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Audio/Visual using Roomie Remote
01-15-2016, 11:48 (This post was last modified: 01-15-2016 11:58 by davidbrady.)
Post: #1
Audio/Visual using Roomie Remote
I hope the author (Walt) of this post (which I lifted from Prevost Community) forgives me for reposting w/o permission. I'd ask him for permission if I could contact him but I can't. I think his solution is too good not to spread around. If someone wishes to ask for Walt's permission by proxy I'd appreciate it! I hope he forgives me! Smile

----------------------------repost below------------------------------

2003 Marathon XLii - AV upgrade

Hi All,

This is my first post - so please go easy on me. I thought I’d do an intro and upgrade post in one to make it simple!

We got our first big RV (we have an Airstream Interstate already) the day before Halloween 2015. It’s a 2003 Marathon #827. We got it in Phoenix AZ. I did read a lot on the forum before we purchased... but you know... we saw a nice one and went for it (I think this might be typical.)

No regrets yet - only a few things that are nagging. But will take a look at those later.

First I wanted to tell ya’ll about the AV upgrade I’m working on.

One of the previous owners did a sort of partial upgrade where the front Salon TV and the Bedroom TV were upgraded to Samsung LED TV’s. But they had individual Bluray players at each location with an HDMI cable hanging out for it. So, the TV in the front didn’t use the theater stereo system for sound. The TV in the bedroom had the same sort of setup where the sound basically came from the TV speakers.

They also removed the OTA antenna and put in an HD satellite dish in it’s place on the roof. I believe they had a dish receiver at each TV too - there are dual coax runs to both TV locations. Someone took the receivers - so I’m not 100% sure about that. They also took out the entertainment bay all together.

Other than that I figure the AV was pretty much as original. The TV installations were done very well so there was no need to alter that one bit. I don’t know where the upgrade was done… but they also converted the dining room table into a booth. It looks so perfect with matching materials (veneer, vinyl, and cabinet hardware) it’s so perfect you can’t tell. (Believe me - I’d know if it was a hack job.)

“Partial Upgrade” the Crestron seemed to have some sort of attempt at being programmed to operate the new TV’s - but basically it didn’t work correctly, it didn’t control the new stuff.

After a lot of staring behind the vinyl panels in the master closet I came up with a plan.

I had downloaded an app for iPhone called Roomie Remote a while ago but never played with it. By this time, they changed the name to Simple Control. It’s basically a consumer version of the control portion of products like Crestron, but cheaper. It’s main claim to fame is it controls devices via IP - but it can also do it via IR for older devices. You can also operate relays to control drapes or (I’m hoping) the “Screens” button (I haven’t done this yet but an thinking I can recycle the wiring fro the Crestron to do this)

The AV equipment from 2003 is all standard definition and so is all the wiring. Today, as we all know, it’s High Definition (and beyond!) I had to get HDMI to the front of the bus - salon side (we wanted to add a TV that could be view while driving from the couch) - bay - etc… the bedroom had an HDMI cable swung to the cabinet where the CRT used to be so the bedroom was all set.

My experience in my home theater with HDMI was any cable over 30’ feet was iffy. So I didn’t want to just run an HDMI cable. There are only a few sources that we use in my family. Bluray, AppleTV, OTA TV - and the Techlink video. That was all we needed. We are not huge TV watchers and didn’t want another 100 a month bill for Satellite so we just ignored that.

I found an HDMI matrix switcher that also ran the HDMI via IP over Cat 5E. It’s a Brightlink HDMI 4x8 switcher on ebay. It’s definitely some medium level Chinese stuff - but it works. There a boxes that take the Cat5 - and output HDMI. The boxes do need power. They are about the size of a triple thick iPhone 6 Plus. There is an occasional hang when I move the switcher itself - the seller is working on that one now. We’ll see how that goes I’m pretty sure it’s a short at one of the ports hence why when I move it and the cables tug on it it freezes moving it again unfreezes it. The eBay seller does have over a thousand good reviews so - they will likely follow through.

