REST Api - Wifi to IR - Remotes (TV, Home, AppleTv, Cable, etc)

Hi! Started to play a little bit more with my ST and thought due the amount of remotes have at home, and the difficult it is to have home theater, tv, apple tv, comcast, all stuff with different types of configuration, that something that would allow me to create some actions would be great.

Started to look for alternatives, and notice things as harmony, or wifi to IR bridges, which looks to me far from the ideal, and some of them quite expensive (~100usd).

Today just prototyped a simple circuit, with ultra bright IR leds, connected to my raspberry PI. Using LIRC, it is quite easy to control different types of remotes, as well as training new ones. But before starting doing that, just wanted to know your thoughts, as might be missing something already made.

Ideally, the project could be a really low-cost, high-quality, considering that:

1- Raspberry PI Zero + SD + Power adapter costs around 20usd;
2- Components to make the circuit would cost another 6usd;

And better than just creating it, we would have an opensource solution, REST based, that would allow us to configure different actions, such as:

WATCH COMCAST ( turn tv on, turn home theater on, select TV input, turn comcast on)
WATCH APPLE TV ( turn tv on, turn apple tv on, turn home theater on, select VIDEO input)

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

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I did go down that route i.e. Raspberry Pi + IR detector and emitter with LIRC and was able to learn IR codes and replay them to control my home theater devices. I wrote an Alexa skills handler to work with Amazon Echo to allow for voice control.
After this successful experimentation, I just ended up buying a Harmony Smart Control remote with a hub and just hooked up Smartthings and Amazon Echo to it. This was just easier to put together in the end. I just did not have the time to sit through and teach each and every command from all of my remotes and then do the coding to make it all easy to work with. Not to mention putting all of the HW in a case that my wife will not have a problem with sitting on a desk in the living room!


I feel like Harmony is the answer here. Yes, I can hook an IR xmitter to an ESP8266 and set it up to blast out commands via REST or MQTT or whatever, but honestly it’s not a particularly fun project and I’d still be missing the mobile applications and the huge database of AV codes. The Harmony Hub is reasonably priced and has all this stuff pre-cooked enough that I don’t feel it worth the time developing a cheaper (but less functional) alternative.

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@zraken looks good. The only downside I see is the overall cost of having a Harmony - remote around 100$ plus de hub cost.

@luma Don’t see as less functional - for sure there are a lot of things to do. LIRC has an extensive database of remote controls, and creating something to train new controls is not that complex, the same for the interface, which seems to be straightforward.

Now, my questions:
1- To have it working I need the HUB + remote control ?
2- Does it allow me to mix different commands ? Like mentioned in the post - turn tv on, home theater and tuning to input 1 ?

  1. The remote control is only required if you want a handheld remote. It doesn’t do IR, it simply sends RF commands to the hub which has several high-powered IR emitters and a couple jacks to add IR blasters. The hub alone is fully functional with a mobile app and with SmartThings integration, and there is an open-source tool to send device and activity commands from any other platform.

  2. Yes. The Harmony environment revolves around “Activities”. An activity has a set of devices and commands to power on/off the various devices in sequence. You can define your own sequences and attach them to buttons (if you have the handheld remote). The SmartThings integration is largely limited to these activities, so while you can have a button in SmartThings that will turn on everything for your Home Theater, it isn’t quite so easy to create a button in SmartThings to change the channel or adjust the volume - you’ll want the remote or the Harmony app for that. If you’re creative, the harmonyhubcontrol tool linked above can issue discrete device commands.

I got my hub+remote for $80, these go on sale about every couple of months. Also, like @luma pointed out you only really need the hub which I think goes for about $60.I am using this library for sending discrete device commands. Of course, this will need another device running the bridge code (Raspberry Pi will work great).

@zraken @luma one thing that is not clear is: Does the Harmony have direct integration with ST ? Or still need something in the middle to make it work ?

SmartThings can only start/stop activities. If you want to send individual commands (volume change, channel selection, etc) you need to either use the Harmony mobile app (which is nice and works well) or hack something together to send the commands manually (via ST or whatever else).

Take a look at Global Caches IP to IR product portfolio, the Itach Flex is particularly useful with a Blaster, 3 separate IR transmitters or a RS232 capability all off of one small form factor (note you can only run one of the options at any time).

The command libraries they already have are very extensive so no need to try and learn everyone of them individually. I havnt tried it with Smart things but I dont see any issues with it integrating.

NB Global Cache support was really good.