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jetpack's profile

Tutor

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4 Messages

Tue, Jan 6, 2015 3:46 PM

IR remote question

I have a ISB7500 box.  I recently mounted my TV and ran all the wiring behind the wall into a cabinet.  The box is located in the cabinet and i leave the door open to use the IR remote.  I wanted to purchase the RF remote but not for $60.  I also heard the battery life on those are terrible.  Can I use an IR extender/receiver?  There isn't a 3.5mm jack so I'm not sure how that would work.  Any help would be appreciated.  Thank you. 

Accepted Solution

Official Solution

aviewer

Expert

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10.1K Messages

8 years ago

Sure, all you need to do is capture and deliver a valid IR signal to the sensor on the STB. The reason I have not recommended one is that I do not like the idea of spending to add another step that may be possible roadblock. I prefer investing in additional efficiency & functionality.

 

There are two types - optical & electrical.

 

The optical has a capture lense connected to an optical cable with the IR light coming out the other end.

 

The electrical has a capture module, connected by a wire or wireless to an IR blaster.

 

There are no posts of recommendation & if someone has one working they will probably not see your request because they have no reason to visit the forum.

 

Here is the Amazon list  - http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=IR+repeater

 

Be sure to report your experience if you should try one.

 

I held this back earlier. I will post now to relate where I am coming from based on the last seven years of experience -

 

IR Issues

Going back 5-6 years there are many posts about IR interference. Remedies included taping over the  IR sensor, hiding the STB, turning off auto brightness on the TV.

A common fault was the info button press corrupting to an  STB mute action. The number of reports of this have totally fallen away. My personal initial primary problem was getting the zero to register. But, one day long ago that just went away.

Niles Audio Corp. makes IR repeaters & has a video on their web site showing the fragility of the IR coding that is used for U-verse & other boxes.  They said their new line of repeaters could handle it. Oddly, a U-verse customer posted in this community  that they had a NIles install that was not working & after they contacted Niles they did not get any satisfactory resolution.

I came to believe that the IR sensor is too sensitive, That the DVR is worse than other STBs. That command type buttons are worse than the number buttons. That, somehow software updates can make it better or worse, So, it is a moving target. Hard to pin down.

I noticed that the U-verse remote does work better than my Logitech Harmony model 700. I looked at the IR signal through a digital camera. It appeared to me that the Harmony IR signal is stronger than the U-verse remote. This reinforces my theory that the IR sensor is too sensitive.

Recently, my most common problem was FF and Play Buttons often corrupted to chan up and chan down more than six times a night while watching recorded shows, exclusively.

I happened to notice that I had a specific kind of "duct tape" covering the blue light on the STB. Actually, it just looks like duct tape, but is electrical tape available at the Home Depot in the electrical dept. - http://www.homedepot.com/p/Commercial-Electric-2-in-x-150-ft-Vinyl-Electrical-Bundling-Tape-Silver-30002664/202741845#specifications

This tape has a degree of transparency. I thought I would use it to cover the IR sensor. The remote has never worked better.  In over 100 evenings since I applied the tape - watching recordings while FF through the ads - I have not had one chan up - chan down corruption .  Previously, there would have been at least 6x100=600 occurrences.

Almost all button  presses are accepted & none are changed to a different action.


RF Issues

It should not be a surprise, but it is, that half the problems with the RF remote are IR. I run an STB well hidden for a second TV. I had the IR sensor covered with black tape. I replaced the black tape with the "duct tape" & saw an immediate improvement in response to menu buttons. The number buttons were already good - see below for that solution.

The STB using RF must be hidden due to the dongle conversion of RF to IR. If it is not hidden it is subject to the following problems:

IR corruption - Ironically, the RF remote was often offered as a resolution for IR problems. But, if the STB is not hidden nothing has changed to eliminate theI IR corruption problem. If the corrupting light can be seen by the STB IR sensor it will continue to corrupt the IR signal.

If the STB IR sensor can see IR from another remote, it will respond to it.

If another STB can see the IR generated by the dongle, it will respond to it.

Note that hidden means the IR does not see outside light - If you have an optical repeater(like the Niles mentioned above) it is IR subject to corruption. If you have an IR receiver that produces RF to go through a wall, it is still IR subject to corruption. Any optical link open to the room is still open to IR corruption.

Only if the remote is RF (like the point anywhere remote) transmitted to a well hidden device will it ward off IR corruption. The ultimate solution is a wireless remote app. These are available, but incomplete & other devices do not yet support wireless remote. But, the Buddy TV remote can be used for a u-verse STB.

Previously, I found the RF remote lacking in RF power -  in the same room, twelve feet away, hidden only by a thin sheet of cardboard.  One method to increase RF power is to hold the remote under your chin while pressing a button - using your head as an antenna.

