Help with RF Remote

A remote expert steps up with professional suggestions.


Mark wrote to Ask-a-Pro:

I’ve wired, installed and configured everything in my house myself. I have a Harmony 890 RF remote that I use to control…well…just about everything in my house. I have my main system rack in the basement utility room. It feeds a family room home theater on the 1st floor, video distribution to 2 other TV’s in other rooms of the house and distributed audio in some of the rooms of the house. I’ve already tried working with Harmony tech support for half a day on this but still have not resolved the issue.

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The issue is that often, the remote seems to send a command more than once. This is most notable on navigating screens on two pieces of equipment in particular. For instance:I have a Sony 400 disk Blu-Ray DVD player. I’ll try scrolling through the list of DVDs on screen. If I hit the up or down arrow, instead of moving up or down just once, it will skip 2-4 DVDs. The same is true on my media server. While browsing my music, the same thing can happen. Strangely enough, I have found specific places and positions in the house where it works flawlessly.

I was wondering if you might have any other thoughts about the technology itself that my give me a hint as to why this may happen. Are there other control systems that can guarantee flawless operation?

Thanks in advance,

Joe Salvatore of URC, offers this advice:

Joe Salvatore, tech support manager at URC (i.e., not Logitech) here. The symptoms you’re describing sound as if there may be Radio Frequency interference (RFI) present. This interference can be due to any number of things, from local broadcast transmissions to AC wiring in your home. No control manufacturer that uses RF communication technology can dodge this problem if the interference is around the same frequency at which their technology operates.

Some things to consider when trying to identify, prevent or cure potential sources of RFI are the home environment, the geographic area you live in, and even your own AV gear itself. Any single one of these, or any combination of them, can be responsible for RFI.

Here are a couple of quick suggestions to try that may help determine what the source of interference may be. Try to move the Harmony RF receiver as far away from the main system rack as possible, while leaving the emitters intact. If things improve from there, it’s probably the AV gear that’s causing the RFI.

If you have the power supply for the Harmony RF receiver plugged directly into a wall outlet, try plugging it into a surge suppressor. This will rule out the AC power line-inducing RFI.

On the other hand, if you notice that the remote duplicates commands only at specific times of the day, the interference could be coming from outside your home, or from other electronic devices that are active only at certain times of the day.

In the long run, the best way to completely avoid RFI is to consider upgrading your control system to an IP-based solution (like our brand-new Total Control system). Although it will be more costly, it will 100% guarantee flawless control, with no RFI.

Hope this helps, Mark!
Joe Salvatore
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