Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Remote Control for FM in every room

When my 4 day Chrismas holiday began, I had only one remote for controlling my wonderful Kenwood L-1000T FM tuner, and it only worked in the living room aimed in a very tricky way at the actual L-1000T because of how it is tucked behind the speaker.  I had to reach and wave the remote until it finally worked.  I did have a learning programmable remote control that I had never gotten to work, and another brand name programmable remote still in it's packaging.  Without remote control, it's is not desireable to scan FM channels but rather simply to keep it fixed to just one favorite, which can get boring particularly over a Christmas holiday...

Now I have easy remote control of the L-1000T in the living room, and in the bedroom and kitchen as well, through my network of remote control extenders.  Remote control extenders receive a remote control infrared signal in one room, send it via radio signals to another room, and then transmit the infrared signal toward the equipment that is to be controlled.  Most of the ones I use are from Radio Shack and they are small black rounded pyramids with short antennas.

And now I also have two working remotes, one being the Sony RM-VL610 learning programmable remote that had never worked before (now I can't find the unopened one).  I've spent much time listening to different stations in bedroom and kitchen.  With just one control, it is almost always in the wrong room, but with two remote controls I can have one in kitchen and one in bedroom, so they are always there, I don't have to remember to carry it with me.

The trick was finding the instruction manual to the Sony learning remote, and successfully getting it to learn the L-1000t remote codes.  Even with the instructions, it was tricky because the instructions themselves are not very clear in parts.  It's often unclear when you simply press buttons as opposed to holding them, or vice versa, and when you are supposed to let go.  In fact, in one particular case, you are supposed to hold a button, and the manual just says "press" and not "press and hold" but if you read to the end of the section, in the Notes section it tells you that you are really supposed to "press and hold".  Actually, it works either way, most of the time, which makes things even more confusing.

Once I had programmed the remote, which I was doing in the kitchen, I found it worked through the kitchen wireless remote receiver.  And then I tested it using the bedroom, and voila, the programmable remote actually worked better in the bedroom than the actual Kenwood remote.  So I could use the Kenwood remote in the Kitchen (or living room) and the Sony in the bedroom.  I then found I could program buttons on the Sony to control the HDMI switch in the kitchen (something that I had tried but never been able to do before) and also the Samsung TV in the bedroom (another thing that I had tried but was never able to do before).  So I'm on my way toward being able to use this programmable remote to control many things, making bedroom remote control life in bed far easier.

One other thing I had to do before I made any progress was to re-orient the remote control transmitter in front of the L-1000T.  The current orientation of the L-1000T and the remote extender are shown in the photo above, the remote extender is in the lower left corner on top of a pile of collectable Allied Radio catalogs which boosts it to the correct height.  Sometime in the past few weeks I had been trying to remote control the L-1000T directly, thinking the remote extenders were not letting me get at all the obscure functions.  So I had angled the L-1000T badly for the remote transmitter so it was not working at all.  So I had to do a lot of fiddling with the angle of the Kenwood and the angle of the remote transmitter to get it to work again.  It mostly didn't work from the bedroom, but it did work from the kitchen, after much fiddling.  I tried attaching a bunch of tie slips to the antenna on the transmitter to make it work better in the bedroom, but that approach didn't help.  I was finding I could use the Kenwood remote in the bedroom so long as I as standing right next to the bedstand light in a particular spot.  As inconvenient as this was, at least it verified that the remote control extenders were working correctly.  It took using the Sony programmable remote for reliable and easy bedroom operation.  One can guess that the Sony programmable remote puts out a higher signal level than the Kenwood remote, and that makes it work better through wireless extenders.  Or, perhaps it puts out a "clarified" signal with exaggerated on/off edges, the kind of thing you get when you use a "sharpness" control on some TV's.

A learning programmable remote is absolutely required for this application.  Programmable remote controls with a bunch of presets never or almost never have settings for extremely rare components like the Kenwood L-1000T tuner.  But since preset types are much easier to use than learning types, preset remotes have mostly driven learning remotes off the shelves.

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