A better way is this antenna placed in the battery compartment - http://www.amazon.com/Cellular-Innovations-A-BOOSTER-Universal-Antenna/dp/B00009WCAP/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1366128630&sr=8-8&keywords=cell+phone+booster

With this antenna, the channel numbers are almost always accepted. With the "duct tape" in place, the other buttons work almost every time. The remote now works better than ever.

But, recently, I discovered that weakened batteries triggers poor results due to low power. If the remote starts acting up go for fresh batteries.  Before I realized the batteries were low I was getting better RF by holding it against a metal arm of a reading light.

To increase RF sensitivity - Cut off the base and one leg of a wire coat hanger (one piece). Hold the short leg perpendicular to the dongle and wrap the longer end around the dongle a few turns until the two perpendicular ends are about the same length  (about 3”). Cut the longer one to the same length as the shorter one.

STB Issues

Once IR and RF issues are resolved, there are timing issues with the STB to contend with. Numbers process fast and Menu items process slow. You need quick, light  touch on some numbers to avoid duplicates and a slow, strong press on menu activities. Effort is required to  suppress the urge to press again while waiting for a response. It takes concentration to get effective results. Frequently a second press immediately cancels a slow responding first press. Current IR and RF issues amplify the effect of the timing issue.

aviewer

Expert

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10.1K Messages

8 years ago

I believe you are making a good decision to forego the RF remote. I believe the RF is underpowered & requries highest battery level  to work. I had one for five years & it did work, but not problem free.

 

There are TVs with IR extension to blast a hidden device. I think this is a great feature and there have been a few posts about succesful use with u-verse. The only disadvantage is your TV has to have the feature. You either have to be a master planner or have good luck.

 

I had good luck stumbling on the Logitech Harmony Smart Control to replace the u-verse RF remote. It has so many features, any one of which justifies getting one.

 

Since you mention battery life I will start with that. It has a quarter sized battery that Logitech says is engineered for one year life. I am six months in with usage watching live TV all day & fast forwarding recordings in the evening,

 

It works right every time. Well, almost every time. Easy to "tune" when U-verse IR acts up.

 

The programming is fully flexible. See this link for details - http://forums.att.com/t5/Using-your-U-verse-TV/Logitech-Harmony-Smart-Control-Remote/m-p/4028946#M2963

 

It can control up to three different devices with the same IR code.  It is limited to eight devices & six activites.

 

It works a lot like the IR extender built in to the TV, with a stand alone controller.

 

Even though the buttons are on the small size, it is easy to use because you do not have to point it. You can look at the buttons while pressing, when needbe.

Tutor

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4 Messages

8 years ago

Thank you for the info.  The logitech remote looks to retail for $150, that isn't an option for me.  Will the logitech remote control everything the ATT one does; on-demand, DVR, etc?

aviewer

Expert

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10.1K Messages

8 years ago

I believe the 150 is for the Home control. The list price for the smart control is 130. They have refurbs available for 100. http://www.logitech.com/en-us/remotes/refurbished

 

It is a lot of money, but it is worth it.

 

It can do orders of magnitude more than the u-verse remote, You need to read the link I provided to get a feel for what it can do & you need to experience it to think of more things to do.

 

If anything, your mismatch would be that your needs are small compared to what it can do. Think of it as a future proof investment. You can satisfy your current need & also support anything you add in the future.

 

The u-verse remote is very limited & cannot be upgraded, only replaced. The SC is software that is easily upgraded or modified.

 

The U-verse remote buttons are hardwired. One button sends one IR signal. The interpretation of that signal is done in the STB, THe only way to change the fuction is to change the software in everyones STB.

 

THe SC remote buttons send a fixed signal to the controller. The controller can be programmed to interpret each button as any possible IR signal or generate multiple IR signals. There are up to  six different mappings of the same  buttons.

Tutor

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4 Messages

8 years ago

Again than you for the info and support.  To understand all my options do you know if I can connect an IR extender to the STB? 

Tutor

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4 Messages

8 years ago

Than you very much for your help and the information provided, I like to have multiple options to resolve a solution.   

aviewer

Expert

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10.1K Messages

8 years ago

Glad I can help. I enjoy the discussion & learn from exploring the options.

 

I was looking at the Amazon list & see that some of the offerings are incredibly inexpensive. A great choice, if they work for u-verse. Be prepared that they may not work.

 

A nice compromise between price & quality may be the Sewell offerings. Visit their web site to see the depth of their products. They seem to be into the subject, not just popping something together to make a profit.

 

https://sewelldirect.com/BlastIR-by-Sewell-IR-Emitter-and-Receiver-Kit.asp

 

Since they are sold out, there must be a lot of them out there. You can contact them to verify that they work with U-verse.

mitchflorida

Scholar

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222 Messages

8 years ago

The Uverse Point Anywhere RF remotes are available new on Ebay for $24.  

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