Remote Control Through Closed Doors

      There are several solutions to the problem of controlling equipment in an entertainment center when the doors are shut. December 27, 2006

I'm building an entertainment center for a customer and found a device that allows you to have your components behind doors and still be controlled by remote. It's called MicroLink and can control 4-8 devices. Looks like the spyglass that people put in doors to see who's knocking. Anybody have experience with this?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor R:
I tried to find your MicroLink, but was unable. That sounds like the "eye" for a radio frequency (RF) remote control. Anyway, contact a local home theater company. Some national chain electronics stores are starting to carry them. It's been my experience that the smaller home theater companies carry more expensive equipment, but also better quality. It all depends what you want.

From the original questioner:
I saw it in a Rockler catalog for $199. Found an electronics company near me in Irvine, CA that has them and a few others. Talked to the tech rep and said they work pretty well.

From contributor P:
I've used the ones from Niles, and they work fine and are easy to set up. All of them seem pretty similar - an "eye" on or outside the cabinet, and "flashers" that you stick onto the front of each component you want to control. Niles claims theirs are plasma proof, which implies that some other brands are subject to interference from plasma TV's. I know Crutchfield carries them.

From contributor R:
I can only think of one entertainment center we've done *without* the use of RF remote control. I wholeheartedly believe this is one area where you get what you pay for. If you buy the cheapest one you can find, don't be surprised if you have problems. Lots of brands to choose from, but if you really want to spend some money, check out Crestron. Super expensive, but man are they cool.

From contributor S:
Sit down, hang on, and click on They have some wild stuff and the dollars will fly. Just about every kind of electronics for home wizardry.

From contributor S:
I have used several and they work great. You will need to determine if you need IR (infared, aka light), RF (radio frequency) or both for the components you're dealing with. Can cause problems for the customer in the future if they change equipment. Just let them know. Also, you will have a heat problem with enclosed equipment and will need to provide cooling vents and probably fans. I use temp control fans from PC application, such as for server towers, etc. I usually set them to about 90 degrees F here in NV where room temp can be up to 85 in the summer.

From contributor M:
It seems like these are referred to as "RF repeaters." The brand name escapes me, but it starts with an X. Check with Capitol Sales to get wholesale pricing. At the time, this was the same one sold by Rockler, but at a much better price.

From contributor A:
Well, without meaning to split hairs, they're known as IR (InfraRed) repeaters. RF (radio frequency) doesn't need this kind of solution, as it already goes through walls, doors, cabinets. Infrared frequency is in the visual spectrum and is line of sight - which means it can't go through cabinet doors, or walls, or cousin Irv, the couch potato who sits right in front of the TV.

There are a whole variety, from the basic Radio Shack version up to more high end models. The receiver can be as small as the spyglass that you refer to, to a small box. They then run the signal either via wire or convert to wireless (RF) and re-transmit in the required location. The re-transmission is either via stick-on emitters on the face of the equipment, or via a "blaster" - a small box that essentially lights up the entire interior of the cabinet. A Google search for "IR repeater" will get you a passel of reading.

From contributor M:
You're right. They are IR repeaters. Xantech was the brand that I was referring to.

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