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Topic # 222510 15-Aug-2017 09:13
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Hi all, this was discussed in some other threads but comments below kind of specific so I thought I should start a new thread.

 

So... Harmony Hub turned up yesterday. Cost US$96 from Amazon including shipping (latter was very cheap at $7!). It arrived 9 days before the estimated arrival date. 

 

Setting up was easy enough - you need to download a windows or mobile device app. The device app seems to have a couple of features that the windows app lacks. 

 

Seems like everything is performed over the cloud. I am sitting in my office and I can see and perform activities on the hub from here.

 

You add devices first. It knew in the harmony database about my Veon TV model, the MySkyHDI model and the Roku. The Veon soundbar was unknown so it walked me through capturing the IR commands it needed for that.

 

You then add activities and again you are walked through so pretty easy.

 

One really annoying issue is that once the activity is built you cannot add new devices to it. I rushed in and setup a "Watch TV" activity then subsequently realised I omitted the sound bar which needs to be switched on and to the correct input. I could not add the device to the activity. You have to delete the activity and start again. However it only took about 2 minutes to build it again.

 

I added Watch TV first (turn on TV, delay 25 seconds for the damn thing to fire up, set input to HDMI1, turn on Sound Bar, set to HDMI). It also adds in the turn off activity. Within the device it knows the channel buttons, volume buttons etc so that all works and you can have your activity select the opening channel.

 

One of the questions in earlier threads was whether the Veon TV has discrete codes for power on and off, and input device selection. If it does, then the Harmony database doesn't know them, unfortunately. So the Hub has to keep track of the state for TV power and Input selection. For input selection it needs to remember what the list of inputs are, what the current input is, and then it is smart enough to press "Source" then up or down arrow the right number of times then "OK" to set the source. I thought this would be a real problem but so far it's been surprisingly good, almost flawless. 

 

Subsequently have added separate Activities for the Roku - "Watch Netflix", "Watch Vudu" and "Watch Hulu". If using Alexa, all require the "Turn on TV" command to Alexa first (see below).

 

If it gets itself out of sync, there are 'Fix' buttons on the app to set the power and source into alignment with the device (or the device into alignment with the hub). This would not be required if there were discreet Veon IR codes for power on, power off and each source input. If users mix using remotes and activities they will always be getting out of sync. This will be a real test. 

 

[edit] Regarding the above, there's a good case here to get not just the hub, but also the harmony remote. Then you could hide away the Sky and TV remotes and just leave out the Harmony remote which would work in sync with the hub and its knowledge of the device's states.

 

Alexa has a recently updated skill for Harmony and it considerably simplifies things. Uninstall any current Alexa Harmony skill and install the new one then tell Alexa to discover and the Harmony hyb and it's activities magically appear. This was much easier than I expected.

 

So now I just say "Alexa Turn on the TV" to get it started. This is important as Alexa remembers that it is in a TV controlling mode and for a period of time will interpret subsequent commands in that context. So subsequently saying "Alexa turn up the volume" will get sent to Harmony rather than Alexa itself. Alexa naturally knows how to change channel and volume for you while in the context, and if you setup friendly names on the hub Alexa discovers those so you can say "Alexa change channel to Sky Sport One" or "Alexa change channel to 51" if you wish.

 

One thing that is a bit confusing is the operation of "syncing" on the Harmony app. When you are making changes, it is just in the app. You need to sync these changes to the hub. And I suspect the whole shebang is stored in Harmony's cloud, not permanently on the hub or the app. So sometimes I found this didn't work or appear, but came good after a sync.

 

The hub must blast out a lot of IR in all directions. It's not pointing at or even in front of the TV and other equipment yet they all seem to get the signal as it is reflected around the room. That surprised me. 

 

[edit] The hub also comes with a separate miniblaster in a short cable so if you have some equipment in a closed cabinet and some out, you just put the miniblaster inside. The Roku is inside a closed cabinet but is controlled by wifi so I am not using the miniblaster at the moment.

