SmartThings Community

New to smartthings: IR Home Theatre Integration?

You could make an action titles that toggle through the predefined actions. Like TV, Music, Etc. You can set a default app for the action to launch. My music action automatically starts Spotify on my Roku. That would make it easy just to walk up and get some music going.

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Roomie gets quite good reviews if you like an iPad interface for your remote.

To work with SmartThings, I believe you’d have to purchase two add ons.

The first is the wifi to IR hardware bridge, around $200, I believe made by Global Cache, the same company that makes the iTach described above. You need one for each room with IR devices, just like the iTach.

Then there’s the Roomie Service, an additional $30, which is what gives you the schedule and trigger ability. You only need one of those.

So it’s a nice purpose-built prepackaged version of what @scottinpollock is doing with the HAM bridge plus iTach at a somewhat higher cost with somewhat less flexibility. Certainly the Roomie has easier set up and comes with the smartapp already written, which would be worth some extra cost to many people.

I don’t know whether it has any voice control options.

Oops, no more $ on HA can be budgeted by missus unless regular shades, curtains, switches(hello…) etc. are taken care of! As such only two other device I am buying in near future is Rachio Iro ( got hit like crazy last year with water bill using a vintage Richdell) and v2. Rest of the allowance will be towards zwave switches…

An iTach is a wifi (or ethernet) to IR hardware bridge, and they are more like $100. Plus, since it has three emitter ports, you can use almost any low voltage wiring (cat5, coax, twisted pair) to run the emitter outputs to multiple rooms. I in fact control 4 rooms with a single iTach IP2IR using three emitters and a wireless IR repeater.

The reason I created HAM Bridge was not only to talk to iTachs, but also Philips Hue, Venstar thermostats, TiVo, and anything with a network api, as well as services on my Mac, including iTunes, mail, chat, and Indigo. For instance, when someone knocks on my door when I am not home, the main system fires up, sets input to airplay, and iTunes plays 2 large barking dogs. It is quite convincing. Or, when I arrive (and it’s after 5), the main and garage systems fire up, and my downstairs TiVo starts playing the 5pm news. Or when I leave, everything shuts down… Everything.

While Roomie can do some of this directly, HAM Bridge can do it from anything capable of calling a simple URL, including Roomie, iRule, Tasker, SmartThings, a browser, terminal, web page, etc. Another huge advantage is the ease at which these automated scenes can be edited. Changing lots of settings in SmartThings or Harmony is a real pain, where HAM Bridge’s script based architecture allows me to quickly change things up from a laptop, tablet, or phone by editing a simple text file (and there is NO copy and paste in Harmony). (c;

After more than 3 decades futzing about with HA, I’ve learned that flexibility and openess is key. That is the main draw of SmartThings for me… I just hope they can soon iron out all of their issues.

That is the ST > Harmony piece I presume.

Correct. I just got an email from the Harmony Home Team saying that they are working on the ST integration. The email also said they would be opening the API to other developers in general. When it was working I could trigger actions on the harmony based on button presses or other events within ST.

Yeah, but all that Harmony is exposing is start/stop activity, right?

Pretty much that is all it has at this point. I don’t know what the API offers as it is still closed. But on the harmony side I created an activity that turns on my receiver, TV, and Roku. Then it opens Spotify and begins playing the last item that was in use. Hopefully, they expose more with the API or at least to the partners like ST. I would like to able to do functions like play, stop, volume, etc. I really want to be able to schedule to color temp and brightness of my bedroom TV.

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This could be emulated as an activity. This is a ridiculous workaround, but doable.

You should be able to copy activities and add additional commands to emulate, but I wonder how well it will work. The newer remotes seem to space out commands like crazy to allow the IR to bounce around and prevent timing issues, so latency could be a problem.

My ST > Harmony functionality still works, so I’ll try to test something this week. Maybe I can set one up for pause that would include bringing up some lights and back off for “resume play.”

It does work, but not great. Harmony is smart enough not to send the power on commands for devices that are already on, but it resends the input commands even though I’m already on the right input. That causes the screen to flicker on my tv, and a band across the screen from the AVR announcing it’s input. The latency isn’t as bad as I feared, but the other issue prevents it from being viable.

I really wish their API was open and exposed more controls!

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There was an option somewhere within Harmony setup to not change the input. Check activity configuration.

I wish I could just use it as a programmable IR blaster.

