IR Server Suite - Alpha Testing (Private)

Discussion in 'IR Server Suite (IRSS)' started by and-81, April 21, 2007.

  1. and-81
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    and-81 Retired Team Member

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    Hello,

    It's about time I released my new plugin and application suite, but before I do, I'd like to invite anyone who is interested in doing some last minute testing to send me a private message with their email address.

    A few days from today I will take all the collected email addresses and send out a test copy.

    What I'm after is Feedback, Bugs, Suggestions, etc ...

    So what are you getting yourself into?

    I've written a new suite of applications and plugins based on my work on the MCE Replacement plugin. I wrote it with the TV Server in mind. And to overcome a limitation of the MceIrApi. The idea is this:



    You run an "IR Server" that interacts with your IR device (I'll use the MCE IR box for all my examples). The IR Server accepts connections from client plugins and applications either on the same PC or over a LAN. It allows those plugins and applications to share the device, to act on the remote buttons received, and to blast IR commands.

    The prime candidate for this is where you have a TV Server PC and a MediaPortal client PC. The client can be controlled by an MCE IR device but the same MCE IR device can be used by the TV Server to change channels on a Set Top Box ...

    It's not the most common use case, granted. But the networked approach has other benefits, like simulating remote button presses over a network (say for example from a tablet pc, a laptop or a pc in another room). And a few other nice things you'll discover along the way.

    It also gets around a limitation of the MCEIrApi where you can't run two plugins or applications that use the MCEIrApi at the same time.

    The package includes:

    "IR Server"
    - Connects to the IR device. IR devices are supported through a plugin architecture which allows for additional IR devices to be supported as time goes by. IR Server can also operate in "Relay mode" which can pass on IR remote key presses from another PC with another IR device (can be a completely different device).

    "MP Control Plugin"
    - Is almost identical to MCE Replacement Plugin. It has some things removed and some added.

    "MP Blast Zone Plugin"
    - This is a GUI plugin version of MCE Replacement Plugin / MP Control Plugin. You create a custom menu that the plugin displays which allows the user to control equipment from inside MediaPortal completely independent of any remote control. It lets you create a menu of buttons that can do anything that the MP Control Plugin can do. So not only IR blasting, but macros, external applicatoins, windows messages, jump to MediaPortal screens, etc... And I'll be adding more abilities over time.

    "TV3 STB Blaster Plugin"
    - It's like MCE Replacement Plugin for TV3 (Well, if you've used my test TV3MceBlaster plugin, it's like that)

    "Tray Launcher"
    - Like MP Tray

    "Translator"
    - It's like HIP (sort of like Girder). It lets you control your whole PC with this system. If you need more than just "Tray Launcher" capabilities this is where you go.

    "Virtual Remote"
    - Let's you simulate remote button presses. Either on the same PC or over a LAN.

    "Virtual Remote Skin Editor"
    - Let's you create skins for the Virtual Remote, to have it simulate different remotes or just to make it look nice.

    "Debug Client"
    - This is more of a testing tool. It lets you watch the messages flying around and to control the IR Server.


    The IR Server currently has plugins with it for these IR Devices:
    Microsoft MCE (Works like MyBlaster/ServerBlaster plugins)
    MCE Replacement (For the Replacement Driver, but will work with Microsoft driver)
    USB-UIRT
    XBCDRC (Xbox DVD remote receiver)
    IRMan
    IgorPlug USB
    DViCO FusionREMOTE
    IRTrans (experimental)
    X10 (experimental)
    Windows Messages (for simulated remote control input)

    I intend to add support for more devices. And the plugin architecture will change over time to support new devices. As you can see, Windows Messages is actually in as an IR Device plugin ... you could actually use anything as an input device. You could have a web interface, normal keyboard, bluetooth device, morse code, whatever you want ... You just have to write an IR Server plugin for it.

    The current implementation uses Named Pipes IPC to communicate between client/server. This is fast, but it won't work over the Internet. I will move to .net 3.0 and WCF later ... it's not practical to do that yet. The named pipes library I'm using is a modified version of one written by Ivan Latunov, available here: ivanweb.com

    This is a test version for a reason. It's not finished. I need to improve a lot of things, for example:
    - Improve the Translator application
    - Improve the IR device plugin interface
    - Improve the USB-UIRT support
    - Write a new MCE IR API for Vista
    - Allow multiple active IR transmitters/receivers
    - Support HotKeys in Tray Launcher (even a keyboard IR Server Plugin)
    - Add Time Based Schedules to Translator
    - Add "Repeater Mode" to IR Server
    - Switch to .net 3.0 WCF
    - Add more Virtual Remotes
    - Convert MCE IR Codes to Pronto format for storage

    ... But it's definitely ready for testing.

    Unfortunately, there is no real documentation yet. BUT there is the existing documentation for the MCE Replacement plugin (which I've included). This system is heavily based on the MCE replacement plugin, so those docs should help a fair bit. But I'd prefer only people with MCE Replacement plugin experience to test at this stage, I feel it might be too much of a learning curve for beginners without documentation.

    The reason I'm releasing this now is because I'm hoping to get some feedback. So if you have any problems at all, please provide me with a detailed description of your problem so I can fix it. Likewise, If you have any suggestions, feel free to reply to this post.

    Well, I hope that covers it. Let me know what you think.