 

One thing I have not managed to get working is control of the Mitsubushi heat pump. There doesn't seem to be any heatpump devices in the library so I got it to learn the codes for pressing the power button on the heatpump remote. However running the activity makes the heatpump beep but not switch on or off. I think the heatpump remote sends the whole setup (modes, presets, timers etc) with each press of any button and it may be too much for the learning facility. Need to find out if I can somehow learn or acquire simple on/off codes.

 

So that's enough for now. All in all I'm pleasantly surprised at how good this is.

 

 


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  Reply # 1846889 15-Aug-2017 09:33
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On the myharmony app you just need to go to 'change my settings' (I think that is what it's called) after selecting the activity you want to add a device to. No need to delete and start again.

AFAIK heat pumps are complicated, as they send a string, not just a single command. So an 'On' command may also include temperature, mode, fan speed and vane position.




Areas of Geek interest: Home Theatre, HTPC, Android Tablets & Phones, iProducts.



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  Reply # 1846910 15-Aug-2017 09:59
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Dingbatt: On the myharmony app you just need to go to 'change my settings' (I think that is what it's called) after selecting the activity you want to add a device to. No need to delete and start again.

AFAIK heat pumps are complicated, as they send a string, not just a single command. So an 'On' command may also include temperature, mode, fan speed and vane position.

 

Yeah I tried to find something in there - "Harmony Setup" then "Add/Edit Devices & Activities" then select the Activity. Can't see anywhere to add in a device. This is app version 5.2.1 - you have the same?

 

Googling this I found plenty of people with the same complaint but nobody with the solution...

 

[edit] regarding the heatpump - found this:

 

http://www.remotecentral.com/cgi-bin/codes/mitsubishi/air_conditioning/

 

No idea if it is applicable to my model, and no idea if Harmony allows you to configure in hex code strings?

 

 

 

 


 
 
 
 




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  Reply # 1846922 15-Aug-2017 10:40
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Found another promising site for the Mitsi codes:

 

https://www.analysir.com/blog/2015/01/06/reverse-engineering-mitsubishi-ac-infrared-protocol/

 

And have installed onto VeraEdge home automation control the Harmony plugin which then recognised the harmony hub once I told it the IP address user and password. It grabbed the details off the hub including the heat pump and if I can sort out the codes I'll be able to use Vera to schedule the heatpump off command at night.

 

 


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  Reply # 1846923 15-Aug-2017 10:42
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Choose "Re-Run Activity" at the bottom, this basically restarts the initial setup.




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  Reply # 1846925 15-Aug-2017 10:48
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Thanks will give that a try when I get home. Turns out you have to be on the wifi to make changes - can't do that remote.

 

 


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  Reply # 1846953 15-Aug-2017 11:35
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kryptonjohn:

 

 

 

One of the questions in earlier threads was whether the Veon TV has discrete codes for power on and off, and input device selection. If it does, then the Harmony database doesn't know them, unfortunately. So the Hub has to keep track of the state for TV power and Input selection. For input selection it needs to remember what the list of inputs are, what the current input is, and then it is smart enough to press "Source" then up or down arrow the right number of times then "OK" to set the source. I thought this would be a real problem but so far it's been surprisingly good, almost flawless. 

 

 

 

 

Not sure how much editing is possible with Harmony activities these days but there used to a little trick back in the day that could get you around the lack of discrete on/off commands for a lot of devices.

 

Many devices will come out of standby with buttons other than the main power key.

 

Have a play with the TV Remote and see if a number key or the menu/guide buttons will wake it from standby.

 

You could then try to set up your activity to use this key press for "power on" and the normal on/off button for "power off" only. Which it makes it harder for the Harmony to get out of sync.

 

Used to work with DVD players as well that would come out of standby if you pressed the play button.

 

 




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  Reply # 1846959 15-Aug-2017 11:51
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Good tip Mr Evil, will try that.

 

Makes me wonder about HDMI-CEC opportunities too for source selection... as I noticed that when you press any key on the Roku remote it will switch the TV source automatically to whatever source the Roku is on. So could use that on any of the Roku activities for the source selection. Annoyingly the Sky decoder doesn't seem to have HDMI-CEC so can't take advantage of that one.