I have been a Roomie user for a couple of years… and it works wonderfully. Now that it supports SmartThings I have Roomie controlling everything around my house. When it is time to watch TV in my bedroom, it can turn on my tv, dim the lights, turn on the ceiling fan, and turn off lights around the house. Works perfectly for more than just my theater room now.

Now, SmartThings is where my automatic actions happen… and Roomie is used for my TV/Music listening, I don’t need to use SmartThings interface much at all :smile: Yes, there is quite an investment to use Roomie but for me how EASY it is to use compared to other solutions won out.

You were right! I copied my other activities, but there is an option not to set the input. Using that it works really well! Latency was barely there.

Still a tedious workaround, and you’ll need a SmartApp for every command and a virtual switch or something to trigger the SmartApp; but I can find a few good uses.

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@scottinpollock So would it not be possible to do this on a PC? If I’m understanding this thread correctly it requires your software, which is Mac-only, for this configuration to function.

@zj4x4

It’s a good question. I guess the short answer to your question is that much of it does not require HAM Bridge. But without it, you’d have to fire up a web server on your PC. And you’d need to get a local, server side scripting language, like php, running as well. And of course, write the php side of things. That would certainly get you the http functionality working.

The main advantage the Mac brings to the table is its baked in inter-application communication layer known as AppleEvents, and its English-like scripting component (AppleScript). AppleScript lets you query and command virtually every application on a Mac, locally, and remotely. And it is a very rich language, including a lot of built in functions and conditionals.

HAM Bridge just makes much of this a point and click affair. Of course you’ll need to write the scripts that the events trigger, but AppleScript is well documented, with tons of examples out there.

I have considered porting it to Windows (or even Linux), but I’m not heavily invested in those systems, so don’t really know if there is enough system wide communication available to make HAM Bridge a viable product. Windows has the command line, but it’s not very useful. At one time there was Visual Basic, but was limited to a small number of supported apps, and I’m not sure it exists anymore. Of course there is the shell on Linux, and now PowerShell on Windows, but I don’t know if there are many command line equivalents available for desired applications.

For instance, on the Mac, if I want to get iTunes to play, it is simply:

Tell application "iTunes"
Play
End tell

So, given how cheap it can be to pick up a Mac Mini, how small its physical and power footprints are for a 24/7 server, and how capable it is in instructing all applications for use in media, communication to HA devices, controlling complex audio/video scenes, accessing the internet for news/weather info for text to speech playback, even sending texts to my Google Voice number, it really is the best way to go. It not only opens a lot of new doors, it makes setting up and editng really complex operations as simple as editing a text file.

BTW, the next thing I am considering for HAM Bridge is a scheduler, as this is my major gripe with SmartThings right now.

Just wanted to clarify for future readers what you meant by “this configuration to function.”

You can get IR control of many devices through either RoomieRemote (a tablet app) or Logitech’s Harmony remote, neither of which would require a computer as well.

RoomieRemote is using a rebranded and somewhat more costly version of the same IR blaster that the Ham Bridge approach uses (about $50 more for the same IR blaster, but then you don’t also need a computer). Harmony has their own mini blaster that is included with their remote.

The HAM Bridge solution Scott has authored is much more flexible and powerful, but if you just want your TV to go on and your lights to go down at the same time, either of the two prepackaged solutions might be enough for some people.

FWIW

As long as we’re clarifying here, Roomie can use any of the iTach series of devices as they all have an open API. So can iRule. I am not a fan of Roomie’s ‘pay as you go, and keep paying’ pricing model, and prefer iRule.

And while iRule has no direct SmartThings integration, it is a simple thing to set up endpoints for the devices that can only be controlled by SmartThings (ZWave, etc.) so that they can then be controlled by iRule. For anything with an http based API (ala Philips Hue for example), iRule can control those directly.

It is only when you desire some level of computer control, or complex scenes involving multiple protocols, triggered from SmartThings events, that something like HAM Bridge is necessary.

Note that IIRC, even SmartThings can send the strings necessary via TCP to an iTach, so it is possible to build some gargantuan device type that would include all the commands you would want to execute for all your IR controlled gear. HAM Bridge just makes setting up and managing this stuff so much simpler. Plus it gives you the flexibility to call all of it from more places (Tasker, web browser, anything that can send an http ‘get’).

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Quick update on the official SmartThings/Harmony integration. It’s in general release and working well. This will allow control by ST of harmony, not just the other way around. :blush: The following topic discusses the official Harmony/ST integration:

You need to consider going to Harmony Hub based devices like the Ultimate which integrate to SmartThings.