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Infrared Repeater Systems

What is an Infrared Repeater?

An Infrared Repeater (IR) system is a device that allows you to operate your entire audio/video home theater system without having the actual equipment visible. In lieu of keeping the bulky masses of electronic equipment in plain view, you can create a more aesthetically pleasing and more easily operating home theater system. There are many places where you may put the equipment using an IR including, but not limited to a closed closet or media cabinet.

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What equipment do I need to set up my Infrared Repeater System?

There are a few crucial pieces of electronic equipment that you need to have and understand how they function in order to work your Infrared Repeater System. They are the following:

  • Infrared Sensor: An IR system includes a single remote to allow you to simply direct all of your devices using one control. The infrared sensor is the device that accepts the signals from the remote. There are several different types of sensors that you can use, depending on which device you are trying to control at the given time. Some types of sensors are miniature surface mounts, wall mounts, ceiling mounts, speaker flush-mounts, and table top mounts. As you can see, you can place an infrared sensor practically anywhere.
  • Infrared Main System Unit(MSU): The purpose of this device is to receive infrared commands from the infrared sensor, and then translate the information provided and distribute this information to the infrared flashers (defined below). There are different types of MSUs that you can use that are based on the number of electrical devices you are trying to control and how many infrared sensors the system requires. You can have as few as one sensor input with four flasher outputs to as many has four sensor inputs with eight flasher outputs. In fact, some of the better MSUs will allow you to break the flashers and the sensors into different zones.
  • Infrared Flashers: The infrared flasher takes the information transmitted by the remote and sends it to the Main System Unit. It is basically the main source of information in the IR system. The flashers provide data to the component by transmitting the IR signal to the specially designed flasher designed to accommodate the specific devices that you are trying to control. There are also many different types of IR flashers, but the most common types are the single component flasher and the dual component flasher. In addition, other available flashers are red LED flashers (“visual response” flashers) and High-Output IR Flooders, which allow you to control multiple components at once.

How do I set up my Infrared Repeater for my home theater?

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Setting up an IR system with all of this complex technology sounds difficult – but actually, setting up the system is relatively simple because there really is only one way to set it up, leaving little room for error. Here are some steps you can follow when setting everything up:

  1.  Locating the Sensors: The first thing you should do when setting up your IR system is to figure out what type of infrared sensor you want to use, and where you think you should put it. The sensor should always be put in the place where you would like to point your remote. The only problem that may come up when placing the sensors is if the wire that connects the sensor to the Main System Unit isn’t long enough. This problem is easily remedied, however – just use a Category 5(Cat-5) cable to run the wire from the sensor to the unit.
  2.  Attaching the Wires: This is a very straightforward step, and is particularly easy if you carefully follow the directions provided both here, and in the instructions that come with your system. Simply take the four wires coming from the sensors and connect them to the inputs in the Main System Unit.
  3.  Wiring the Flashers: The flashers run from the Main System unit to each individual component (electrical device) that you are trying to connect. To mount the flasher over the IR Eye, use the double sided tape that should be provided with the flasher. Then, there is a mini connector that you need to connect to the flasher output of the Main System Unit. If you have completed all of these steps, your system should be ready to go!
    What potential problems may I face when installing my IR system?

With any system that involves multiple components, there is a plethora of problems that may come up while setting everything up, even if you followed all of the directions. Here are some of the problems that you need to consider:

  • Power Issues – With so many different devices connected to the IR system and so many different components that require electricity, power shortages are a possibility. Using longer cables of higher gauges can require a greater power source, which can also cause a shorter. Perhaps consult with an electrician if you’re connecting a large number of devices and think that you may encounter a problem.
  • Light and Sensor Problems – Infrared sensors accept a wide range of frequencies, and sometimes it can get confused with other devices that have nothing to do with the repeater. Sometimes, the infrared light causes some interference due to some flat-panel televisions. Also, light doesn’t bend around corners and other surfaces, which can cause problems sending messages from the flashers to the Main System Unit. To combat this issue, try placing the sensors as close as possible to the MSU and try not to put it in a place where the signal can be blocked.
  • Duplicate Infrared Codes – Some manufacturers use the same infrared code in their devices. Though it is unlikely unless you are in a building where there could possibly be multiple IR systems running at once, this can be an issue in some corporate buildings or cramped apartment buildings. Unfortunately, there is very little communication between the manufacturers of these products, so there is no standard set that could avoid this problem. The only thing you can really do is consult with your neighbors or the people who reside in close vicinity to see if they are using an Infrared Repeater system. If so, do some research to make sure that the infrared codes of the systems are different.
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