A Simple TV Remote with an ALL-ON Button?

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A Simple TV Remote with an ALL-ON Button?

Post by fine-tune » Wed Oct 21, 2009 1:04 pm

Even if you're not a Comcast customer, you may have
read about the "hell on earth" they have created for
most of their customers. Remember those commercials
before the transition to all digital broadcasting? The
cable industry was boasting about how, as their customer,
you won't have to make any changes to your TVs.


The Comcast distribution centers have folks lined up around
the block, waiting to pickup new converter boxes and DTAs,
or digital transport adapters. Without these new boxes you are
blocked from viewing many basic cable channels.

My elderly mother now has a new converter box. The remote
is at least 12 inches long, with several dozen tiny buttons and
microscopic fonts! She is accustom to a simple remote with
normal size buttons. The conveter box has a switched outlet.
Her new remote has an ALL-ON button. Without this button,
your TV is not slaved to the converter box. She tried using
a simple universal remote which forces you to press the CBL
button to operate the converter, or the TV button to turn the
TV on and off. This may not seem like a difficult problem
if you are young and healthy. Try to imagine coping with this
situation if you are old and your hands don't work like they
used to.

I can't find a simple universal remote that will operate her
converter box and TV with one button. I've looked in several
local stores, but I haven't searched the web.

My mother has trouble walking, so TV is very important to
her. If you can help me find a simple remote with this added
feature, it would be greatly appreciated.

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Re: A Simple TV Remote with an ALL-ON Button?

Post by MrAl » Wed Oct 21, 2009 1:51 pm


They do have some universal remotes that seem to do everything but they are also priced
like that too...maybe 100 bucks for one.

If you can not find anything else, it is possible to build one yourself if you can work with
electronic parts. You basically start by reading the old remote to determine what codes
you need, then use a micro controller to drive a transistor that drives an IR LED that
sends the signals to the boxes. It takes a bit of doing but hey it works.
You also need to build a keypad, and in doing so you can space the buttons as far
apart as you like and you can also use buttons as large as you like. You may even
be able to use an old remote that is known to work the way he/she likes it to work,
and mimic the buttons on the new custom remote. It's a bit easier to make your
own keypad though and only takes some patience in wiring it up.
It's not that easy to construct this kind of thing though so you should probably look
for a universal remote on the web first.
LEDs vs Bulbs, LEDs are winning.

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Re: A Simple TV Remote with an ALL-ON Button?

Post by fripster » Wed Oct 21, 2009 4:24 pm

why not use a LogiTech Harmony remote. That one is programmable and can do sequences for you, like starting up all machines at the touch of one button...

just my two cents :grin:

Once a WireHead, Always a WireHead

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Re: A Simple TV Remote with an ALL-ON Button?

Post by haklesup » Wed Oct 21, 2009 6:11 pm

I only turn off the TV and leave the cable box on full time. It uses just as much power when off than when it's on. Theres no point to turning it off. I have the HD DVR box and its just as noisy when off too (not loud but you can hear the HDD churning), its still quieter than my PC.

Just forget the all on button, it gets out of synch easily especially if the TV and cable box aren't in the same line of sight. Now if you're using an AV amplifier, you'll want to turn that off.

Another thing Comcast did is move all the channels off the normal numbers so you can't use a TV without a cable box to watch shows from their wire. Well you can but you need a wall sized chart to find the channel number each channel is on and you still only can find what would otherwise be OTA plus some cable stations, its hit or miss. I guess they don't want you tuning a sling box to play their programming over the internet.

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Re: A Simple TV Remote with an ALL-ON Button?

Post by Janitor Tzap » Wed Oct 21, 2009 6:46 pm

Yeah, I hear what your saying Fine-Tune.

I did some digging on the medical supply sites, and came up with this.
http://www.allegromedical.com/daily-liv ... 15242.html

I think MrAl is right in that, it may cost quite a few bucks to get a remote that will shut off both the TV&Cable box at the same time.

On the older Cable Boxes, they had the switched power jack that you could plug the TV into.
So you setup the TV in a "Turned On State" and channel set to 3 or 4.
Thus, when you turned on the Cable Box, it turned on the TV as well.

That would be the easiest thing to do, if Comcast makes such a box available.

Signed: Janitor Tzap

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Re: A Simple TV Remote with an ALL-ON Button?

Post by fine-tune » Wed Oct 21, 2009 9:27 pm

I'll tell you something guys, I'm not thinking clearly about anything
these days. I feel like a "Flying Dutchmen" who is doomed to keep
repeating the same awful scenarios over and over again.

You are 100% correct haklesup. The converter box can be left
on or turned off. You're not going to save energy or prolong its
life unless you pull the plug, which is definitely not a good idea!

My parents were the best when I was a kid. When I'm visiting
my mother's home all logic and reason go out the window. If
my mother asked me if we could visit the moon, I think would
say, "sure, when do want to go?"

I visited Comcast twice to get these new boxes. I had to go
back because one of the DTAs was defective. The employees
are behind thick bulletproof glass. There is a glass box with
a door on either side. They open the door on their side and
put the converters and DTAs in the box. Only when they close
their door can you open the one on your side of the box.

The customers waiting in line all look really upset. You hear a lot
of cursing. Everyone was talking about switching to those rooftop
dishes. I see Dish Network and DirectTV trucks all over the place.
Maybe Comcast will lose a few thousand angry customers. It won't
effect their bottom line at all. They will continue to make a fortune
from their broadband services.

