Control your media player using your existing remote control

Published on: - 2 years, 6 months ago

An article tagged as: kodi, linux, ubuntu, xbmc

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Overview

I want to use my TV remote to control my media player. Since understanding infra-red commands is now built into the Ubuntu kernal, i wanted to stop using lirc, and instead use ir-keytable. The aim is to control XBMC with the minimum of fuss!

My set-up

This article is maily aimed at Ubuntu, but it could be tailored to any Linux distro.

I could have used a CEC controller, but the external pulse-8 controller doesn't play nice with my NUC, affecting it's boot, and the internal one is too big to fit inside the standard NUC case. So i decided to use ir-keytable instead.

You could use almost any infra-red TV remote and computer, incuding a universal one, but here is my set-up.

Things you need before you start

Hardware

Make sure you have an infra-red remote control. I am using my LG television remote control.

You will need an infra-red receiver. This may be an external one that you plug into your computer, or the receiver may be part of the motherboard. Mine is the latter, being part of my Intel NUC motherboard.

Software

You should be familiar with accessing your computer using SSH or directly on the terminal.

Everything in this article needs to be done as root:-

sudo -s

This will prevent us needing to put sudo in front of all our commands.

You will need to install ir-keytable

apt-get install ir-keytable

If already installed it is sometimes recommended to remove lirc

apt-get remove lirc

Check that your remote is recognised

Hopefully Ubuntu will recognise your remote control. To test this, we are going to run ir-keytable and press some buttons on our remote control.

ir-keytable -t

As you press a button on your remote control, you should see some output like the following:-

1423135959.440777: event type EV_MSC(0x04): scancode = 0x444
1423135959.440777: event type EV_KEY(0x01)

If you do not see any output as you press your remote buttons, your remote may not be supported.

Find the details for your infra-red receiver

If you did see some output we next need to obtain some information about our remote receiver

ir-keytable

This outputs the following:-

Found /sys/class/rc/rc0/ (/dev/input/event5) with:
        Driver nuvoton-cir, table rc-rc6-mce
        Supported protocols: NEC RC-5 RC-6 JVC SONY SANYO LIRC other
        Enabled protocols: NEC RC-6
        Name: Nuvoton w836x7hg Infrared Remote
        bus: 25, vendor/product: 1050:00c3, version: 0x0033
        Repeat delay = 500 ms, repeat period = 125 ms

The important information here is the device, driver and table.

In my case:-

Item Description
Device /dev/input/event5
Driver nuvoton-cir
Table rc-rc6-mce

Record your keys

Each key you press on your remote control has a reference called a scancode.

We want to obtain a list of all our scancodes and the buttons they refer to.

Make sure you replace the device name with your device name that you obtained earlier.

ir-keytable -t -d /dev/input/event5

You will see a prompt like this:-

Testing events. Please, press CTRL-C to abort.

If you get an error message check that you used your device name that you obtained earlier.

Now press a button on your remote control to find its scancode

For example, when i press the OK button on my control, the following appears:-

1423135959.440777: event type EV_MSC(0x04): scancode = 0x444
1423135959.440777: event type EV_KEY(0x01)

This tells me that the scancode for my OK button is 0x444

Make a note of each button you press and its corresponding scancode. After a few presses my list looks like this

0x444 KEY_OK
0x440 KEY_UP
0x441 KEY_DOWN
0x407 KEY_LEFT
0x406 KEY_RIGHT
0x428 KEY_BACK
0x4aa KEY_INFO

Your list needs to be in this format - [scancode] [button_name]

Theoretically, you could name your buttons anything you like. However, the application you are trying to control will not recognise your commands if you start making up random names. For example, i could have listed my OK button like this:-

0x444 MY_OK_BUTTON

But it wouldn't be mapped correctly. I've included a list of common button names at the end of this article.

Save your keymap file

Your keymap files are stored in the following location - /etc/rc_keymaps

I am going to create a file called rc6_lg32, using the nano text editor, and paste in my recorded keymap information information:-

cd /etc/rc_keymaps
nano rc6_lg32

Copy the recorded information, then right click in nano to paste it, ctrl + o to save it, then ctrl + x to exit out of nano.

