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Using Flirc wirelessly? Connect it to a router?

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I stream all kinds of stuff from the Mac at my desk to the stereo in front of my couch on the opposite side of the room.  I'm using Flirc to control the Mac with a universal remote.  It works great except for one problem: people always point the remote at the stereo instead of pointing it back toward the Mac on the other side of the room, which means the commands often fail because the remote isn't pointed at Flirc.

 

My goal is to see if it's possible to move Flirc - to somehow set it by the stereo and connect it wirelessly to my Mac on the other side of the room.

 

My wireless router sits behind the stereo, and it has a USB port, but it's an Apple Airport Extreme router, and for whatever reason, Airport Extreme doesn't allow its USB port to be used for much other than connecting a USB hard drive.  In other words, the router won't stream a USB keyboard, which means it won't work with Flirc.

 

Do other routers allow the USB port to be used for USB keyboards, and would that work with a Mac?  Or, is there another way to accomplish this?  People always point the remote at the TV and stereo, so I want to move Flirc to the TV and stereo...   the question is, how?

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I'm pretty surprised that you have to point it at flirc. Flirc is pretty sensitive. What about if you upgraded to fw 3.1 if you haven't already. My algorithm is a little slicker

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Keep in mind, my Mac and my stereo are on opposite sides of a room, roughly 15 feet apart.  Let's say someone is on the couch.  That person always points the remote forward, toward the stereo, rather than reaching up over the back of the couch and aiming it at the Mac (where Flirc is).  That's why my Flirc tends to miss remote commands far more often than the TV or any of the equipment in my stereo.  That's why I was thinking that if I could somehow move Flirc to where the stereo is, people would naturally point the remote in its direction instead of 180 degrees away from it.

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First of all is the Flirc below the "line of sight" when you take the IR signal bouncing from the wall in front of the couch? What I mean is you point the remote in the direction of the stereo and it bounces from the wall and goes back. If not you could use an USB extender cable to rise the Flirc higher so it can see the bounced signal. I have my Flirc out of the line of sight from the remote (actually in another room next to the one with TV) and I get 100% reception of the IR signal when pointing remote at the TV (it bounces of at least one wall). It also depends on the power of the remote's IR LED.

 

Now to your question. Short answer: yes, it's possible with some amount of work.

Long answer:

It depends on the firmware of your router. Are you using OpenWRT or some other custom firmware? I'll base my answer on OpenWRT as it is most popular and open router firmware. There is a daemon (service) called triggerhappy. It's available in package repository for OpenWRT so it's installation should be easy but you need to be comfortable with using Linux terminal. Triggerhappy allows you to catch events from an input device (like keyboard) and execute your own scripts upon them. Next you would need some software or script on both devices (the router and the Mac) which would allow to push events over the network. I'm not familiar with Mac applications so I can't help you with this part. For Windows I would use EventGhost which has network input plugin (acts as a server and allows event generating clients to connect to it and push events to it). I also see a way to keep the wake key functionality. It requires the ability to wake the computer with Wake-on-LAN magic packet (most modern computers do) and just map the power button to wol command in the triggerhappy config.

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For the sake of clarity, there's a bit more of an issue here than line of sight.  I'm running the latest 3.1 firmware.  For the sake of comparison, I put Flirc next to the IR receiver on my Mac Mini and I compared the two - mostly because I've been using my universal remote with the Mini for a few years (by teaching the universal remote the Apple remote buttons).  So, it's the same universal remote, but some buttons are using Flirc and some are using the Mini's IR receiver.  The Flirc misses if the remote is not directly pointed at it, but the Mini's IR receiver almost always works even if the universal remote isn't pointed anywhere near it.

 

Really, I love Flirc, but I'm frustrated by how often it misses remote button commands if the remote isn't pointed directly at it.  That's why I assume the only reliable option is to find a way to move it to the other side of the room.

 

I'm using an Airport Extreme router with Apple's firmware.  I never felt the need to try anything like OpenWRT since my router has been rock solid in performance.  I've owned it for a few years (4?) and can easily go a year without rebooting it or worrying about it at all.  That being said...  if some other firmware will enable me to use the Airport Extreme's usb port for Flirc, then it's certainly something to look into.

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there must be something else going on. Try another remote profile.

I have my mine behind my television which is up against a wall and it still gets the signals. It's line of sight, but the sensitivity is crazy good. Also make sure you don't have noise canceler enabled in advanced settings. That wants two keys before sending the key, so maybe that's it.

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I'm not sure I understand what you mean by "remote profile."  I launch Flirc.  I select Full Keyboard, because I need to teach it keyboard commands such as Command F1 through Command F5 and Option F1 through Option F5, plus Command ESC, and so on.  I'm not pairing Flirc with Boxee or Plex.  I'm using Flirc to trigger keyboard commands that control various applications.

 

I checked Advanced Settings, and Noise Canceler isn't checked.

