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
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:
- Move the "Fire Zephir Command" OSAX into the Scripting Additions folder
(note different locations between Mac OS 8 and earlier)
- Move the files "ZephIR! codes" and "ZephIR! prefs" to the Preferences folder
(in the System Folder)
- Move the ZephIR! application to anywhere on your hard disk.
- Power OFF the Mac (ok, don't, but suit your own sensitivities...)
- Connect the ZephIR cable into your ADB or USB.
- Power up the Mac
- The ZephIR is now installed
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
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:
- Hold the remote control at least 6 inches from the ZephIR while learning
- Punch the red ball button to start recording
(the red LED on the Zephir turns ON)
- Press the appropriate button on the 'remote'
- The red LED goes out
- This must happen 3 times (default)
- The red button control in the lower right controls the number of times
that you must do this...
- After the learning sequence, you must click once on the 'trim' button
(this trims the saved signal into one complete 'command')
- Then, you must move the 'slider' until the signal is 'shaped'
(this is confusing, but the manual does give a good example)
(I found that I could do 'too much'.)
- DO always 'test' the command by pointing the ZephIR at the TV (etc),
pushing the 'Transmit' or test button.
(the original software requires this or it doesn't 'save'...)
- Naming things is a pain. But later software revisions will change this.
(you end up doing this a lot before a component is 'soup')
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.
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
Copyright 2007, Sand Hill Engineering All rights reserved.
Last modified: May 3, 2003
Michael Ferguson, firstname.lastname@example.org