Monthly Archives: March 2015

FLIRC Review


FLIRC is an IR (Infra Red) remote control receiver, intended for use on a computer to control media center software using your own preferred remote control.

I recently received the FLIRC I ordered direct from the developer’s website.  It took a week for it to ship, and then 2 weeks to receive by mail.  I already own and use 2 USB-UIRT received/transmitters for controlling my media center style computers, but I heard about the FLIRC and decided to give it a try on a 3rd computer, instead of the USB-UIRT.

Overall I’m very disappointed with the FLIRC.  It was no where near as easy to set up and use as was implied, or expected after reading about it.  I downloaded the most recent version of the software (v.1.3.6).  It appears very slick, user friendly and straight forward.  But it comes with no instructions, and minimal instructions on the website.  So that lead me to assume it must be exceptionally easy to use.  Though I ran in to multiple issues that required my time to search for answers.  Something that could have been avoided with a proper instruction and trouble shooting guide.

In my case I had issues with having to record each button of the remote twice.  Apparently some remotes require this when using it with FLIRC.  In my experience this has never been an issue with using the USB-UIRT with the same remote.  So after spending time searching for the answer to this, it turns out to be a common issue that may happen with some remotes with FLIRC.  So I learned I had to program each button twice. 

I had issues with the FLIRC no longer working after being unplugged and plugged back in, in some cases.  Programming it on one computer, plugging it into another computer where I wanted to use it, and finding it stopped working.  So I had to go back and reinstall the FLIRC firmware and try again.  This happened numerous times.  Apparently this is a known issue that sometimes happens, but the website says only when the power goes out.  What about when it is unplugged, wouldn’t that be the same as the power going out? After all it is a USB device, which implies it should be able to be plugged and unplugged whenever needed, and work as expected.

Remember I mentioned that some remotes require you to program the buttons twice?  Well I had occasions where after programming and testing that all the buttons were double programmed on one computer, then plugging it into a second computer, that this stopped working.  Meaning that every second button press was blank again on some select buttons.

There are bugs in the FLIRC programming app on Windows.  There is an Advanced setting called “Inter-Key Delay”.  This setting would randomly change on me, and would often change on the drop down menu to blank, not the 1 to 6 setting I left it on.  Also when reprogramming a remote button, it will warn you that it is already recorded, and offer a “Redo” option, but redo doesn’t seem to work, you have to erase the button manually (twice in my remote’s case) and then record it again.  Not very friendly.

I use my USB-UIRT’s with a program called EventGhost, which has a bit of a learning curve, but once familiar with it, it’s a fantastic app.  FLIRC did not work well for me with the keyboard plug-in in EventGhost.  I’m not sure it this was an issue with the EventGhost keyboard plug-in, or issues with FLIRC and how it simulates key presses.  But I can say that USB-UIRT works perfectly with EventGhost.

From the reading I did about FLIRC, I was lead to believe it worked as a regular Windows HID device.  Meaning it would appear and work as a normal USB keyboard, or simulated USB keyboard, without drivers.  What I found was that this wasn’t exactly the case.  Sometimes when you plug it into a Windows computer it will ask for the drivers install location.  No USB keyboard will do this.  Sometimes it worked without installing the drivers, sometimes it didn’t.  Was this due to the drivers not being installed, or due to the previous mention of needing the firmware reinstalled after being unplugged, hard to say.  But installing the drivers keeps Windows from complaining that the FLIRC device has missing drivers.

I thought I’d save a few bucks and use this FLIRC device instead of a USB-UIRT as I had in the past.  Since the FLIRC is cheaper than the USB-UIRT.  But I’m disappointed to the point of sticking FLIRC in a drawer for some future project where it might be “good enough”.  But I’m definitely sorry I wasted my money.

I think in some select cases the FLIRC will work well enough.  Like with a remote that it doesn’t need to record keys twice.  Where you won’t need to use it with any app other than ones it’s known to be compatible with.  Maybe after the bugs are fixed in the recording app.  And if you never plan to remove it from the USB jack after you get it working, and hope the power doesn’t cycle,  Or wait for some future firmware and software version that works far better. 

If you are a techy person, and you simply want your media center computer to work with an IR remote after you set it up, buy yourself a USB-UIRT, use EventGhost, and not waste several hours hoping for the best with FLIRC as I did.


SageTV To Make a Come Back


I’ve mentioned SageTV in my blog a number of times, and how it was the best DIY software for turning your own computer into a custom DVR.  Then Google purchased the company and turned it into the set top box (STB) software for their Google Fibre project in Kansas City.

I’m still using SageTV on a daily basis as my main DVR, as Google never did turn off the TV guide data.  But unfortunately, I had to move some play back functionality to XBMC Media Center now named Kodi.  As a side note, I still like to say XBMC, as “Kodi” is the gayest name ever for any product.  No self respecting gay guy would spell his name with a “K” and an “I”, unless he was a drag queen.  They went from XBMC, a strong, masculine, technical sounding name that roles off your tongue, to the name of a drag queen.  I like drag queens just fine.  But I would never name a software product after one.  But I digress.

A few days ago, the founder of SageTV announced on the SageTV forum that Google is planning to open source SageTV in the near future.  This is quite a surprise and uncharacteristic of Google.  Google is well known for killing products off with little to no notice.  For Google to not only leave the TV guide data available to past license owners like myself, and now to open source and release a slightly updated version is quite a treat.

I for one look forward to this day, and to see how many of the past dedicated add-on developers will come back to expand the product.  I have a good feeling that SageTV will do well and make a strong come back!

You can read more at liliputing and the SageTV forum.