Write your file to the keytable

Now that we have a keymap file, we want our infra-red receiver device to use it:-

ir-keytable -c
ir-keytable -p NEC,RC6 -w /etc/rc_keymaps/rc6_lg32

This tells any device using the NEC or RC6 protocol to use my new keymap.

Check it all works

Test the keymap file

ir-keytable -t -d /dev/input/event5

When i press the OK button i get the following:-

1423331121.367048: event type EV_MSC(0x04): scancode = 0x444
1423331121.367048: event type EV_KEY(0x01) key_down: KEY_OK(0x0001)
1423331121.367048: event type EV_SYN(0x00).
1423331121.367077: event type EV_MSC(0x04): scancode = 0x444
1423331121.367077: event type EV_SYN(0x00).
1423331121.367083: event type EV_MSC(0x04): scancode = 0x444
1423331121.367083: event type EV_SYN(0x00).
1423331121.618003: event type EV_KEY(0x01) key_up: KEY_OK(0x0001)
1423331121.618003: event type EV_SYN(0x00).

Notice that the second line says KEY_OK. If no button name is shown, please check that you saved your keymap file correctly and assigned it to your device.

Reboot the computer

The changes we have made are not yet permanent. We want the keymap to be used each time the computer starts-up. We need to edit a configuration file that is loaded at start-up.

nano /etc/rc_maps.cfg

The format in here is [driver] [table] [keymap_file]

So i will add the following line using the information i obtained about my device earlier:-

nuvoton-cir     rc-rc6-mce     rc6_lg32

Make sure you use your device driver, table and keymap file.

Save the file, then fully shutdown. When you start your computer your TV remote should be working perfectly.

