[mythtv-users] low-cost low-grief remote

Rod Smith mythtv at rodsbooks.com
Tue Mar 27 16:11:22 UTC 2007

On Tuesday 27 March 2007 00:07, Angus wrote:
> I've been trying to understand what array of remote options there are
> out there for MythTV, but I haven't been able to piece together the
> information I need. I've been reading about remotes that can be gotten
> on the cheap, but the documentation seems to be completely unaware that
> they all need an IR receiver. My tv card has a remote, with an IR
> receiver, but it seems to be a waste of space, since I haven't been able
> to get it to do anything but get irrecord to fail. Speaking of which,
> I'd like a low-grief solution, meaning something highly compatible with
> MythTV, and simple to configure.
>     So can someone recommend a compatible model of remote and IR
> receiver for not too much? I hear that places like Radio Shack and Best
> Buy probably have the material I'm looking for, or in this country: The
> Source and Future Shop.

Others have posted some good comments, but I'd like to clarify some important 
facts and distinctions:

1) MythTV is a keyboard-controlled application. MythTV itself has, AFAIK,
   no awareness of remote controls. To use a remote with MythTV, you
   must have a way to make the remote "look" like a keyboard to MythTV.
   Typically, this is the job of LIRC, but there are other options.

2) As you've noted, your remote hardware comes in two parts: The remote
   and its receiver. These two items can be purchased together or

3) Remote receiver hardware can be very cheap -- there are build-it-yourself
   designs that interface to an RS-232 port that cost just a couple of bucks
   in parts. Other remote receivers are more expensive. Many video capture
   cards include a remote socket. In any of these cases, you need Linux
   driver support for the remote. This could be the standard RS-232 serial
   port driver or something more specialized.

4) If you use an IR receiver that's LIRC-compatible, you can configure
   LIRC to recognize the codes sent by just about any remote, building
   your LIRC configuration atop the low-level driver support described in
   #3. Thus, for the remote side of things, you could buy any remote you
   see in a local store, or even use an old remote (for a dead VCR, say)
   you happen to have lying around.

5) #4 is the theory. In practice, I see lots of posts from people who
   have problems getting LIRC configured to understand their remotes.

6) One alternative to using LIRC is to use a wireless keyboard. You can
   either use the keyboard as a remote or program a programmable or
   "learning" remote to emulate the keyboard. Either sub-approach bypasses
   LIRC entirely, which simplifies configuration on the MythTV system.
   The cost is greater complexity of remote configuration and, in all
   probability, increased cost. (IR keyboards typically cost ~US$50-$80
   new, although they can be had for less on eBay; and you'll need a
   programmable remote if you don't want to use the keyboard as a remote,
   which will cost you still more.)

Personally, I use an IR keyboard, mainly because having a keyboard at my side 
is extremely useful when using MythTV, even if I don't use it for 90% of what 
I do. This means that the cost wasn't much of an issue for me. Going into my 
MythTV-building process, I already had a programmable remote, so I used it. 
It's a JP1 remote, which means it wasn't as easy to configure as it might 
have been, but I already knew the process. Probably it would be easier with 
something like a Logitech Harmony, although you'd need to find an appropriate 
configuration file for whatever keyboard you use.

Rod Smith

More information about the mythtv-users mailing list