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Curtis

XBMC and Harmony Smart Remote setup

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hi, i just recently purchased the flirc and liked what i read about it and in some demos. Now comes a few questions.

 

First i see the various controllers and how they can be used to quickly set something up, however how are the settings actually saved to the flirc? As i was loading different controllers and saw what they offered, of course i was thinking on using the XBMC controller and wanted to save that profile but when i hit the Save Configuration menu item and dialog window prompt came up for saving the config to the local hard drive. So i stopped right there until i got some questions answered on exactly the steps needed to actually save any changes that were made to the flirc itself. My assumption here is that you make your changes and then click the save option which saves the file, then use the load configuration to go back to the same file just saved and load that configuration into the flirc? Also what exactly does Clear Configuration do and its impact?

 

Meanwhile i came across another post that mentioned that there was a logitech XBMC profile already created and since im using their ultimate smart remote that was great as it would handle all of the switching of inputs and make things more streamlined. So i setup a new profile on my account and was finally able to locate the flirc xbmc device and was able to map buttons to my new remote and it worked right out of the box so too speak with few issues most i got resolved but have a few left. In the profile for logitech i noticed that a couple of them were not working correctly. After using a utility that would show the keystroke received when the button was pushed. i found that a couple options as follows were either sending the wrong keystroke or no keystroke at all as follows:

 

ParentFolder sends a space character which while the video is being watched in standard xbmc is also the Pause button.

BigStepBack sends nothing and does nothing for xbmc as it expects the ket "]" keystoke.

 

I did modify my keyboard.xml in my userdata folder to try and override the ParentFolder = space to do what i wanted but did not work, tried couple things but still did not work, so in meantime i reused the toggleWatched keystroke and overrode it for my own use with updated keyboard.xml. These changes worked as expected. I have not checked out some of the other options in the logitech profile to be sure something else was missing. which brings me to a couple logitech profile questions.

 

Other than using their custom setup which requires to program it using some other remote it would be much easier and nicer from my point of view if there were more options available say with either adding to the existing logitech profile or creating an Advanced Profile that would have more keys mapped or user defined keys?

 

Meanwhile i think i read here on this forum that it is possible to add additional keys or redirect with the gui on that actual keystrokes to be sent totally different than what is in the profile by overriding it? What would be the steps to do this? In other words how to take my existing flirc that is working with xbmc now and then have the GUI update override it to use a different keystroke by selecting its button and then pressing the button on the Flirc.

 

Which then brings me back to the first question and that is how the actual save to the device accomplished? As i would want to basically load the logitech xbmc config into the say the xbmc controller and thus have to do no changes, then make my additional changes and then save it as a backup but also load it into the flirc just so i'm clear on the procedure and not making any assumptions.

 

One other thing i noticed is that there is a option to upgrade firmware but no option to backup the existing firmware in case something happens during the firmware so if in that event you can reload the previous working firmware. Is there something hidden in order for the backup firmware to show up and also a load firmware button?

 

Also where to find the firmware on this site so i know im using the latest stable release version?

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Using Flirc is a lot simpler to use than you may think, most of the complicated stuff is already done. I've been spending a lot of time writing help documents as forum posts can get very confusing. I think they'll be very helpful for you so I've linked some appropriate ones (but feel free to read all of the help documents). The documents are by no means finished but I believe they're pretty good.
 

First i see the various controllers and how they can be used to quickly set something up, however how are the settings actually saved to the flirc?

https://flirc.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/203689115-What-is-Flirc-
 

As i was loading different controllers and saw what they offered, of course i was thinking on using the XBMC controller and wanted to save that profile but when i hit the Save Configuration menu item and dialog window prompt came up for saving the config to the local hard drive. So i stopped right there until i got some questions answered on exactly the steps needed to actually save any changes that were made to the flirc itself. My assumption here is that you make your changes and then click the save option which saves the file, then use the load configuration to go back to the same file just saved and load that configuration into the flirc?

