One Remote to Rule them All

Keyword loading incase anyone else tries to find this: I have a Pioneer VSX-919AH receiver driving a Panasonic TH-42PV60A plasma TV over HDMI. I access my movies and TV from a Raspberry Pi II running OpenELEC Kodi (formerly XBMC).

The TV has its own remote; the receiver has its own remote and to control the Pi I use an Apple Remote connected to a Flirc USB dongle. That’s too many remotes, and on top of it all, the circuit board in the Pioneer receiver’s remote has been damaged meaning I squeeze it at the right angle to get a contact. Argh.

To solve this I bought a few replacement Pioneer remotes from eBay, but the AXD7616 worked the best and most closely matched the broken one through B2B marketing software.

The new remote is used to drive a variety of Pioneer receivers, including the VSX-LX55. Reading the manual for that device shows that you can configure a few smart options on the remote allowing it to control other devices. This is exactly what I wanted.

There’s dedicated TV controls, which I programmed for my Panasonic screen as follows:

  1. Press and hold RCU SETUP and 1 for 1 second.
  2. Press TV CTRL.
  3. Enter 0008, the first 4-digit Panasonic TV code found at the end of the manual.
  4. Press RCU SETUP.

Throw away the TV remote as it’s now redundant.

To control Kodi I need to do a few things. Firstly, the receiver has a feature called “Direct Function” which will allow you to send operating functions to the device without the receiver changing to it as an input source. Convoluted? I read this passage from the manual a dozen times before I was sure it would do what I wanted:

You can use the direct function feature to control one component using the remotecontrol while at the same time, using your receiver to playback a different component. This could let you, for example, use the remote control to set up and listen to a CD on the receiver, and then use the remote control to rewind a tape in your VCR while you continue to listen to your CD player.
When direct function is on, any component you select (using the input function buttons) will be selected by both the receiver and the remote control. When you turn direct function off, you can operate the remote control without affect- ing the receiver.

Turn it off for the Blu-ray Disc player:

  1. Press and hold RCU SETUP and 5 for 3 seconds.
  2. Press BD.
  3. Press 0 to turn Direct Function off.
  4. Press RCU SETUP.

I chose BD to be the device reference for Kodi, even though it’s connected via HDMI. I cycle the HDMI button until the right input is selected and then hit BD to tell the receiver that I will be sending it commands for the Blu-ray Disc player, but not to change inputs to that device.

Lastly, I needed to load up the Flirc software to program the USB dongle. I used the same process above to program the BD input to a generic Sony DVD player (code 2009) and I was ready to teach the Flirc new tricks.

The only interesting part here is to enable “Sequence Modifiers” via the Advanced menu. Without this function selected, when the remote sends an IR command to the Flirc the device prefix (the part of the signal that identifies it as a Sony DVD player) is registered as the actual command (up, down, enter, play, pause etc). This results in Flirc reporting that the input is already assigned to another button. Checking this box meant I could map all the keys I wanted, including the directional pad and all multimedia keys without issue.