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Old 08-16-2010, 10:18 PM  
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IR (Infrared) Repeaters / DirectTV

I have not seen any threads on the use of IR Repeaters within a motorhome and since I have been very frustrated trying to establish effective, reliable control of the A/V equipment (DirectTV Receiver, TV's, VCR, etc.), I'm going to share my experiences assuming a common desire to control A/V equipment WITHOUT having to leave the cabinet door(s) open.

My motorhome came with a Xantech (not Xantrex!) IR Repeater system that used a small IR receiver block "stuck" to the bottom of the front TV cabinet, a small control box, and multiple emitters (you stick these to the front of the equipment to repeat the IR signals).

There were 3 - problems with this system. 1) I couldn't control the DirectTV receiver from the bedroom while laying in bed and no means to add that functionality. 2) The system became increasingly inconsistent & unreliable for some unknown reason. 3) I couldn't control the DirectTV receiver from the outside while watching the patio TV (where do you point the remote?!).

I found a Jensen IR Repeater system at Best Buy with an external emitter to use for the bedroom. The initial problem was that I had to then try to stick 2 - emitters on each device (Xantech & Jensen) for both to work. I thought the Jensen system was working ok so I purchased a 2nd unit for the VCR with the idea that they would both react to either transmitter units on the same frequency. However, the Jensen system became even more inconsistent & unreliable than the Xantech system. A total waste of money!!!

I investigated more products and finally came up with what appears to be the best (maybe only) system that works. It's an IR to RF system made by NextGeneration and sold through Smarthome. It uses a small "space ship" like receiver with multiple emitters to control upto 6 - A/V devices. You simply replace a battery (AA or AAA) in any remote (DirectTV or whatever) with their RF transmitter/rechargeable battery solution and "voila"! And, you don't have to point the remote at anything! You can be upto 140' away from the receiver unit typically placed inside the front cabinet.

If you only need to control DirectTV DVR's, you can purchase an RF adapter from DirectTV for a nominal fee. However, any other A/V devices in your motorhome can NOT be controlled in this manner!

I'm sure there are other possible solutions that may fit your particular needs. I only know that ALL of the straight IR Repeater type products appear to have negative reviews from customers. Only this IR to RF solution seems to work as reliably as using the remote directly. So far, it's well worth the cost ($80)!

If you have other solutions that should be considered or fit specific needs, perhaps this thread is an approriate means to share your experiences for future reference.
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Old 08-16-2010, 10:28 PM  
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I use the RCA version of this X10 device. Probably the same as you have and it works fine. RCA version isn't sold any more. I've had it for about two years.

Amazon.com: X10 POWERMID Remote Control Extender Kit PM5900: Electronics

$50.44 With free shipping.

Dick
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Old 08-16-2010, 10:39 PM  
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I feel your pain. I fought with it for two years. I used an IR to RF to RF back to IR (probably same as you describe) with mixed results. I think the units I used were made by Terk(?)

I finally solved the problem when I did my major HD upgrade and went to the DirecTv HD DVR with IR remote. I can't control any other external equipment but with the DVR that's no a big deal for me.

Sounds like a pretty cleaver approach by Next Generation though.
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Old 08-16-2010, 11:03 PM  
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I use a Jobsite IR-Kit with the DTV DVR at home. Works great.
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Old 08-17-2010, 09:34 AM  
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Here is a list of issues/requirements to consider when puchasing any IR Repeater system:

- Make sure the system supports multiple A/V devices (DirectTV, TV, VCR, etc.) by providing multiple emitters. As an example, the NextGeneration product I purchased comes with only 1 - emitter but multiples can be purchased separately. I was able to reuse the Xantech emitters. Avoid multiple emitters on the same device - problematic!

- Make sure the IR Repeater system provides "wireless" capability which is required if you want to control the A/V equipment from the bedroom or patio. A wired IR receiver (such as the Xantech unit) won't do you much good from the bedroom or patio unless you want to install them (wiring - yuk?!).

- Make sure you can control the A/V equipment from the outside patio area if you plan to watch TV or whatever from that location. Remember, you MUST have "line of sight" for an IR remote control to work.

- Any "IR to RF" system can be incompatible with some A/V devices such as a DirectTV DVR. In fact, the NextGeneration product I purchased comes in 2 - versions; 418 MHZ & 433 MHZ. The 418 MHZ version is compatible with DirectTV whereas the 433 MHZ is NOT!

- Once you've selected an IR Repeater system, check out customer reviews! If I would have done my homework, looked for reviews, and actually paid attention to those revies, I could have save myself a lot of money and frustration. If the customers are telling you that the system doesn't work in whatever situation they describe, you should probably assume it won't work for you either.

The above issues represent my experiences.
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Old 08-17-2010, 10:01 AM  
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Wow thanks for posting this info! I have been wondering what/how to fix/address this issue. It's nice to have the tv in bedroom but annoying to have get up to change channel. Worse yet, when I am in kitchen cooking and my honey is in bedroom asking me to chg channel!!! Thanks for the time & effort, plus sharing.

Christie
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Old 08-17-2010, 05:10 PM  
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Direct tv has recievers that are "RF" with no additional equipment. The remote is RF so there is no messing around. I can control my reciever from the bedroom or from outside the coach with no problem and no additional devices.