Since we were abandoning the Crestron, there was a cat 5E already run from the AV Closet to the front of the bus!!! So I was able to recycle that and got HD at the front TV with little effort and the signal is solid on the front TV so that’s great. We also installed a side TV that could be seen by the couch while driving. Right now we just have it on the the little cabinet desk to make sure we like it before I “install” it in the wall. For that I had to run a new cat 5E wire - which I did from the entertainment cabinet in the back bedroom. I did the “ceiling light to ceiling light” method I read about on the forum to get it to the fridge - then down to the channel on the side of the bus to get to the GPS panel in the copilot seat. Then I was able to get the wire out and to the TV from behind the access panel that the GPS Copilot monitor is attached to.

I had seen another bus down in the Los Angeles area that was a 2004 Marathon. It had video on the copilot display which outs didn’t. I remembered that as I was looking in there and I discovered a composite video cable marked CPV there that terminated behind that access port. I found the other end in the entertainment cabinet and put on ends and now I can send video to the copilot GPS screen! Bonus!

I figured out the easiest way to get the techlink display into my new system was to send select Techlink in the bedroom with the Crestron before I tuned the Crestron off. Then I got a little Composite Video to HDMI convertor box, took out the Video cable for bedroom from the Xantec video switcher, and plugged it into that. Now I have it as an HDMI source. I also installed a little Mac Mini in there to hold movies and music on disk so if we were out of any sort of connection we would still have stuff to watch. Since I did that, I went ahead and put the audio output of the Mac into the Composite Video to HDMI convertor box. Now when I call up the Techlink display, I also have background music that I can control by an iTunes remote (which Simple Control will do.)

Then it was a matter of getting the Bluray player, Apple TV, and Samsung OTA Decoder box in there to use as the other sources. I also had to get the Winegard Rayzor automatic antenna because the original OTA antenna was gone. That was easy to install because it runs power through the single coax that was already up there. I just had to use an extension because the spot for the OTA antenna was now an HD Satellite antenna. The Rayzor is so light - I decided to just “glue” it to the roof. I just hate leaks so to me this was the best bet. So far - it hasn’t fallen off!

Audio - to be able to run audio through the Pioneer for the Front TV (the Pioneer, although old, is just fine for what it is) I got an HDMI audio stripper to break the digital audio from the HDMI signal to send to the Pioneer. Now, whatever is switched up on the Front TV runs through the stripper and then the Pioneer. It works great!

For the bedroom I got a new Clarion Car stereo with bluetooth and remote control and was able to simply slide it in there! That was awesome. The first radio I bought was a Pioneer and when I went to put in in realized that was a big mistake - so I ordered a Clarion to replace the old Clarion and the cabling is the same.

It was so easy, I also got a new Clarion for the driving area too - it slid right in there! Now I can bluetooth my music from my iPhone to the stereo. This is the easiest upgrade in the whole bus I think.

Once I got all the sources in place - it was then on to the remote control. The Simple Control app runs on iOS (or android I’m sure but I’m an iPhone guy) and basically runs over IP. So, I installed a network switch on the wall in the AV “closet” and ran CAT5 to all the devices that needed it. I ran another wire to an Apple Airport Extreme to above the fridge (where the Crestron access points are) to provide the wireless for the iPad Minis I’m using for the remotes. The Simple Control also uses devices called “Simple Blasters” to control devices that are IR only and not Network controllable.

Unfortunately for me - As it turns out Samsung devices won’t turn ON via IP - only by IR. So in practice you can’t do IP for the Samsung stuff (the 2 TV’s and 2 Blurry Players that were on the bus) because they won’t turn on. I bought a Sony Bluray player since that was only 80$ to be able to control it via IP. The TV’s are staying! But - the turning on problem was easily solved!

The Brightlink Matrix Switcher not only sends HDMI via IP - but it also has a receiver at the switcher location that can receive IR - it will then encode it and send it over IP and then there is an emitter at the receiving end. The features of the Brighlink are PERFECT for this situation. So, basically I can control the front TV via IR with the Simple Control app and it’s blaster in the AV closet. I’m using this feature for the Salon Side TV too - where I bought Samsung before I figured out the whole turn on problem.

As far as the control app - it isn’t “easy” to setup but it isn’t hard either. I think once I got the hardware all setup, the control app took about 2 hours to configure it to work in a basic state. Over the past week, I’ve been using it and am now figuring out how I want to do it differently. It’s an “activity” based remote app. I think most remotes are designed with a single home theater in mind. Probably not a bus with multiple viewing stations and a Matrix switcher. Basically, each activity has a “on off” setup. But - what we really need is a single “Master ON” and “Master OFF” then you need each station to have a “Station ON” and a “Station OFF” That’s my next change in the programming.