References

Some useful links

List of standard button names

KEY_0
KEY_102ND
KEY_1
KEY_2
KEY_3
KEY_4
KEY_5
KEY_6
KEY_7
KEY_8
KEY_9
KEY_A
KEY_AB
KEY_ADDRESSBOOK
KEY_AGAIN
KEY_ALTERASE
KEY_ANGLE
KEY_APOSTROPHE
KEY_ARCHIVE
KEY_AUDIO
KEY_AUX
KEY_B
KEY_BACK
KEY_BACKSLASH
KEY_BACKSPACE
KEY_BASSBOOST
KEY_BATTERY
KEY_BLUE
KEY_BLUETOOTH
KEY_BOOKMARKS
KEY_BREAK
KEY_BRIGHTNESS_CYCLE
KEY_BRIGHTNESSDOWN
KEY_BRIGHTNESSUP
KEY_BRIGHTNESS_ZERO
KEY_BRL_DOT10
KEY_BRL_DOT1
KEY_BRL_DOT2
KEY_BRL_DOT3
KEY_BRL_DOT4
KEY_BRL_DOT5
KEY_BRL_DOT6
KEY_BRL_DOT7
KEY_BRL_DOT8
KEY_BRL_DOT9
KEY_C
KEY_CALC
KEY_CALENDAR
KEY_CAMERA
KEY_CANCEL
KEY_CAPSLOCK
KEY_CD
KEY_CHANNEL
KEY_CHANNELDOWN
KEY_CHANNELUP
KEY_CHAT
KEY_CLEAR
KEY_CLOSE
KEY_CLOSECD
KEY_COFFEE
KEY_COMMA
KEY_COMPOSE
KEY_COMPUTER
KEY_CONFIG
KEY_CONNECT
KEY_CONTEXT_MENU
KEY_COPY
KEY_CUT
KEY_CYCLEWINDOWS
KEY_D
KEY_DASHBOARD
KEY_DATABASE
KEY_DEL_EOL
KEY_DEL_EOS
KEY_DELETE
KEY_DELETEFILE
KEY_DEL_LINE
KEY_DIGITS
KEY_DIRECTION
KEY_DIRECTORY
KEY_DISPLAY_OFF
KEY_DISPLAYTOGGLE
KEY_DOCUMENTS
KEY_DOLLAR
KEY_DOT
KEY_DOWN
KEY_DVD
KEY_E
KEY_EDIT
KEY_EDITOR
KEY_EJECTCD
KEY_EJECTCLOSECD
KEY_EMAIL
KEY_END
KEY_ENTER
KEY_EPG
KEY_EQUAL
KEY_ESC
KEY_EURO
KEY_EXIT
KEY_F10
KEY_F11
KEY_F12
KEY_F13
KEY_F14
KEY_F15
KEY_F1
KEY_F16
KEY_F17
KEY_F18
KEY_F19
KEY_F20
KEY_F21
KEY_F22
KEY_F23
KEY_F24
KEY_F2
KEY_F
KEY_F3
KEY_F4
KEY_F5
KEY_F6
KEY_F7
KEY_F8
KEY_F9
KEY_FASTFORWARD
KEY_FAVORITES
KEY_FILE
KEY_FINANCE
KEY_FIND
KEY_FIRST
KEY_FN
KEY_FN_1
KEY_FN_2
KEY_FN_B
KEY_FN_D
KEY_FN_E
KEY_FN_ESC
KEY_FN_F
KEY_FN_F10
KEY_FN_F1
KEY_FN_F11
KEY_FN_F12
KEY_FN_F2
KEY_FN_F3
KEY_FN_F4
KEY_FN_F5
KEY_FN_F6
KEY_FN_F7
KEY_FN_F8
KEY_FN_F9
KEY_FN_S
KEY_FORWARD
KEY_FORWARDMAIL
KEY_FRAMEBACK
KEY_FRAMEFORWARD
KEY_FRONT
KEY_G
KEY_GAMES
KEY_GOTO
KEY_GRAPHICSEDITOR
KEY_GRAVE
KEY_GREEN
KEY_H
KEY_HANGEUL
KEY_HANJA
KEY_HELP
KEY_HENKAN
KEY_HIRAGANA
KEY_HOME
KEY_HOMEPAGE
KEY_HP
KEY_I
KEY_INFO
KEY_INSERT
KEY_INS_LINE
KEY_ISO
KEY_J
KEY_K
KEY_KATAKANA
KEY_KATAKANAHIRAGANA
KEY_KBDILLUMDOWN
KEY_KBDILLUMTOGGLE
KEY_KBDILLUMUP
KEY_KEYBOARD
KEY_KP0
KEY_KP1
KEY_KP2
KEY_KP3
KEY_KP4
KEY_KP5
KEY_KP6
KEY_KP7
KEY_KP8
KEY_KP9
KEY_KPASTERISK
KEY_KPCOMMA
KEY_KPDOT
KEY_KPENTER
KEY_KPEQUAL
KEY_KPJPCOMMA
KEY_KPLEFTPAREN
KEY_KPMINUS
KEY_KPPLUS
KEY_KPPLUSMINUS
KEY_KPRIGHTPAREN
KEY_KPSLASH
KEY_L
KEY_LANGUAGE
KEY_LAST
KEY_LEFT
KEY_LEFTALT
KEY_LEFTBRACE
KEY_LEFTCTRL
KEY_LEFTMETA
KEY_LEFTSHIFT
KEY_LINEFEED
KEY_LIST
KEY_LOGOFF