    Thanks for your help and support,

    Drop me a private message or send me an email to and-81 at team-mediaportal.com with your email address and I'll get back to you with a test copy. Once the big bugs and usability issues (if any) have been ironed out I'll release it to the wider community.

    Cheers,
     
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  3. CHli

    CHli Portal Pro

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    Aaron this is really impressive. In the next weeks I'll receive my STB to get digital TV and I'm currently thinking of testing the TVE3 so I'll be up for beta testing once I'll have finished my configuration :)

    Great work !
     
  4. MJGraf
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    MJGraf Retired Team Member

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    Aaron, once more I have to say that you're doing such a great job to MP.

    Thanks a lot for all your efforts! Keep it up!

    cheers,
    Michael

    PS: Would love to help beta testing, but I'm barely at home and see my MP box all 2-3 weeks for 1 or 2 days... won't help very much - sorry for that...
     
  5. and-81
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    and-81 Retired Team Member

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    Hey everyone,

    I'm almost ready to release the first test copy of the new IR Server Suite. So I thought I'd give anyone else who wants to try it out a last chance to let me know...

    I think I should have made it clear in my first email that even though this is a test copy, it does work. I have been using it without issue with my MCE remote on my HTPC for over a month now instead of the MCE Replacement Plugin.

    I'm actually hoping there are very few bugs left now.

    If you want to give it a go, just send me a private message and I'll add you to the list for my email out.

    Cheers,
     
  6. msjl1969

    msjl1969 Portal Member

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    Fell at the first hurdle...

    Configuration: MP + TV Engine 3 Singleseat
    MP version:0.2.2 + SVN14058
    TV-Server Version: SVN14058
    IR Server Suite Version: 2007-04-29
    Windows Version: WinXP MCE 2005 SP2
    IR Blaster: Microsoft

    IR Server log file attached

    Aaron, now that you have sent out the first test version of your new IR Server (thanks very much, by the way) I have taken it for a spin, but unfortunately seem to have fallen at the first hurdle.

    I have installed the server and configured it to use the "Microsoft MCE" driver, which I assume to be the standard driver that ships with MCE 2005. Then, when I come to start the server (manually, from the menu), it fails with an "Access is denied" error. I am guessing that this is because the Microsoft driver is already locked by another application.

    In an attempt to overcome this, I tried to configure the IR Server to start at startup by ticking the option in your configuration tool. Unfortunately, this seems to have no effect. In fact, if I select it, stop the config tool and then re-run the config tool it seems to forget that I have selected this option.

    As a trial, I then selected the Windows Messaging driver. With this I was able to start the server and communicate with it from the Debug tool. Hence, the problem seems related to the Microsoft MCE driver.

    At this stage I have tried to avoid installing your replacement MCE driver as I am still using Media Centre as my main application on the machine until I get MP working 100% stable. I am not sure how MCE will cope with your alternative driver.

    I hope these observations give you some food for thought.

    Regards,
    Mark
     
  7. and-81
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    and-81 Retired Team Member

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    Thanks for the immediate feedback!

    OK, It looks like some other service/software is accessing the MCE IR device and not letting the IR Server access it. So we need to find out what that is and kill it.

    The Microsoft MCE IR Server plugin does kill ehtray.exe, but it could be something else is using it. Maybe try manually terminating other MCE services and then trying the IR Server...

    I don't have Windows MCE, but after just looking into the MediaPortal sources I see that MediaPortal stops these services as well: ehrecvr, ehsched

    I'll make a change to the "Microsoft MCE" IR Server plugin to make it terminate these services itself, but in the meantime you could try manually disabling them.

    Let me know how you go, and I'll post an updated Microsoft MCE IR Server plugin shortly.

    Thanks for the feedback,

    Cheers,
     
  8. andyd
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    andyd MP Donator

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    Hey Mark,

    This is also looks like a windows networking issue. When using Netbios (aka Windows networking) / RPC you should always have a naked ethernet or network connection if you are testing... Try the following:

    Disable any firewall including the MS one from SP2.
    Disable any AntiVirus including anythat come with firewalls. If need be uninstall it or configure it to allow any connection in or out of your network interface.

    Hope this helps!
     
  9. andyd
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    andyd MP Donator

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    Aaron mate! Still hanging out for this new blaster suite.... andy at denleyhouse.org.nz just in case you havent read your PM yet! :)
     
  10. itbrl

    itbrl Portal Member

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    Learning remote buttuns problem

    Hallo

    The installation was flawless and everything looks OK.
    With the learning of the remote in the TV server config page it was not possible to learn the remote the window can not be closed and must exit the TV server config to close the learning window.

    When you want to learn the remote buttons in a TVServer and Client setup on the same PC will you use the TVserver config or the Mediaportal config page?

    Regards
    Lappies
     
  11. and-81
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    and-81 Retired Team Member

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    Hey Lappies,

    I will look into the problem with learning in the TV Server plugin and try to fix it. Thanks for the feedback.

    At the moment the different applications and plugins all keep their own list of IR codes. But you can copy them from one to the other, just go to:
    "\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\IR Server Suite\xxxx\IR"

    Where xxxx is the application or plugin that you learned the codes under, and then copy the .IR files to the IR folder for the other plugin/application that you want to use the codes with.

    I will change it in the next version so all IR codes are in one folder.

    Thanks,
     
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