How to embed an IR emitter V 2.0

My last article about embedding emitters glossed over most of the steps and showed off a Xantech product that is no longer available. This update has a lot more detail and describes what to use now that the Xantech Pro product is no longer available.

Back of the cable box.

Security Sticker. Once you remove the back the security sticker gets peeled leaving part of it behind. I used to worry about voiding warranty or getting in to trouble. Then one day i realized that the cable company isn’t organized enough to police the scary security sticker.

Our clients call us for service so i get to the cable box first. If its defective i remove my emitter and put the cable box out for the cable guy when he drops off the replacement. Cable guy and I never see each other again.

A lot of cable & satellite boxes have security screws of some sort. Most are simple like the ones in the photo (star with pin in the middle) but some are more elaborate. Get yourself a set of “Security Bits”. Most kits will have what you need. In some cases ive had to google “security bit for_____ model cable box” because they have an even less common screw head.

Cover is off. Most slide right off. Some may have a clip somewhere.

Some devices have ribbons like this. If they are good quality ribbons i remove them. If they are very thin/fine conductors i might leave the ribbon in place. This makes the rest of the work difficult but not impossible and avoids breaking the ribbon.

Front clip removed. There are always plastic clips all the way around the front clip. I start at one end and work my way around releasing each one until the front clip is free.

Close up of board inside front clip. The screws have to be removed. Note where you take these out of. You will often find more screw locations than screws. This board had 5 screw holes but only 4 screws. 1 at each end and 1 on each side of the front panel buttons. The front panel button area is important to support so that button pushes dont pop the board back.

There are usually clips also. You can use your finger or a small slot screw driver to release them.

The other side of the board. You can see the IR receiver on the left hand side. The shiny black/dark red/purple receiver with the metal X over it. Most IR receivers look just like this. If you dont see anything like this you will need to look at the plastic part of the front clip for a “window”. This should help indicate the location of the IR receiver.

Xantech Emitter. Any emitter will work. This is what i had so this is what i used.

Cracking the shell off. The old xantech emitters were much easier to open. These take a steady hand and lots of patience. I use a razor knife to score each of the 4 sides of the diamond. Then i push the blade in at the bottom while working the two pieces apart. Once i get it separated enough i will use needle nose pliers to start pulling it off.

Eventually the bottom comes off.

Be very careful removing the emitter from the shell. The two conductors can short out if you twist/bend the wire too much.

At this point i look at the back of the chassis for a vent or some sort of entry point. If there is a large enough opening you can thread the emitter through intact. In this case all i found was these tiny slots. I used a small screw driver to bend on to the side to make room for the emitter wire.

Inside of bent slot.

Hot glue gun time. I heat the glue gun up just enough to squeeze glue out. I immediately unplug it at this point. I squeeze a very small drop on to the board. I like to keep it away from the receiver so that it doesn’t melt down under it or around it. This is so i can easily remove the hot glue later if i need to.

I touch the IR emitter to the dab of hot glue. It usually sets very quick. Placement of the IR emitter depends on the component. This component had an open area between the board and the front clip. Some have plastic tube shaped pieces that fit over the IR receiver. They force you to put the emitter in the tube so that the board and clip can be put back together.

Always be aware of how the board and front clip fit together. Make sure that your emitter wire doesn’t get in the way of buttons or screws.

Board is clipped back in place. Emitter wire is threaded through an existing opening.

Front clip reinstalled. Thread the emitter though an open slot. Reinstall the ribbon. Make sure ribbon is fully seated.

Pull the slack out of the wire and make a small bundle. I always try and avoid any moving parts like drive trays or stuff that has heat sinks.

At the back i put a dab of hot glue by the slot. Keep in mind that the glue gun has been cooling and you are adding this dab about 2 minutes after unplugging the glue gun. This helps make it easier to remove. Hot glue and slotted metal/plastic are very difficult to separate.

Letting the glue get cool makes it less likely to push far through the slots. Push the emitter into the dab of glue. This will hold the emitter wire in place so that its not moving back and forth across the rough edge in the metal slot.

You can see that the glue did not squeeze out of the slot.

Since i had to cut the 1/8″ connector off to thread the wire through the small slot…i get to solder. Yay (he says sarcastically). Nothing fancy. Twist wires together.

