Part 4: Remote Control Setup
In this section we will look at three alternative ways to control XBMC, allowing you to hide the keyboard and mouse from sight altogether.
1. Control XBMC using your TV remote
Purchasing a Pulse Eight HDMI-CEC (Consumer Electronics Control) will allow you to use XBMC with your existing TV remote control in the same way you would expect to use Sony BRAVIA Sync, Panasonic VIERA Link, Samsung Anynet+ or whatever other name you might know it by. All you need is one of these tiny devices and the libCEC package with is included as part of the Pulse Eight XBMC for Ubuntu PVR build and the latest build of OpenElec.
The device itself costs £30 and can be purchased from the Pulse Eight website. The FAQ will answer most ‘setup’ questions in the absence of any documentation with the device.
First make sure you have the device connected by HDMI to your TV’s primary control port (HDMI 1 usually) and the other HDMI socket connected to your Revo’s HDMI port. Alternatively connect the device to your home cinema receiver. Make sure the USB port is connected to the Revo. In XBMCbuntu verify the libCEC package is installed via Package Manager. Next open up XBMC and go to System -> Input -> Peripherals -> Pulse-Eight CEC Adapter. Here you should configure your device and change the HDMI port number to the HDMI port used on your TV. You may need to tinker with the settings but for most this should suffice. Pick up your TV remote and try your navigation buttons.
2. Control XBMC using your Mobile Device (IOS/Android)
You might also want to try using one of the iPhone or iPod apps that connect using WiFi and your home network. There are plenty of them available on the App Store, some of which are free. Choose one that meets your needs.
I use the official XBMC remote for IOS on my apple device. It has many advantages, including Air Play (which we will come to later), visual display of all your Movie, TV and Music metadata, far better ease of navigation and it looks awesome. Comparing a standard TV remote to the digital touch screen display of the apple device is like comparing Betamax to Blu-ray.
Be sure to enable remote access in the settings, and also allow control via HTTP.
System > Services > Webserver. Enable ‘Allow Control of XBMC via HTTP’. Set a username and password and select a web interface. I prefer AWXi, you can download it via the Web Interface > Get More option.
Enabling the following services will allow you to push content from your apple devices using Airplay to XBMC, which means when you have friends around they can share content via their device straight to your XBMC home theatre and play it on the big screen TV. (Call it magic, computer voodoo, whatever – it’s great).
System > Services > Zeroconf. Enable ‘Announce these services to other systems via Zeroconf’
System > Services > Airplay. Enable ‘Allow XBMC to receive Airplay content’
3. Control XBMC using a Windows Media Centre Remote
This option was my preferred choice, but it wasn’t easy and took a great deal of time, research and patience. If you want to get your Acer Revo RL70 remote working with XBMCbuntu/OpenElec follow these steps. I haven’t tried other media centre remote’s but there is quite a lot of documentation on the internet about confirmed compatibility so it would seem others have had more success.
I won’t take any credit for this, it was posted on the OpenElec message boards by Tepesch. Thank you Tepesch, great work! All i have done is expand on how to create the keymap file using SSH and nano, hopefully making it easier for less experienced readers to follow. Please note this won’t work if you create the file using notepad on windows and then copy it to the Revo using FTP, i made that mistake and it took me a while to realise.
Step 1. Create a new key map file using nano.
Your going to need to SSH into your OpenElec box, the easiest way to do this is to download a free utility called PuTTY. Open PuTTY and enter the IP address of your OpenElec box in the Host name input box, use port 22 where it asks for the port number, and select the ‘SSH’ connection option. Then click open. When prompted for a login, enter ‘root’ and press enter. When prompted for a password type ‘openelec’ and press enter.
Type the following command and press enter.
Step 2. Enter the following key mapping:
Copy the text below, paste it into the nano screen. To paste text in nano simply click the right mouse button in the PuTTY window.
# table rc-rc6-mce, type: RC-6 0x806e040c KEY_POWER 0x806e040d KEY_MUTE 0x806e0410 KEY_VOLUMEUP 0x806e0411 KEY_VOLUMEDOWN 0x806e041e KEY_CHANNELUP 0x806e041f KEY_CHANNELDOWN 0x806e0420 KEY_NEXT 0x806e0421 KEY_PREVIOUS 0x806e0428 KEY_FASTFORWARD 0x806e0429 KEY_REWIND 0x806e042e KEY_TV 0x806e042f KEY_SUBTITLE 0x806e0431 KEY_STOP 0x806e0437 KEY_RECORD 0x806e043e KEY_EPG 0x806e0458 KEY_UP 0x806e0459 KEY_DOWN 0x806e045a KEY_LEFT 0x806e045b KEY_RIGHT 0x806e045c KEY_OK 0x806e045d KEY_START 0x806e046d KEY_RED 0x806e046e KEY_GREEN 0x806e046f KEY_YELLOW 0x806e0470 KEY_BLUE 0x806e0483 KEY_BACK 0x806e0493 KEY_PLAYPAUSE 0x806e049b KEY_PVR #0x806e04a9 Green Media Player Button 0x806e04aa KEY_MENU #0x806e04ab Search 0x806e04cb KEY_INFO
Step 3. Save the new keymap file.
To save the file hold down CTRL and press ‘O’. Then exit the nano screen by holding CTRL and ‘X’
Step 4. Create a new auto-start file
As before using nano create a new file named ‘/storage/.config/autostart.sh’ and paste the following contents. Refer to the steps above is you get stuck, it’s the same process as before.
#!/bin/sh ir-keytable -s rc0 -c -p RC5,RC6 -w /storage/.config/rc-rc6-mce
Step 5. Restart XBMC.
If you disable “Deep Power Off Mode” under the “Power” menu in the BIOS, you should be able to use the remote control to power on the RL-70.
That hopefully should give everyone enough choice to control XBMC however they desire, finding the right controller is fundamental in designing a great HTPC with an intuitive user interface and remote control.