 

 


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  Reply # 1847071 15-Aug-2017 14:16
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On the subject of function codes, it is beyond belief that device manufacturers don't use discrete codes for functions. My Pana AV system is such a PITA to use with my Harmony remote as it uses screen navigation to select stuff like inputs etc. So, it is goto Home, delay, go up, delay, go left, delay etc etc. And really slow, too.

 

Even if they want navigation screens, why couldn't they use alternative discrete command codes?

 

End rant and sorry to interrupt.

 

Interested to hear of your progress with the hub and Alexa.




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  Reply # 1847103 15-Aug-2017 14:56
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I totally agree , @linw !

 

Some manufacturers do this. My old Marantz SR7400, may it rest in peace, had an inch thick manual which had an appendix listing IR codes including all the discrete ones we need.

 

That said, the hub seems to manage better than I expected doing the song and dance you mentioned.

 

This might all go away if your Pana has HDMI-CEC? I've found that some devices such as Roku can send a "select me as input source" message when activated. Not so for MySky decoder sadly.

 

 


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  Reply # 1847300 15-Aug-2017 21:42
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yeah heat pumps are the missing piece of the puzzle with harmony / alexa because remotes send the whole state as you suggest. Am considering buying a sensibo as a workaround.

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  Reply # 1847309 15-Aug-2017 22:48
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kryptonjohn:

Dingbatt: On the myharmony app you just need to go to 'change my settings' (I think that is what it's called) after selecting the activity you want to add a device to. No need to delete and start again.

AFAIK heat pumps are complicated, as they send a string, not just a single command. So an 'On' command may also include temperature, mode, fan speed and vane position.


Yeah I tried to find something in there - "Harmony Setup" then "Add/Edit Devices & Activities" then select the Activity. Can't see anywhere to add in a device. This is app version 5.2.1 - you have the same?


Googling this I found plenty of people with the same complaint but nobody with the solution...


[edit] regarding the heatpump - found this:


http://www.remotecentral.com/cgi-bin/codes/mitsubishi/air_conditioning/


No idea if it is applicable to my model, and no idea if Harmony allows you to configure in hex code strings?


 


 



Sorry just home from work now. I should have made clear the app I was talking about is on my Windows 10 PC. Easier to use than the Android app and allows things like adding customised icons. Then synch with the hub. I have the elite remote as well.




Areas of Geek interest: Home Theatre, HTPC, Android Tablets & Phones, iProducts.



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  Reply # 1847310 15-Aug-2017 22:53
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Ah thanks - found it in the PC app. The PC app better for some things and the mobile app for others! Bit messy, Logitech!

 

Can't configure hex strings, but you can send it to Harmony and get them to add it to their database as a new device so you can install it through the app. I don't think they'll do it for the heat pumps as it probably won't be flexible enough for them.

 

 


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  Reply # 1850034 21-Aug-2017 21:31
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Harmony is the one and only (cloud) binding I have for Alexa (the *latest* harmony binding personally I think it's fantastic).  I run Alexa with Openhab2, the harmony binding that comes with that is fairly limited. Everything else (outside zwave, mqtt etc - eg: that has no OH binding) I use hue emulation where possible.  I'm very anti-cloud for any HA based service - reliance on an Internet connection to make automation happen in your own home is - well, a cop out... except in this instance, because it is just too good not to use!!! 

 

In regards to integration with heat pumps, I've just had an Ambi Labs 'Ambi Climate' turn up today (2nd revision, off a KS campaign), it has an open API which I'm gonna play around with soon and hopefully integrate into Openhab.  Ambi are also looking at developing an Alexa binding later in the year for this, so you can say something like "Alexa, tell ambi its too cold" and it will automatically up the temperature.  I'm assuming this will be cloud based though frown  However it has a heap of other cool features too (that all sound good on paper) but I'm yet to comment because, as mentioned its only just arrived so can't comment based on experience yet. Still, worth a look if you're after decent integration with heat pumps (I'll be listing my Pebble Air soon if anyone is interested)

 

 


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