See how to program flirc:
https://flirc.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/202980419-How-to-set-up-Flirc
also see guide to controllers:
https://flirc.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/202923419-Controller-presets-in-Flirc-GUI
The save configuration is for backing up you configuration or if you wanted to apply it to more than one flirc (without having to go through the steps on each flirc)
 

Other than using their custom setup which requires to program it using some other remote it would be much easier and nicer from my point of view if there were more options available say with either adding to the existing logitech profile or creating an Advanced Profile that would have more keys mapped or user defined keys?

Yeah, there are limitations to the profile, there is a discussion about it somewhere on the forums.
If you open the flirc gui, go into the file menu then advanced settings. Uncheck the "built in profiles" then switch to the keyboard controller and program the letters you want flirc to send with each remote press.
 

One other thing i noticed is that there is a option to upgrade firmware but no option to backup the existing firmware in case something happens during the firmware so if in that event you can reload the previous working firmware. Is there something hidden in order for the backup firmware to show up and also a load firmware button?

Firmware is stored in the GUI, the GUI checks for updates and will notify you.

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I think the most important information here is that you don't need to save anything into Flirc. All the configuration is stored directly in Flirc and all changes (like recording new button) are stored on the fly in its EEPROM memory.

 

Chris, there is an info on "What is Flirc" page (the first link you've pasted) about this but I think it's missing that info that every change in Flirc GUI/CLI is being made on the device right away and no saving is needed.

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Thanks for the quick posts and additional links, which i had already reviewed for most part. So for further clarification when using the controllers anytime i switch controllers, then those preset values for that chosen controller is automatically updated on the fly to the EEProm in real time and thus either overriding all previous values already stored there or merging pre existing values with the new values from the Controller Preset and/or overriding the current used values with its own values? And is it merge or complete override?

 

I'm trying to discover if i just got lucky since i originally bought this to use for xbmc and switched to the XBMC Controller and automatically got those presets, then found out about the Logitech Profile for XBMC and then setup my profile on myharmony.com and since the two matched for the most part i in-fact got lucky with the actual setup as 98% of it worked right from the start.

 

Your last post suggests you are going to update the docs on the flirc to reflect the fact that once you switch controllers its automatically loaded in real time which is good from a user perspective. But will you please also while doing so clarify if its a total write over or a merge of unused keys and override of existing keys programmed so everyone will know up front without making any assumptions like i been doing.

 

In reference to the profile limitations on the Logitech Database all users are basically stuck with just using those keys that were defined that the harmony remotes will use and thus for example if there were say 30 keys defined in the logitech profile and i want to use say 40 keys there is no way i can do that using the harmony remote unless i programmed another remote with the additional 10 codes i want it to use and then use that remote to get the Harmony Hub to record the values sent and store it in the database and then i can use it. But on the other hand if there were a profile that had all of the xbmc codes in an advanced profile (at least total number flirc supports) then no one would have to do any custom remote programming using some other remote thus making things simpler for advanced users to get up and running more quickly as this advanced profile only needs to be setup once and thus saving everyone time spent on getting those additional codes running and also time saved from your side from having to ask questions on getting around the limitation.

 

Also can you fix the BigStepBack and any other missing keys on the logitech profile from sending a "Space" char and have it send the ket "]". Don't know if that has to be fixed on their profile or your software. Sure i can override with the GUI but once again saved steps on everyone's part.

 

Finally a suggestion to add an option in the GUI to be able to backup the current firmware to our local hard drive for reloading in case something goes wrong with the new firmware so that users are not stuck waiting for the fix to the new firmware they can just reload the previous one they had (Another option would to put the previous firmwares on the site and users can then just download it and then upload the old working firmware for their setup until the new firmware is fixed).

 

No customer should have to wait for a previous firmware to be emailed to them or something. Its like when you build you own pc from parts purchased and you upgraded to the latest firmware provided by say the motherboard manufacturer and it breaks your system, that you can't download the previous release your working motherboard was using and then reload it until their issue gets fixed but are stuck with the issue the new firmware caused until someone gets the time and resources allocated to get the issue fixed thus frustrating your customers even further. So far i have not found a location to download any previous versions or just point me to the right location where its at?