All in all - it’s working pretty good. There are little things like the IR eye in the bedroom broke in half. Ugh - it’s this little stuff that makes everything difficult but I suppose for the overall cost it’s worth it. I think all in all I’ve spent about 2.5 K in “stuff” to make the change. I already had the 2 TV’s so that’s something to consider for the cost to go from SD to HD.

As long as the network is solid, the remote works well. I think anything wireless has it’s drawbacks in a metal bus but so far it’s been pretty good.

With exception to the Matrix Switcher all of the little convertor boxes I bought on Amazon. It seems like there is a little convertor box for everything you could possibly need. I found a little box to convert TV Speaker output to line level… the HDMI Audio stripper, a Composite SD to HDMI box, and an HDMI to composite SD for the Copilot display.

The next step, now that it’s all hooked up and working, is to work out the kinks then tighten up the wiring. First I just hooked it all up to figure it out. I had to make changes along the way so tightening up the wiring in the beginning would have been time wasted. But now that it’s all working and setup well, I need to do that.

I’m also going to tackle the entertainment bay - I know some people don’t use it much but I think I would like to have it. We’d like to tailgate and do some other things where I think we could use it. Only time will tell that part but at the very least I’m gonna use it in the driveway at our house!

I’m not the best at taking pictures (actually - I’m SUPER bad a taking “along the way” pictures) but I took some to try to let you see what went on.

Thanks for reading!

----------------------------and more-----------------------------

There doesn't seem to be any loss in quality from all the little boxes, the switcher, etc... That's the beauty of digital!

Even the whole converstion from HDMI to IP that goes over the Cat5e network wire looks perfect. You can't tell any difference between it and plugging the TV in directly to the Bluray player. If there is a difference - you can't see it.

Same with the sound. When we first got the bus, believe it or not, it was an exciting thing to have a "home theater" that wasn't in the house. We have 3 kids (4,3,2 years old) and don't really get to watch anything but Thomas the Train and Frozen in the house so we watched our backlog of movies in the bus. Before the upgrade, we just watched the DVD's. Oblivion was my sort of "reference" for the upgrade. The sound is the same now as it was before. But the picture - that's WAY better in HD than it was in SD.

There might be some sort of loss in the conversion of the Techlink video from SD to HDMI... but it looks the same to me and even if it was somehow not quite as good... for that display it wouln't really matter that much.

However - you do run into other snafu's. For example - I had the idea that I wanted to be able to break out the digital audio from the switcher to a convertor box to run into the Car Stereo in the bedroom that feeds the speakers. But the convertor box didn't recognize a DTS encoded audio stream. So when I plyaed a DTS movie, the convertor box just made noise. SO, in the bedroom, I had use the headphone out from the TV itself to input to the Car Stereo to run the overhead speakers.

I also bought one little 14$ box that didnt work correctly - this was the one that took HDMI and converted it down the Standard Definition for the Co-Pilot display. The picture would studder and flash every few seconds. I bought a different brand of box for another 14$ and it works great.

At least those components are pretty inexpensive.

One of the other next steps will be to try to figure out what components from the original install I can remove - to make room on the wall for the new stuff. And to just clean it out a little bit in general. But - I should probably move on to the 365 tire upgrade as I weighed the bus the other day and it's 18,100 on the front (EEEEK!) within spec but if I gain any more wight it won't be!

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david brady,
'02 Wanderlodge LXi 'Smokey' (Sold),
'04 Prevost H3 Vantare 'SpongeBob'

"there is no perfect forum there are only perfect forums"
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01-20-2016, 09:38
Post: #2
RE: Audio/Visual using Roomie Remote
What a great solution. Too bad it's only available for Apple products.

I looked at there web site. It appears to be a pretty straightforward solution not difficult to implement for any AV needs.

What I didn't see was the ability to control relays or HVAC systems. Instead, it could perform an AV function based on listening to actions originating from Lutron home automation or NEST HVAC systems.

Although not a total replacement for most Crestron coach implementations it certainly appears more than capable of replacing the Crestron AV functions. It also appears this can be implemented for less than what some converters charge to reprogram thr Crestron for a single TV change.
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