Welcome to Home Automoton

Want in on the ground floor? This is probably the article you should start with.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Logitech Harmony remotes for Windows control (Part 3: Activities!)

Now comes the productive part: creating activities. In this example, we'll be setting up an activity to launch and control Hulu Desktop on your PC, using the Harmony remote.

In order to continue, be sure you have your devices added to the Logitech Harmony Remote Software. Primarily, you'll need your TV and the "Media Center PC" that we added in Part 2.

Note: The following directions were written for Logitech Harmony Remote Software 7.7
  1. On the 'Activities' tab of the Harmony software, click the 'Add Activity' button.
  2. Choose to manually add the activity.
  3. Type of activity is 'Utility'
  4. Chose Chose 'Generic Activity (Create a custom Activity)
  5. Chose Next
  6. Add your TV, as well as the 'Media Center PC'. If you're using some type of sound processor or receiver, you'll want to add it as well (I will not be using one for this example). Chose Save.
  7. Chose the proper input for your TV (Input RGB on my Vizio)
  8. Chose 'I don't need to set the input on my Microsoft Media Center PC)
  9. Verify that in the report your TV is on, set to the proper input, and that no unnecessary devices are powered on. Hit Done.
Now you'll find yourself back at the Harmony Activities page. In the 'Generic Activity' box, click Customize Buttons. Now you'll have to go through and specify what each button on the Harmony is going to do for this activity. Each button must have the device, as well as the command programmed. Keep in mind that you only need to program the buttons you want to use, but that any button you leave unmapped will have no function. My button map looks like the following:

Click to enlarge.

We're almost done. Click the 'Additional Buttons' tab. This is where you can program the screen buttons to perform particular functions. Remember the Ctrl+Alt+A functions that we taught the Harmony earlier? Here is where we'll use those.

Label one Start Hulu, specify the Device to be Media Center PC, and the Command to be Ctrl+Alt+A

Note: Whatever you list as the 'Label' is what text will be displayed on the remote's screen. It's recommended that you keep this screen fairly simple to keep you from having to cycle between screens frequently.

Click DONE. Now you're almost ready to program the remote. In the Generic Activity box, click Settings. Choose Rename Generic Activity, and give it something more appropriate, like 'Watch Hulu'. Hit Done, then you find yourself back at the Remote Software's main screen. Make sure your Harmony is connected via USB, and click 'Update Remote'. Go ahead and minimize the Remote Software while it programs your Harmony.

Now you'll want to download and install Hulu Desktop if you haven't already. Once it's installed, make a shortcut to the application. The install process likely put a shortcut on your desktop, so we'll use that one.

Right click the icon and choose Properties. Click in the 'Shortcut key' field, and press the A key on your keyboard. Windows will automatically append Ctrl+Alt+ in front of it. Click OK.

Click to enlarge.

Now that you're remote is likely programmed, make sure your USB IR Receiver is plugged in, and give it a whirl. Launching your activity should now power on your TV, and set it to the proper input. From there you can launch Hulu by pressing the 'Start Hulu' screen button.

It's possible to combine the 'Start Hulu' function with the rest of everything else when you start the Activity, but as I use my HTPC for more than just Hulu, I like to have them separated.

Any problems, questions, or suggestions, use the comments!

1 comment:

Chris said...

Looks like a solid setup. I'd be interested in hearing how you like a few weeks from now after testing it out.