 

I'm not suggesting Flirc doesn't work.  I'm just finding that it often misses commands if the remote isn't pointed enough in its direction, and I'm surprised because it sits next to my Mac's IR receiver which has no trouble picking up commands even if the remote is pointed nowhere near it.

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Sorryi mean have you tried another remote? Are the lights or tv on? If you turn those off does it get better? Maybe something is noisy

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Oh!  Yeah, I've tried using a different remote.  Of course lights are on, as is the TV.

 

I'm using my Apple remote to control Philips Hue lights, which I've written applescripts to control on my Mac.  Thus, the Apple Remote triggers the lights via my Mac's IR receiver.  I've had that setup for 18 months and it's been flawless.  I bought Flirc because the Apple remote only has a few buttons, and I'd like to do more... but Flirc seems to need to have the remote be pointed directly at it, whereas the Apple Mini's IR receiver just needs the signal line to be clear regardless of whether or not the remote is pointed anywhere near it.  And, again, since I taught my universal remote the Apple remote button presses, it's the same universal remote that I'm using with both Flirc (for some buttons) and the Mac Mini's IR receiver (with other buttons).  In a perfect world, I'd just use Flirc for all of the functions, but Flirc seems very finicky in terms of receiving the remote signal unless it's pointed directly at it, whereas the Mac Mini IR receiver doesn't have a problem.

 

Moving Flirc to the other side of the room, where the TV/stereo/etc is would solve all of this.  If only my Airport Extreme router allowed its usb port to work with usb keyboards, this would be so easy.

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Here is how it looks in my flat

media-20141120.png

 

As you can see I have Flirc behind a wall and it works OK when I point remote at the TV. I can even close the doors between rooms (they have many small glass windows but the glass is not 100% transparent) and sensitivity drops only a little and then I need to point the remote more to the left (on the passage next to TV).

As for your router I think there is no way that the original firmware would allow you to use Flirc with it and I couldn't find conclusive information if it is supported by OpenWRT.

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Oh!  Yeah, I've tried using a different remote.  Of course lights are on, as is the TV.

 

I'm using my Apple remote to control Philips Hue lights, which I've written applescripts to control on my Mac.  Thus, the Apple Remote triggers the lights via my Mac's IR receiver.  I've had that setup for 18 months and it's been flawless.  I bought Flirc because the Apple remote only has a few buttons, and I'd like to do more... but Flirc seems to need to have the remote be pointed directly at it, whereas the Apple Mini's IR receiver just needs the signal line to be clear regardless of whether or not the remote is pointed anywhere near it.  And, again, since I taught my universal remote the Apple remote button presses, it's the same universal remote that I'm using with both Flirc (for some buttons) and the Mac Mini's IR receiver (with other buttons).  In a perfect world, I'd just use Flirc for all of the functions, but Flirc seems very finicky in terms of receiving the remote signal unless it's pointed directly at it, whereas the Mac Mini IR receiver doesn't have a problem.

 

Moving Flirc to the other side of the room, where the TV/stereo/etc is would solve all of this.  If only my Airport Extreme router allowed its usb port to work with usb keyboards, this would be so easy.

I got an idea. 

Can you try clearing your config, sit on your couch, and do the records from where you will be using the remote. Maybe it will record a slightly less strong signal and it's hash will be more representative of what the signal looks like from your use case.

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I got an idea. 

Can you try clearing your config, sit on your couch, and do the records from where you will be using the remote. Maybe it will record a slightly less strong signal and it's hash will be more representative of what the signal looks like from your use case.

 

Whoa.  I just ran a quick test, but the difference seems to be night and day.

 

Before, I'd set up Flirc by holding the remote 12 to 18 inches away.  This time, following your suggestion, I tried recording the buttons from 18 feet away, without even pointing the remote at Flirc.  I just held the remote up and pressed the button.  Like I said, I've only done a preliminary quick test, but the difference seems to be huge.  Flirc's ability to pick up the signal is greatly increased when the remote is being used from a distance, and there seem to be no ill effects when using the remote while close to Flirc.

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This is it. I'm positive. I have the same trouble all the time. You can't point it at Flirc withing a foot when programming because the sensitivity is too high. When I do it, I aim the remote up at my ceiling on purpose for this reason.

It will have just gone from 'not sensitive enough' to 'holy shit how is this still working'

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Yeah.  The distance those buttons are learned from really makes a remarkable difference.  I may experiment with putting Flirc in a drawer when programming it to lessen the signal even more.  This is also good news because it means I can move Flirc to a slightly more hidden spot (which I've already tried and it works) for everyday use.  I'd been keeping it visible, but now, I have it hidden behind a CD rack and it's working more powerfully than before.  I'm going to wipe out Flirc's settings for my universal remote and reprogram it from scratch later.  This really is great news!

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So happy it's working better for you now. I'll make an article about this. Thanks so much and keep us posted.

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