Tin. Snip about half the length off. Fold to the side. Slide heat shrink over each conductor. Heat. Slide larger heat shrink over both conductors. Heat. Done. Angrily throw soldering gun back in the corner pocket of tool bag.

Install component on rack shelf. This rack is 4 racks over from the control processor so i used 1/8″ extension cables. That is what you see with the white label on it. Emitter connector is yellow.


I used to be able to use Xantechs PRO emitters. They had a nice little block that you attached to the shelf or component. Then you used an 1/8″ patch cable to get to the control processor. Like this…

Xantech discontinued the PRO emitter. I heard (from a friend of a friend) that they stopped making it because no one bought them. :(.


Triad Open Round & Sealed Round

Today i installed 20 of the Triad Open Round & Sealed Round speakers. These are their new speakers seen here. I installed a mix of open & sealed including 1 open & 1 sealed single stereo.

Installation went very fast. I had every area prepped and my tools & ladder ready to go. When they arrived i checked the packing slip and unboxed every pair and removed all packing. Once everything was unpacked i took the boxes out to the dumpster. I probably spent as much time unpacking as i did installing because the speakers were easy to install. Speaker terminals are “push” spring loaded. They are solid and lots of room for the 14 gauge speaker cable we have in the house. 3 screws with flip out tabs to hold them in place. They were a little bit of a pain because the ceilings all have 2 layers of 5/8″ drywall. The tabs give you just enough space to clear that so you have to make sure and dust out any small debris around the inside edge of your speaker cut out or they will miss it. With 1 layer of drywall this wouldn’t have been an issue at all. With 2 layers of drywall it was only an issue until the 2nd speaker when i realized i had to run my glove around the inside of the cut out to clear debris first. Speakers are nice looking (not that anyone will ever see them) and well made.

Magnetic grills are the shiz. I have installed thousands of speakers and let me tell you… the old style compression fit grills were a pain (especially sonance). I easily shaved 5 minutes per speaker because i didn’t have to screw around with the grill. 5 minutes might not sound like a lot but 20 speakers is 1 and 40 minutes saved.

The best part IMO is the new round only model. What i mean by that is that there is no rectangle or square version. They are all round. They have round and rectangle grills available for wall vs ceiling mounting. Each box only had 1 or the other. I think it would be cool if they included the round and the square in each box so you can decide which to use. This would make it easier for them and us to keep track of and stock.

The rectangle grill comes with these felt black corners. You have to put these on yourself. I assume they are not installed at the factory because paint would fill the grill holes wherever the felt exists. So basically leaving the felt off allows you to paint the grills (triad will paint grills at the factory FYI). These felt corners have to be installed or you will see the black/round speaker thru the grill. Leveling the in-wall grill is super easy because you can spin it around in a circle. You wont need your level until the end when you snap the grill in place.

Here are some iPhone4 pics i took of a pair i installed in a wall. This is the same wall seen in this remote central thread.


In-Ceiling Speakers – Taking a different route(r)

I am out in NY at a project that is still in the construction stage. All wire is pulled but it isn’t time for trim yet. I came out to get the lighting system fired up. When i got here i found all of our porch/deck speaker wires coming out of tiny holes instead of their brackets.

The ceiling for the covered outdoor areas are wood. Plywood then tongue and groove slats. 1-1/4″ depth with tons of nails. About half of the speaker locations had a hole large enough for me to get my hand inside so it was easy to figure out where the joists were. The other half were 1/2″ holes and took 3 times as long because i had to break out my old school tools/techniques to find the center of the stud. Ok i pretty much just used a solid piece of wire and spun it around until it hit something :). It did take 3 times as long because i wanted to be careful and of course the electrician mounted the lights and the fans up against a joist making it impossible to center speakers in some areas.

My first instinct was to break out the sawzall with a thin blade. Since the ceilings were painted and done this idea got thrown out. Second idea was a jigsaw. After counting the number of speakers (20) i decided that manuevering a jigsaw upside down was probably a bad idea. Third idea was to use a Labor Saving Device hole saw. I posted at Remote Central about it. A few people voted for the LSD product. A few for one from another company and one guy brought up the rotozip with a circle cutter. I have some experience with cutting speakers out with a rotozip. It works fine but the bit kept snapping and it was hard to keep the line straight after my arms got tired. The circle cutter might have made it easier. I didn’t think it would be a good fit for wood but it gave me an idea. A router!