 

I will say that i like the concept of your product very much and it has great potential and thus far with some limitations it has exceeded some of my expectations and once i get this thing fully figured out will be buying many more over time, and also the response from some of your advanced flirc'ers providing extra tips and such as Yawor of which i read several of his posts and they were very informative and provided additional insight on certain things along with others (Chris).

 

One final question in the meantime if i decide to do custom programming with another remote, are there certain types of remotes i should use or stay away from to prevent conflicts (i.e existing MCE type remotes)?

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Hi again,

 

Flirc holds a simple mapping in its EEPROM, where it maps a value representing an IR signal from the remote onto the keyboard key (+ possible modifiers). Of course it also has a built-in profile for XBMC in its firmware, but it's the same thing as the mapping in EEPROM except it is not changeable by the user (it's hardcoded and only Jason can make changes to it by releasing new firmware versions). The built-in profile is a basic one, so if you want to get more from Flirc you need to build your own mappings from scratch.

 

Changing the controllers in Flirc GUI has no effect at all on the Flirc stored config by itself. Actions that make changes to Flirc are: recording a button, deleting a button, making changes in Advanced options, clearing configuration (its like a format) and loading configuration (loads config from previously backed up one using save configuration).

The GUI has multiple controllers but they are interchangeable, at least with the keyboard controller. They are just a simplified views with predefined key bindings - for example a Back key on XBMC controller is mapped to a backspace button. You can switch the controller at any time and record a button from it at any time. It'll just be added to the mapping. You can check that by recording a Back key on XBMC controller then go to Keyboard controller and press recorded button - the backspace key should light up.

 

Now if you want to add more buttons to your config then I think it would be best to start from scratch. You can disable built-in profile by unticking the Built-in profiles option in Advanced options. After that you are free to map any button on the remote to any keyboard key combination (key + modifiers) you want. If you know what keys are used by XBMC/Kodi then you can just use the Keyboard controller to map its functions to remote buttons (personally my preferred way - XBMC controller is not 100% accurate). Just click a key in the GUI you want to map (if you want to add modifier you need to click them before the button) and when app ask you to press a button, press one on the remote and that's all.

 

If you have any further questions don't hesitate to ask.

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No customer should have to wait for a previous firmware to be emailed to them or something. Its like when you build you own pc from parts purchased and you upgraded to the latest firmware provided by say the motherboard manufacturer and it breaks your system, that you can't download the previous release your working motherboard was using and then reload it until their issue gets fixed but are stuck with the issue the new firmware caused until someone gets the time and resources allocated to get the issue fixed thus frustrating your customers even further. So far i have not found a location to download any previous versions or just point me to the right location where its at?

 

For Flirc, I think the current model for firmware distribution is the most suitable.

We used to have links for downloading old firmware but don't anymore, we have a beta releases so these bugs are usually worked out before they get send to everyone.

There are many drawbacks for the Flirc project having multiple firmwares floating about.

 

 

But will you please also while doing so clarify if its a total write over or a merge of unused keys and override of existing keys programmed so everyone will know up front without making any assumptions like i been doing.

 

Apologies. I'll clarify that changing controllers does not replace existing keys.

 

The documents are quite new so I try to add in detail i've missed as queries come up - I do read every thread in this forum. Also worth noting i've only recently taken up writing help documents and I do this part time (in my spare time).

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 about this but I think it's missing that info that every change in Flirc GUI/CLI is being made on the device right away and no saving is needed.

This has been added to "How to set up flirc" in the getting started section

 

 

 

I'll clarify that changing controllers does not replace existing keys.

This has been added to "Controller presets in Flirc"

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For Flirc, I think the current model for firmware distribution is the most suitable.

We used to have links for downloading old firmware but don't anymore, we have a beta releases so these bugs are usually worked out before they get send to everyone.

There are many drawbacks for the Flirc project having multiple firmwares floating about.

 

 

Apologies. I'll clarify that changing controllers does not replace existing keys.

 

The documents are quite new so I try to add in detail i've missed as queries come up - I do read every thread in this forum. Also worth noting i've only recently taken up writing help documents and I do this part time (in my spare time).