KEY_M
KEY_MACRO
KEY_MAIL
KEY_MAX
KEY_MEDIA
KEY_MEDIA_REPEAT
KEY_MEMO
KEY_MENU
KEY_MESSENGER
KEY_MHP
KEY_MINUS
KEY_MODE
KEY_MOVE
KEY_MP3
KEY_MSDOS
KEY_MUHENKAN
KEY_MUTE
KEY_N
KEY_NEW
KEY_NEWS
KEY_NEXT
KEY_NEXTSONG
KEY_NUMERIC_0
KEY_NUMERIC_1
KEY_NUMERIC_2
KEY_NUMERIC_3
KEY_NUMERIC_4
KEY_NUMERIC_5
KEY_NUMERIC_6
KEY_NUMERIC_7
KEY_NUMERIC_8
KEY_NUMERIC_9
KEY_NUMERIC_POUND
KEY_NUMERIC_STAR
KEY_NUMLOCK
KEY_O
KEY_OK
KEY_OPEN
KEY_OPTION
KEY_P
KEY_PAGEDOWN
KEY_PAGEUP
KEY_PASTE
KEY_PAUSE
KEY_PAUSECD
KEY_PC
KEY_PHONE
KEY_PLAY
KEY_PLAYCD
KEY_PLAYER
KEY_PLAYPAUSE
KEY_POWER
KEY_POWER2
KEY_PRESENTATION
KEY_PREVIOUS
KEY_PREVIOUSSONG
KEY_PRINT
KEY_PROG1
KEY_PROG2
KEY_PROG3
KEY_PROG4
KEY_PROGRAM
KEY_PROPS
KEY_PVR
KEY_Q
KEY_QUESTION
KEY_R
KEY_RADIO
KEY_RECORD
KEY_RED
KEY_REDO
KEY_REFRESH
KEY_REPLY
KEY_RESERVED
KEY_RESTART
KEY_REWIND
KEY_RFKILL
KEY_RIGHT
KEY_RIGHTALT
KEY_RIGHTBRACE
KEY_RIGHTCTRL
KEY_RIGHTMETA
KEY_RIGHTSHIFT
KEY_RO
KEY_S
KEY_SAT
KEY_SAT2
KEY_SAVE
KEY_SCALE
KEY_SCREEN
KEY_SCROLLDOWN
KEY_SCROLLLOCK
KEY_SCROLLUP
KEY_SEARCH
KEY_SELECT
KEY_SEMICOLON
KEY_SEND
KEY_SENDFILE
KEY_SETUP
KEY_SHOP
KEY_SHUFFLE
KEY_SLASH
KEY_SLEEP
KEY_SLOW
KEY_SOUND
KEY_SPACE
KEY_SPELLCHECK
KEY_SPORT
KEY_SPREADSHEET
KEY_STOP
KEY_STOPCD
KEY_SUBTITLE
KEY_SUSPEND
KEY_SWITCHVIDEOMODE
KEY_SYSRQ
KEY_T
KEY_TAB
KEY_TAPE
KEY_TEEN
KEY_TEXT
KEY_TIME
KEY_TITLE
KEY_TUNER
KEY_TV
KEY_TV2
KEY_TWEN
KEY_U
KEY_UNDO
KEY_UNKNOWN
KEY_UP
KEY_UWB
KEY_V
KEY_VCR
KEY_VCR2
KEY_VENDOR
KEY_VIDEO
KEY_VIDEO_NEXT
KEY_VIDEOPHONE
KEY_VIDEO_PREV
KEY_VOICEMAIL
KEY_VOLUMEDOWN
KEY_VOLUMEUP
KEY_W
KEY_WAKEUP
KEY_WIMAX
KEY_WLAN
KEY_WORDPROCESSOR
KEY_WWW
KEY_X
KEY_XFER
KEY_Y
KEY_YELLOW
KEY_YEN
KEY_Z
KEY_ZENKAKUHANKAKU
KEY_ZOOM
KEY_ZOOMIN
KEY_ZOOMOUT
KEY_ZOOMRESET
BTN_0
BTN_1
BTN_2
BTN_3
BTN_4
BTN_5
BTN_6
BTN_7
BTN_8
BTN_9
BTN_A
BTN_B
BTN_BACK
BTN_BASE
BTN_BASE2
BTN_BASE3
BTN_BASE4
BTN_BASE5
BTN_BASE6
BTN_C
BTN_DEAD
BTN_DIGI
BTN_EXTRA
BTN_FORWARD
BTN_GAMEPAD
BTN_GEAR_DOWN
BTN_GEAR_UP
BTN_JOYSTICK
BTN_LEFT
BTN_MIDDLE
BTN_MISC
BTN_MODE
BTN_MOUSE
BTN_PINKIE
BTN_RIGHT
BTN_SELECT
BTN_SIDE
BTN_START
BTN_STYLUS
BTN_STYLUS2
BTN_TASK
BTN_THUMB
BTN_THUMB2
BTN_THUMBL
BTN_THUMBR
BTN_TL
BTN_TL2
BTN_TOOL_AIRBRUSH
BTN_TOOL_BRUSH
BTN_TOOL_DOUBLETAP
BTN_TOOL_FINGER
BTN_TOOL_LENS
BTN_TOOL_MOUSE
BTN_TOOL_PEN
BTN_TOOL_PENCIL
BTN_TOOL_QUADTAP
BTN_TOOL_RUBBER
BTN_TOOL_TRIPLETAP
BTN_TOP
BTN_TOP2
BTN_TOUCH
BTN_TR
BTN_TR2
BTN_TRIGGER
BTN_WHEEL
BTN_X
BTN_Y
BTN_Z