. After a dozen or more attempts to program it I finally got it to “learn” the correct codes. I found that holding the keyboard and remote at an angle to each other rather than straight on helped a lot. If you buy this combination and it doesn’t work at first keep trying cause they are compatible!

    Reply

  5. Don’t you have to make sure your keyboard and wireless remote match whether they use IR or RF?

    I think the range of IR is better (20 feet. vs. 6 feet), but IR keyboards/mice are more expensive.

    Reply

    jgoerzen Reply:

    Yes… the keyboard is definately IR, as is the remote.

    Reply

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