August 18, 2005
Controlling multiple devices with one Slingbox      Email this entry 

This is not really a joke or a funny video, but I thought I'd publish it since it might be useful for some folks.

The Slingbox, an amazing little box

I have finished setting up a system on which I can control five different devices using only one Slingbox. For those that don't know, the Slingbox is an amazing device that allows you to watch your TV (live or recorded) from anywhere where you have an Internet connection. For more details, point your browser to:

www.SlingMedia.com

Below I publish instructions on how to control and use a Dish Network Satellite receiver, a ReplayTV DVR, a Microsoft Xbox or a Sony DVD player from anywhere in the world!



Let the fun start

Below you can find some notes on how to control up to five devices with one Slingbox. The original idea on how to control multiple devices with one Slingbox was posted by DTSFan on the AVS forum site:

Two Inputs with Help from AV Switch
I came up with a way to handle two devices via the Slingbox remotely. First, you need an AV switch box like a Sima model SVS-4. It will handle converting composite only devices to s-video so hook the two units you want to control into it and then plug the output of the AV Switch box into the Slingbox.

For my Test I used a ReplayTV and a DVDplayer - just to test the switching. One IR emitter for the Replay, one for the DVD.

What made it work is that the Sima switch has a feature to automatically switch to the port that goes active when it detects a signal. SO, when you switch the power on via your Slingbox, it will cause the switch to send the device you are controlling with the IR emitter to the Slingbox.

To toggle I just needed to log in with the Administrator password and change the selected device. I'm sure there are other switches that do this besides the Sima but I had a couple of them here and after seeing all of the posts about "only one input" I realized I'd solved that problem a long time ago on an old TV with the Sima switch.

It has 4 inputs so if I had a 4 headed IR emitter I could essentially toggle between 4 devices.

I implemented the above and here are the devices I can view and control from anywhere in the world with my Slingbox:

A Dish Network Satellite Receiver.

1) A Dish Network Satellite receiver. This is useful to watch live Satellite TV (not through the ReplayTV), especially when the satellite receiver gets stuck due to an unsupported channel listed in the ReplayTV channel guide.

A ReplayTV DVR (underneath there's an RCA surround sound/audio switch).

2) A ReplayTV DVR. The ReplayTV is like Tivo, but much better. It allows you to pause live TV, easily record and watch your favorite shows anytime, stream a show recorded on one TV to another TV in the house and much more.

If I had one, this is what a modified Microsoft Xbox would look like.

3) An Xbox. I'm not saying I did this, but what would be really useful to control with the Slingbox would be a modified Microsoft Xbox that runs Xbox Media Center (www.xboxmediacenter.com). Xbox Media Center is great: it supports many formats and Codecs and allows users to access pictures, MP3s, videos, movies, etc... that are on the LAN. I would have also installed a MOD chip on the Xbox to turn on/off the Xbox with a remote control (see http://www.mod-chip.com/en/ir_mod.php)

A Sony DVD changer, the DVP-CX985V model. It plays
DVDs, CDs, and even MP3 CDs, and can hold up to 400 DVDs!
Sorry about the tilted picture angle - too many beers! ;-)

4) A Sony DVP-CX985V DVD changer. I loaded up all of my DVDs into this baby and with the Slingbox I can easily watch any movie from a hotel room, the airport or a sleezy Internet cafe.

How the System works

Here's how I hooked up the devices to the Slingbox:

The video switch Sima SVS-4 sits quietly under a Slingbox

The Sima SVS-4 (found one on eBay for $30) automatically switches between devices as soon as it detects a device is on. Since the Dish Network Satellite receiver is always on (for recordings through the ReplayTV), we connect it directly to the Slingbox tuner. The other devices are connected to the Sima SVS-4, which is then connected to the Slingbox S-Video/Composite inputs.