Works for me !
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Old 08-17-2010, 10:54 PM  
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And we've found that by knocking out the raised panels in the cabinet doors in the Direct TV receiver and A/V systems sides of the TV, and replacing those with dark anodized bronze mesh, we don't have any trouble with any remote working with the A/V equipment with the doors closed. Plus we don't have to worry about whether our cooling fans work.
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Old 08-18-2010, 10:54 AM  
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You should put one emitter on each device to be controlled.. A single I/R repeater can support up to 4 emitters and it is NOT necessary to have one for sat, one for VCR, one for DVD and such.. Just one receiver in the bedroom and up to 4 emitters in the front.

Now the problem

Emitters come in two flavors, Both have the same plug (A mono "mini" headphone plug) 1/8" as I recall) but one brand comes with two emitters per plug, and another puts only one emitter on each plug

I have both kinds here (For other reasons) My Radio Shack repeater came with one emitter per plug. The Replay units (Which are not repeaters but use the same emitters) had dual emitters. My Home made emitter is a single.

I controlled several VCR's with the Radio Shack unit, never had a problem

DO clean things off from time to time.

Oh, there are two types of repeaters

The vintage RS unit I have (Currently in storage) was a wire-line repeater. That is you spliced the receiver into the antenna coax at the television. You also plugged it into the wall as it took power (Well a power brick)

At the "Device to be controlled" end (In the motor home, if I install it, which I plan on doing, I'll put it behind the multi-switch video distribution panel) you splice in the Emitter driver box, looks like a coax splitter save it has only 2 coax fittings and 2 1/8" Phone jacks.

The receiver senses the IR signal from the remote.. Turns power on and off to the power inserter inside it, the emitter block pulls the power off and keeps it from reaching the device, and feeds it to the emitter.

ANY I/R remote will be repeated by it.

NOW.. The other kind of I/R remote

This one converts the I/R to a radio signal, and a receiver at the other end converts back,, On this kind both the receiver and the emitter box have to be plugged in, NOTHING connects to the cable (Well In some cases but let's not go there)

This unit is subject to interfrence from MSW inverters, Florescent lights, Other repeaters in the rig next door, and many different forms of radio interference well known to us radio operator types. Even your Wi-Fi router in some cases can annoy it.
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Old 08-18-2010, 10:17 PM  
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Yikes! Sounds like the sound and video system(s) just need a multiplex system. Hey Vansco!!!
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Old 08-19-2010, 04:10 PM  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by takepride View Post


Yikes! Sounds like the sound and video system(s) just need a multiplex system. Hey Vansco!!!
To err is human. To really screw up requires a computer.
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Old 08-22-2010, 10:36 AM  
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I use a system from Universal Remotes. Bought their setup on eBay about 5 years ago, and just bought a new one (only so I could upgrade) a few months ago. Still waiting on my A/V guy to program the remote for me, but then I will have one remote that I can use for EVERYTHING in the RV.

We had the same setup in our house for years and loved it to pieces. The remote is macro programmed (so it's easy to get to the satellite setup screen, etc) and with the RF feature, you don't have to worry about the aiming at all. I've always had a single emitter per device, and never had any issues with that setup at all. I think our new remote is the MX900, and found it on eBay for about $300-with the full emitter setup.
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Old 08-22-2010, 03:56 PM  
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TravelingJ, I took a look at your Univeral Remotes product online and it appears to meet all of the requirements I listed in a previous post. It's very similar to the Next Generation product with the added feature of using a single remote control. I also like the ability to program a specific address for your application. I'm hoping that I don't have interference from another MH using my exact same system and parked close to me.

Looks like an excellent product and one that others should consider as well as the Next Generation product. It does appear to be a little "pricey" in that the remote control is $250 & the MRF-260 base unit is $150 on Amazon (assuming new units).

If anyone is interested in purchasing the Universal Remotes products they're exclusively available via Amazon according to the company web site. Typically, used products may be available through other sources such as EBay.
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Old 08-26-2010, 02:40 PM  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bcbowers View Post
TravelingJ, I took a look at your Univeral Remotes product online and it appears to meet all of the requirements I listed in a previous post. It's very similar to the Next Generation product with the added feature of using a single remote control. I also like the ability to program a specific address for your application. I'm hoping that I don't have interference from another MH using my exact same system and parked close to me.

Looks like an excellent product and one that others should consider as well as the Next Generation product. It does appear to be a little "pricey" in that the remote control is $250 & the MRF-260 base unit is $150 on Amazon (assuming new units).

If anyone is interested in purchasing the Universal Remotes products they're exclusively available via Amazon according to the company web site. Typically, used products may be available through other sources such as EBay.
I used one of the remotes in our RV for 2 years, and never had any interference issues. The device that picks up the RF signal is adjustable and movable so you can help to avoid interference within your own rig. Obviously you won't want to have to move it each time you go to a new park.

I was up late last night programming my remote, and I must say-I love it! It can learn from other remotes, so ours will even control our A/C and fans. Having a single remote in the RV makes a world of difference in cleaning up clutter and operating all of our toys.
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