RaspBMC: Ebay USB IR remote

raspi_remote

One of the beauties of RaspBMC is the variety of control methods available to the user.  My first box is connected to an HDMI-capable television and uses CEC to pass control codes from the TV to the Raspi, which is all very neat and convenient.  I also use Yatse XBMC remote on my Android phone because there are lots of benefits to being able to browse titles, select and queue content to watch (it can also be a little more responsive than the TV remote).  I also like the feature where you can browse on your phone and send youtube content to the TV, etc.

But the second box is connected via composite video and so gaining control codes from the remote is not an option.  Until very recently this unit did not have network connectivity either, so control via a phone app wasn’t possible either.  Indeed even though it now does have wifi, phone control as the sole option isn’t exactly the golden solution.  Sure, browsing the library via the phone is much nicer than the blocky, hard to read, low resolution of the TV but for every day tasks like pausing, volume control, etc having to unlock your phone is not super convenient.

So I thought that I’d have a go ordering a really cheap, generic USB IR remote off ebay ($4 delivered) and simply see what happens.  Again this is one of those areas where I have not read any forums posts about whether or not this works but it’s not a high-stakes gamble.

And the answer is that yes it does work.  You’ll need to reboot to get it to recognise, it won’t just hot-plug the same way that connecting a mouse to your PC would.  Many of the common keys are already functional straight away (eg play, pause, arrows, page up/down) and the mouse feature also works.  There are plenty of buttons however that are not assigned, but that should be fairly trivial to work out using a similar approach to detecting CEC commands via SSH and then creating an appropriate entry in /home/pi/.xbmc/userdata/keymaps/remote.xml.

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5 Responses to RaspBMC: Ebay USB IR remote

  1. I know this comment is off post – but on the Keezer you made, what was the starting size of your freezer? I’m looking into doing something similar, but retro fitting it into a piece of furniture I already have and that freezer looks about right. Thanks in advance!

    • philw4rd says:

      My freezer is 164L. You can fit 4 kegs into a freezer that size, but you will need a collar to increase the height enough to allow two of those kegs to sit on the compressor hump. Originally mine had the longest dimension (besides the height) running towards the operator, but I wanted the longest dimension to run laterally so it wouldn’t poke out into the room as much. This might be a problem if you keep the original lid and hinges (it would hinge awkwardly to the side), but if do like me and remake those parts then you have full freedom to do as you like. Honestly I think a custom lid is a better option anyway – just keep the door seal to reuse.

  2. Vladimir says:

    If you’ve already mapped this remote, maybe you’ll be kind enough to upload the file and give us instructions where to put it. Sorry, I’m new to this 🙂 Can’t really figure out how to get this remote mapped right.

    • philw4rd says:

      This RaspBMC box lives at my girlfriend’s house and while she’s totally down with controlling it via an Android-based XMBC remote (eg Yatse), her luddite iPhone-weilding flatmates are not. So that’s where this IR remote came in – simply a stop-gap to make my life easy.

      In all honesty, most of the major functions work straight out of the box (play, pause, arrows, mouse, etc), so I haven’t actually been motivated to nut out every last key! I was more putting the post up to highlight that a cheap remote like this works fairly well with no configuration other than a reboot.

      TL;DR – sorry, once I saw it mostly worked I didn’t do much with it. hope it doesn’t fight you too bad! 😉

      • Vladimir says:

        It’s alright 🙂 Altogether everything works fine, it’s only vol.down that bothers me. Up works fine, but the down button seems off. I’ll try to figure it out myself 🙂 Thanks for reply.

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