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Re: A Simple TV Remote with an ALL-ON Button?

Post by CeaSaR » Wed Oct 21, 2009 10:25 pm

The Comcast DTA's in our area have very basic remotes that turn the TV and cable box on
sequentially, and the same remote automatically uses the DTA for channels and the TV for
volume. I don't know how your (mom's) remote works. I'll see if I can get you a link tomorrow.

Hey, what do I know?

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Re: A Simple TV Remote with an ALL-ON Button?

Post by haklesup » Thu Oct 22, 2009 10:33 am

Wow, tough neighborhood. My comcast office is nothing like that. No security features and typically only 1-3 customers in the store at any given time for two clearks. Though I usually do see at least one irate customer who is angry because his promotional rate just expired and they're feeling the pain from that shaft they stick in you.

All Comcast remotes I have ever seen are programmable in that the all on button is programmed to turn on or off the TV and box sequencially as CaeSaR pointed out. You'll probably get better service over the phone for help programming the remote than in the store. Most remotes also have a mode where the channel selector controls the box and the volume controls the TV. Like most remotes you need to know the code for your set. If you didn't get an instruction pamphlet with the remote you'll have to call for support or it might be on the website.

<start rant>Comcast isn't happy until they get you on their home phone contract as well. There hasn't been a promotion for existing customers except the triple play upgrade for over 2 years. When an existing customer does sign up for a promotion, when that promo ends the new regular rates are typically higher than the regular rates they paid before signing up for the promotion. Frankly in earthquake country here, I think its important to not have all your communications tied up with one wire. If the cable (broadband) and cellular networks get knocked out, all that's left is the landline. <end rant>

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Re: A Simple TV Remote with an ALL-ON Button?

Post by Jim Barrett » Wed Oct 28, 2009 4:46 am

Good Day Folks,
Not as hard a problem as it might seem.
Sony makes a remote control, RM-VL600 that runs about $25-$30. Sony claims that it has an extensive code library and is fully set-up and compatable w/ Sony equipment.
Not true on both accounts but it is very programmable and as long as you're willing to read the instructions and learn the logic of the device you can make it do almost anything.
Admittedly it has a lot of buttons but again, it has a logic to it that when learned is very....logical.
I buy them @ Best Buy, use the original remotes to program the Sony then take the batteries out of the original remotes and store them away.

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Re: A Simple TV Remote with an ALL-ON Button?

Post by fine-tune » Sat Nov 07, 2009 4:14 pm

(I was going to start a new thread for this post, but I guess
it belongs here. I want to clarify the differences between a
basic universal remote and a learning remote.)

Basic universal remotes store a finite library of codes.
For several years I had an oddball 9" TV. I remember
trying and returning four of these remotes, before finding
one that would control this little TV.

Comcast contracted with a company called Pace to produce
a one-of-a-kind gizmo called a DTA or Digital Transport
Adapter. It comes with a truly awful remote. The bottom
end is pointed, and you can't see the buttons at all in a
dimly lit room.

Universal remotes rely on the on-off button to find the code
for a converter box, TV, etc. DTAs are plugged in and that's
it. They stay on forever. No on-off switch.

I've seen some learning remotes that look like shrunk down
netbooks. Expensive and complicated! This afternoon I
found a $16.00 remote in Sears that is labeled a learning

Before I do a Google search, let me embarrass myself by trying
to guess how these learning remotes work. You aim the NIR or
Near Infrared LED in a working remote at the learning remote.
When you press the channel or volume buttons in the working
remote, the learning remote detects the pulses which are stored
as a code. Not clever enough for you? OK, here comes guess
number two. The learning remote is aimed at the device you want
to control. A random number generator tries millions of different
binary numbers, until the detector in the device responds. This
"brute force" technique has been used successfully for many
years to crack passwords.

What I really want to know is, should I try this cheap learning
remote I found in Sears? I think it was a Philips. I'd like to
quit using this crappy Comcast remote. What I like about
this Philips remote is backlighted buttons that are easy to press.
Also, it's the least complex of all the learning remotes I've

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Re: A Simple TV Remote with an ALL-ON Button?

Post by Jim Barrett » Sun Nov 08, 2009 6:24 am

Yep, the Sony referenced above is a learning remote and although I'm sure there are IR formats it won't do I have yet to find one.

It also has an "extensive liibrary" of pre stored formats but I've never found one that works properly for any device I tried, right off the bat, not even Sony devices. Sometimes I'll find a pre-prog that's really close and then make the bugger learn or relearn the functions I want.

It has system buttons that can be programmed to do sequential steps, such as powering up or down multiple pieces of equipment (called macro commands).

After I've taken my best shot at programming a customer's system I sit down with them to show them how it works. If they hit a stumbling block, like remembering to only change the channels via the cable box, I reprogram it so that changing channels will only change the cable box.

The thing also has some subtlties you have to notice. Like, while not particularly back-lit, the device rests in your hand so that the vol & chan controls are right under your fingers. The vol controls are domed while the chan controls are concave. Mute & recall are right below them.

It controls up to 8 devices and they have other models that do more.

It might seem daunting to think about programming all those buttons but once you get the rythm it's not so bad.

In my house, with 3 tvs, a remote gets dropped about twice a day. Dropping the learning remote they don't break the original remotes

I do this for a living & this is the most affordable solution I've come across.

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