 

Thanks for the reply but i myself disagree personally. I understand the support issues that can arise from having multiple firmwares to be supported and it becomes a support nightmare and like most manufacturers (Hardware & Software) any new major support issues for most part requires customer to load latest fixpack and/or firmware update so that the issue can be reproduced. Meanwhile customer can download to previous working version until the fix is place in the new firmware.

 

As it stands now customer is left hanging until the issue with new firmware gets resolved. A policy could be set that you would only support the current new released firmware with any updates, but it does allow customer to go back to previous working level until the issue gets resolved or some other workaround is found. I'm not saying you should have all previous firmware releases on the support site, but just give customer the option to back up current firmware until the issue they are having is fixed in new firmware. That's my 2 cents worth. And once again thanks for your reply and don't take anything i say as a personal attack on you or the product and hope u understand from my point of view

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Yawor,

 

Thanks for your advice however i do have limitations with the harmony hub as it will only send out the commands its been programmed for using its profile. The smart remote i think only communicates with the hub using RF protocols and it's the Hub itself that sends out a IR signal or Bluetooth signal for the playstation3. So it looks like for me to get the extra keys that i want to use i will need to program the Harmony Hub with the new values by using some existing remote and then go back and map flirc using the updated command with the mapped Smart Remote. I could always use a spare remote and program flirc with it for additional stuff, but that then defeats the purpose of using the Harmony setup with just one remote.

 

Now are there any specific types of remotes i should not use for creating these custom commands with the harmony so that there is no  confusion and or overlapping between different devices i have?

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Yawor,

 

Thanks for your advice however i do have limitations with the harmony hub as it will only send out the commands its been programmed for using its profile. The smart remote i think only communicates with the hub using RF protocols and it's the Hub itself that sends out a IR signal or Bluetooth signal for the playstation3. So it looks like for me to get the extra keys that i want to use i will need to program the Harmony Hub with the new values by using some existing remote and then go back and map flirc using the updated command with the mapped Smart Remote. I could always use a spare remote and program flirc with it for additional stuff, but that then defeats the purpose of using the Harmony setup with just one remote.

 

Now are there any specific types of remotes i should not use for creating these custom commands with the harmony so that there is no  confusion and or overlapping between different devices i have?

 

I don't know what can you do with the Harmony itself as I don't own one. If you are able to set up additional codes by yourself (even from a different profile) then you should be OK. If not then you can always change the profile to a totally different one which has enough buttons for you to map them in Flirc to everything you want.

 

You can use almost any type of remote for extra commands, but there are some issues with some. For example RC6 protocol used by most MCE remotes uses alternating IR signal for each button - this requires recording each button at least two times to catch every signal for a single button. I like to use remotes which use NEC family protocols. I also prefer TV profiles as they usually have a lot of buttons - but remember to use a different manufacturer than the one you have your TV from. For example I have my remote set to some new Samsung TV and everything works like a charm. LG TVs also use NEC protocol, and probably some Panasonic ones too.

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Yawor,

 

Thanks for that input. Just my luck my tv's are LG's so can't use that remote and i thought there might be an issue with using a MCE type remote as i have a mediagate that i was using before and that's why i asked just in case. I could possibly try my Dish remote but set it on a separate device or find some other old tv remote. Btw how did u find out which protocols a certain tv remote is using?

 

The nice thing about the harmony remotes is that with one button you press an activity like "Watch a Movie" and the harmony remotes handle all switching of inputs on the tv and avr and all other devices involved in that activity to the right inputs automatically which makes life easier. The Harmony Smart Remote is more minimalist has basic controls are all there but it allows overloading each button with either a short press or long press, which allows you to assign a specific button to have one or two roles depending on the press length. Default if not overridden is that a short or long press will send the exact same command unless you set it up to have two different commands based upon a long or short button press.

 

I also have the harmony 650, but the down arrow button in center stopped working and it uses discontinued ps3 adapter to send the Bluetooth commands as the harmony ultimate hub sends the Bluetooth commands directly to the PS3. My adapter still works but its only a matter of time before it craps out and thus the handwriting is on the wall to upgrade.

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