Home automation with an RF remote

2013-07-14 16.47.06

I have an old Marmitek X10 remote control that sends both IR and RF 433Mhz signals. I used to use it with the now defunct Showshifter software.

I have just tried capturing RF signals with it, using this Arduino library.

The library did not work perfectly for me, but with some modification it looks like I can reliably capture the signals from it using my HouseControl software.

The remote lets you select a device to control: PC, TV, VCR, DVD, SAT, AUX. Currently only the PC signals seem to be reliably. Also the mouse emulation part of the remote does not seem to be reliable.

As I will be capturing the signals from the remote with HouseControl, I can effectively make it a universal remote that can control any device.

The buttons on it make it most suitable for controlling media devices, so I can use it for controlling my Virgin TiVo, or my TV, or AV receiver, or XBMC, or Spotify, or iTunes, or my Kodak photo frame. I could also used it for switching lights or appliances on and off, or for controlling blinds or the heating, or radiators, etc.

One question is how to select the device that I want it to control. If the PC, TV, VCR, DVD, SAT and AUX buttoms worked reliably, I could use those, but they don’t seem to, and anyway, there is a limited number of them. For the moment I will use the remote with PC selected, and will need another way to select the device to control.

I could use a command from some other source to select the device, such as a voice or a HouseChat command, and I will implement that, but it would also be good to control things purely from the remote.

I think I will reserve a button, probably AV, to select the media device. As each media device has a numeric ID, I can press AV followed by the number to select an AV device. After that all the media control keys on the remote will control the selected media device. I will give spoken feedback to say which device is selected.

There are not as many keys on this remote as on my Virgin TiVo remote, so I will probably not bother with those functions that are redundant on the TiVo remote as they can be reached from the Home menu.

For switching devices on and off, I might reserve two keys on the remote as On and Off keys and press these followed by a 2-digit identifier for the device I want to switch.

For XBMC control, I could probably get OpenElec on the Raspberry Pi to detect the IR or RF signals from the remote using the USB receiver that came with the remote, but it seems more flexible to intercept the RF signals with HouseControl, and to continue to control XBMC via its HTTP API over Wifi.

As I don’t have blinds, heating and radiator control working yet, I will leave that for the moment.

I will try this scheme for a while and see how it works out.

This is all part of my scheme to be able to control all the devices in my house by any control device. I can already use my phone or tablet or a web rowser (using OpenRemote), or any PC (via HouseChat) or voice control to control any device. A universal remote will be a nice addition.

My Leap Motion device is arriving soon, so then I will be able to make a start on gesture control. I am also thinking of getting a gesture control arm band.

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