I got a piece of furniture grade wood from the cabinet guys. Then i picked up an expensive hole saw and cut a template. I used a countersink bit to drill 4 holes in the template about 1/8″ from the circle cut out so that i could mount it to the ceiling. The speaker bezel/grille covers these holes. The router worked very well. I was able to cut most speakers out with 1 quick pass using a 1-1/4″ bit. The shank on 2 bits broke off when they hit nails. They were $25 each… ouch. Photos below.


JL Audio Fathom Subwoofer X 4!

I am in Phoenix doing some upgrades. I got a pic of one of the 4 fathoms that are installed in our clients family room. These subs are beautiful and sound incredible. We have Focal surround speakers and Ariel LCR speakers that the client already owned. Sim2 C3X and a 63″ Pioneer plasma. For control we have a Crestron TPMC-8X, Crestron e-control Xpanel on his and her laptops a URC MX-900 and now we have an iPad. I think they are covered on the control front :). There are 10 Crestron wi-fi touchpanels here plus the iPad. All of them can roam using 2 Ruckus access points that share the same SSID.

I would love to stick 2 of these fathoms in the trunk of my Lincoln :). The iPad was sitting on top of it so i kept it in the pic with the Crestron Mobile app running our GUI.

JL Audio Fathom - Apple iPad Running Crestron Mobile


Universal Remote MX-980 & MRF-260 Installation

Finally got back to a project where i used 4 MX-980’s and 4 MRF-260’s. The project was mentioned in a July Newsletter from URC. Client called about his printer not working so i decided to take a couple of pics while i was there. This is the kitchen TV. The Chicago lake front is outside of those windows on the right so it was difficult to get a good pic.

Universal Remote MX-980 and MRF-260

Universal Remote MX-980 and MRF-260

We have zektor baluns routing audio and video to 3 of the TV’s and we are using a Digital Logger ethernet (controlled) power switch so that we can remotely power cycle the cable boxes, modem, router and access points.

Today’s service call was solved by canceling print jobs that were stuck for some reason. I installed logmein on the clients new computer so that i could remotely correct things like that in the future.


Comcast Installation – Update

I finally made it back out to my twin sisters place to clean up the mess that Comcast left. I had her return the old cable box to Comcast and get one with an HDMI port so that we could use the HDMI cable she paid for and already had installed. I used her fancy milk crate cabinet :) temporarily until she gets a piece of furniture for that area. The slots in the crate were kind of nice for routing cables. If it were my place it would probably stay that way forever :).

I put in a surge protector, shortened the lengths of the COAX and CAT5 cables and moved the surge protector, modem and wifi router under the crate to contain them until she gets a new cabint. Cable box sits on top of the crate and i stashed the Wii behind the TV. The options were to use a wireless sensor bar and put it with the Cable box or stash it behind the TV. I decided to stash it behind the TV to keep them from having to replace batteries in the Wii. It’s easy to get to and off the mantle so my sister is happy.

It took me about 20 minutes to terminate cables and zip tie them into neat bundles and wire everything back up. Then i spent 10 minutes checking all the rooms in her house so that i could reinstall wall plates that the cable guy removed but didn’t reinstall and i had to carry around a trash bag to pick up all the cut pieces of cable and connectors. If that tech worked for me i would have fired him the next day. Total slob and ridiculously unprofessional. Enough stating of the obvious… check out the after pics below.


Rack Mounting The Crestron CEN-IDOCV-DSW

Custom order MiddleAtlantic RSH plate used to mount Crestrons in-wall iPod dock. Looks pretty darn slick! Their universal Media Shelf option for the table top iPod dock left a bunch of unused space and it was a bit of an eyesore once CD boxes and remotes and manuals started getting stored in them I came up with this simple but effective plan to keep my racks pretty :).


Crestron iPod Dock


iPad installed in a car!

This guy claims to be the first to install an iPad in a car. He is also putting in a Mclntosh amp to drive his speakers :D.


WireMunky Racks

I just installed my first pair of custom WireMunky brand racks.