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Easy home theater control !

You've got your XTension home automation system just right, and now you want to be able to control all of those TV, VCR, CD and satellite receivers ?

We have seen other products that connected to the Mac and offered InfraRed control, but none have gotten it right until the ZephIR.

UPDATE !!! The ZephIR is now available for the USB !!!

The ZephIR is basically a midget 'smart' infrared controller, just like your home theater remote controls, only it has no buttons.

It has one cable that attaches to the ADB or USB, and requires no external power !

It can 'learn' infrared commands, but it cannot normally be used as an infrared receiver. You cannot send it commands from your TV/VCR remote.

But don't forget that you can always send 'learned' X-10 commands from your TV/VCR 'smart' remotes to the InfraRed-to-X10 transceiver...

Setting up the ZephIR

The ZephIR comes with an installer, but basically this is what must happen:

Setting up Components and Commands

I won't go into all of the other features of the ZephIR software, but you certainly will want to look at all of the features for managing your CD collection, and setting up on-screen 'remotes'.

The most important part of this tutorial is to show how to use the ZephIR with your XTension system...

Using the included software, you can 'learn' the commands from all of your IR remotes, and save them on your Mac as neatly organized 'components' and 'commands'.

Follow the instructions given in the manual (on screen), and you will be able to create new 'components' (or import them from the web !), and then 'learn' the commands from that component's IR remote.

It's not exactly intuitive immediately, but the best clues I can give are:

The easiest part: Using the ZephIR with XTension

Once you have set up all of your components and their commands, you need to set up some scripts in XTension (and some 'speakable items' if you wish).

There is only one AppleScript 'verb' that the ZephIR provides. You tell it which 'command' you want to send to which 'component', and that's it.

fire zephir command "2" of component "DSS"

Of course, you may need to send several commands in a row, and that is the hard part. YOU must create the scripts that perform the sequences that you need for any particular circumstance.

I'm sure that it won't be long before there is a large collection of scripts and component/commands, and no doubt some will contribute entire 'systems'. But all of them will use the same basic ZephIR 'verbs', and this is really simple.

Other Thoughts

There are a few things that you will discover by yourself, but the first that you will see is that the suction cup won't stick to just any surface. (My hands automatically point the 'end' of the unit rather than the 'side' at the component because it feels like a little remote ...)

But that's what the little 'sticky labels' are for. These look worthless at first, but when you finally decide where you want to stick the suction cup, you can first stick one of these and then put the suction cup on that. You also might want to use some glycerine or silicone grease. You could also use some 'Velcro'...

The thing I like most: That the InfraRed transmitter can send at least 15 feet from my Mac to the home theater console. If you need greater coverage, then consider one of the InfraRed repeaters (Pyramid ?).

Things to Come

I believe that the ZephIR is just right for Mac home automation, and finally closes a big hole in the XTension family.

We have weather stations, the ADB I/O, X-10, the Weeder product(s), wireless speakers, speech recognition, and now InfraRed control.

With so many new home products coming out with infrared control, there's no end to the things that you can integrate into your XTension system.

Now if we only had the time to put it all together :-)

Back to the Tutorials


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Mac Made

Last modified: May 3, 2003
Michael Ferguson, webmaster@shed.com