If you’ve hidden your audio-visual equipment away somewhere out of sight (in a tasteful cabinet, for example, or even in a completely different room) then the chances are you’re going to have a problem controlling it. This problem is caused by the fact that most audio-visual equipment uses infra-red light to receive instructions from its remote control. If you think of your remote control as a torch then you need to be able to shine the torch at your audio-visual equipment in order to get it to work. Obviously you can’t do that if there is a cabinet door, or a wall, or a ceiling in the way!
Option 1: Use your existing remote control(s) with a remote control extender
A remote control extender is a relatively simple device. It receives an infra-red signal from a remote control and then transmits that signal somewhere else.
It generally has three main elements:
- An infra-red receiver – which receives the signal from your remote control.
- An infra-red emitter – which transmits the signal received by the infra-red receiver to the audio-visual equipment you want to control.
- An electronics module – which processes the signal received by infra-red receiver and transmits it to the infra-red emitter.
A remote control extender is more-or-less ‘plug-and-play’. The basic installation and setup steps for a basic remote control extender are typically as follows:
- Place the infra-red receiver somewhere where you can point your remote control remote control at it.
- Place the infra-red emitter in front of the audio-visual device you want to control.
- Connect the infra-red receiver and the infra-red transmitter to the electronics module.
- Provide electrical power.
- Operate your remote control whilst pointed at the infra-red receiver. (The infra-red emitter will relay the control signal to your equipment.)
Option 2: Use your smartphone or tablet as a remote control
For many of us, our smartphone or tablet has become a device that is fundamental to the way we live our lives; it is very rarely far from our hands and we tend to panic when we can’t immediately find it. It is now possible to install an app on your smartphone or tablet so that you can use it as a remote control for your audio-visual equipment (from virtually anywhere in the world).
Using your smartphone or tablet to control your audio-visual equipment is a bit more complicated than using an existing remote control, but there are similarites. The way we’re going too proceed is in two distinct phases:
- Connect the devices you want to control to your home computer network.
- Install an app on your smartphone or tablet and configure it to control your devices.
If the devices you want to control are already equipped with a network connection and come with their own app then you are pretty much ‘good to go’.
If not, then we’re going to need a network adapter of some type to connect the devices you want to control to your home computer network, and an associated app for your smartphone or tablet.