I just bought an iTach WiFi2IR device. This is a cool little box that reads wifi commands (tcp/ip) and sends out infrared. It also has some relays and things I’m not planning on using (except maybe with my camera).
Here’s the thing along with a provided IR blaster (and a quarter for sizing).
Specs of interest
- Industry standard 802.11b wireless interface, 2.5? antenna
- Supports wireless LAN, adhoc (for setup) and Infrastructure modes
- Compatible to 802.11b/g
- Power and all connectors to indicate activity
IR and Sensor Interface
- Connector: 3.5mm stereo jack
- 3 Independent selectable IR outputs or sensor inputs
- 3 IR emitters included
- 1 IR blaster included (supported on 3rd IR port)
- Aluminum extrusion case, rubber end caps and plastic face plates
- Dimensions (LxWxH): 3.25? x 2.25? x 1.25?
- Weight: 3.25 oz. (6 oz. with power supply)
The need for the device arises because all of my stereo/video equipment is behind a door that I like to keep closed. I currently have an old IR extender that requires that I sit within 3 feet of the extender (which is at the front of the room) so I always look stupid and reach way out and wave the remote at the extender then click until it takes [which can take a while].
I plan to write an Android application so that I can use a phone or tablet to use this thing and thus control my a/v equipment. I have a hardwire IP connection into that room if I want, but this is convenient.
It’s tiny, but it still provides three different IR extender outputs, one of which can run an IR blaster. An extender is something you stick over an IR receiver – low power and doesn’t interfere with other equipment. A blaster sends out to the room. Here’s an IR extender – I assume you remove the sticky stuff covering and stick it on a piece of equipment.
It also has an IR learner (receiver) built in.
The doc seems to indicate that you can blast out to all three outputs simultaneously. This is pretty cool with IR extenders. I’m considering just using the IR blaster, though.
I took it apart (of course) and here are top and bottom views of the board. The construction is good – the board/front slides into a 3-sided aluminum case with end-caps screwed on. The components are good as well. It uses a Microchip wifi embedded device with a serious PIC controller to do the IR/Relay and sensing.
The board layout seems pretty good. Soldering was top-quality imho. I’ve seen lots worse. Here the parts were all well aligned and solder joints uniform. No signs of last minute hand-soldering, either. Overall, one of the better-made pieces of hardware I’ve seen.
The documentation is a bit light, but the company gets credit for publishing the tcp/ip API and protocol. I wish more companies would do that.
They provide 3 windows applications. iHelp finds the iTach if it can and lets you upgrade the firmware. iLearn reads a remote pointed at the iTach. iTest lets you send commands to the iTach and read results. They’re all pretty simple and have the quality and feature set you’d expect from a small company.
Setup was interesting. You need a wifi-capable device. I didn’t try my Xoom but it would probably work. I used a standard Windows laptop which connects to the iTach ok and then (correctly) fails at DHCP. The iChache defaults to an IP from the not-found (169.254.) network to have the iTach usable without having it serve DHCP.
Setup Method -
- From your laptop, connect to the iTach wireless network (it’s viewable as a connectable device).
- Wait for your laptop to fail at dhcp. You can check your IP address and it will eventually be in the 169.254 subnet instead of 0.0.0.0.
- Browse to http://169.254.1.70 (the iTach device)
- Configure the iTach’s wireless network connection. This is done manually, but it does have support for WPA and does let you pick the server.
- Let the iTach reboot
- Connect your laptop to your normal network. Now iHelp, iLearn, … should all work.
I’ve started hooking it up to my android phone. The learn chunk was pretty simple and I expect sending commands to be even simpler. The api is neat and clean. Learning a code from a remote is tedious because the sensitivity/hole/? takes real practice to get just right, otherwise you sit there furiously clicking your remote to no avail. My WD remote has to be shoved so the center-front, where the IR LED is, touches the IR reader hole before it will work consistently. It does produce really good results – or at least in testing with two remotes I got very consistent and apparently accurate learn-results. And, once you get used to it, the sensitivity is ok (not great).
More in phase 2.
- Why do my calls go straight to voice mail?
- Comments on Windows Phone
- Comments on Microsoft Surface RT
- Comments on Windows 8
- Whither Home Automation
- The iTach WiFi2IR Review and Use
- I love my Nook Color
- Microsoft Expression Blend Sucks
- AutoHome Software – Insteon Setup
- Setting up the home automation software
- CES and Zigbee Home Automation
- Antennas and the iPhone4