4 Tips for Controlling Your Remote


Universal Remote Control - MX-3000.

From toggle codes to managing macros, today's remote control can be anything but simple. Here are a few tips to help you stay in control.

Dec. 07, 2007 — by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Flipping through product manuals can be boring and a strain on your eyes. Getting ahold of customer service can make you swear at automated voices. From basic to complex A/V, we want to help. That’s why we’re tapping into manufacturers and installers to give you some Pro Tips each month. First off: the universal remote control. Troubleshooting tip number one: Throwing it on the floor doesn’t help. Here, Universal Remote Control’s (URC’s) national manager of technical support, Joseph Salvatore, guides us through some remote control FAQs.

Which remote control should I buy? If you’re not going to have a professional electronics installer program your remote control, the three most important things to consider when purchasing a universal remote are ease of use, compatibility and product support. Where ease of use is concerned, don’t overlook things like backlit buttons and keyboard layout. Keep in mind which family members will be using the remote, too.

All right, I’ve bought my remote. Now how do I start programming? First, gather all the model numbers of all the components in your system. Then read—okay, at least skim—the owner’s manual. Then you can start identifying a code match for each component to create automated functions, such as macros and favorite channel buttons. Some remotes (URC’s R70, for example) include quick-start setup software that automates programming and lets you search a built-in code library without an Internet connection. Others guide you through the process with online setup wizards. Also, know your components! Eliminate any functions you know you will never use in order to keep a clean interface that’s effortless to navigate.

What are macros, and what are some tips to setting them up? Macros are a string of commands that you can create to accomplish more complex actions by pressing just one button. The procedure for programming a macro is generally the same whether you’re using a PC-programmable remote or one that programs manually: Identify which button you wish to designate as a macro, and then navigate to that button through the macro setup mode. After that, you can select each device’s power on command, saving at the end and testing it out.

Before you start programming macro functions, always test all of your IR commands for each A/V component. Experiment with the order of commands in your macros to see what works best. Some components require a certain amount of time to warm up before they accept any other information. Time those intervals, and set the appropriate order for your sequence.

When I hit my macro button, everything turns on except the TV, which turns off. What gives? We’re continuously asked, “What’s a toggle code?” Toggle code automation is one of the most frequent programming concerns. For example, let’s say you have only one button for power that toggles between the on and off state of a TV. You then implant that command into a macro along with your other devices’ power commands. If the TV doesn’t receive the information properly for some reason, everything else will be powered on except for the TV. Then, if you hit that macro again, everything will turn off and the TV will turn on. Since the state of a component can be easily thrown out of sync, remotes have technology (like the R70’s “help” feature) to help users reconfigure the setup by simply pointing to the out-of-sync device.

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