Controlling the devices from China - infrared magic

Also in the AVS forum "mhargr03" helped me get started with controlling the four devices with multiple IR blaster cables:

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?p=5923739&&#post5923739

Whatever your intention, be aware that it seems *most* IR emitters are 3.5mm. Thanks to almost useless Sling Media tech support on this matter through both phone and email (and yes I can easily substantiate that remark) I determined that the Slingbox receptor takes a 2.5mm (or 3/32 inch) connector. Therefore, all one needs to do is find the standard IR emitter one wishes (for example, one of these: http://www.smarthome.com/8172s.html) and then use this 1/8" to 3/32" mono adapter from Radio Shack

With the help of a co-worker (thanks Mike!), on the Slingbox I connected two IR blaster cables from ReplayTV using a Mono Y Adapter from Radio Shack:

A mono Y adapter used to connect two IR blaster cables to the Slingbox

I then used a 1/8" to 3/32" mono jack as suggested above to connect the mono Y adapter to the Slingbox:

An inline adapter mono jack (1/8" to 3/32").

I also bought an additional blinking IR blaster cable from smarthome.com:

An extra IR blaster cable is needed.

This extra IR blaster cabled is needed to control the Dish Network Satellite receiver from the ReplayTV (since I used up my ReplayTV IR cables for the Slingbox). Please note that the blinking IR blaster cable from smarthome.com did not work with the Slingbox; I had to use a couple of IR blaster cables that came with my ReplayTV DVR.

Screenshots

Here are a few screenshots of the different devices. What is amazing is that with the Slingbox all of the menus we see below are accessible from your laptop in the backyard, your work desktop or even your aunt's old PC in Paris.

The Sony DVP-CX985V DVD changer has a neat feature where you can get a list of DVDs present in the library. Every entry has a thumbnail, a title, and a genre. You can edit the names and genres through a regular PC keyboard that plugs into the front of the unit.

This ReplayTV menu shows all shows that have been recorded. Notice that in the top right it says "This ReplayTV". But I can easily switch to any of the other two ReplayTVs in the house (in the bedroom and in the guest room) and stream any show through "This ReplayTV" and the Slingbox.

If I had a working Xbox Media Center, this is what the main menu would look like. Yep - you can stream your MP3s from any PC in your LAN, view your digital pictures from any connected device in the network, get the local weather and more.

Conclusion

The only downside is that the current Slingbox player (v1.0.4.107) does not make it easy to switch between devices. You have to go through this setup wizard made for sheep every time you want to control a different device.

Update Oct-2005: in the latest version Slingmedia added an easy switch between the coaxial and composite/S-Video input, where the profiles of two different devices are remembered. That said, they still don't make it easy to switch between two or more devices on the same input.

The big picture: all devices sit under our big screen TV in our family room.

Easily switching between devices is a feature that many people are requesting so hopefully Slingmedia will listen to its more advanced users. Hopefully, they'll implement a way to store "profiles" of devices and allow a one button click to switch. I've posted such a feature request in the "Sling Community" website at http://www.slingcommunity.com/forum/thread/10385/. In the meantime, running the wizard does work.

That's it - I hope you'll enjoy your Slingbox and good luck with whatever devices you decide to control and watch!

Useful Links

Sling Media: http://www.SlingMedia.com/
AVS Forum: http://www.avsforum.com/
Dish Network: http://www.dishnetwork.com/
ReplayTV: http://www.digitalnetworksna.com/replaytv/default.asp
DVArchive: http://www.dvarchive.org
WiRNS: http://kvanbusum.fastmail.fm/WiRNS/FAQ.html
Microsoft Xbox: http://www.microsoft.com/xbox/
Xbox Media Center: http://www.xboxmediacenter.com/
Sony DVP-CX985V: http://reviews.cnet.com/Sony_DVP_CX985V/4505-6463_7-20883401.html?tag=viddet
Sima SVS-4: http://www.audioreview.com/cat/accessories/others/sima/PRD_118027_1590crx.aspx#reviews
Radio Shack Mono Y adapter: http://www.radioshack.com/product.asp?catalog%5Fname=CTLG&product%5Fid=42-2437
Radio Shack inline adapter: http://www.radioshack.com/product.asp?catalog%5Fname=CTLG&category%5Fname=&product%5Fid=274%2D327&hp=search
Sling Community: http://www.slingcommunity.com/

Posted by lbastard on August 18, 2005   Email this entry 

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