By Your Electronic Warehouse
October 4, 2006

Using an infrared (IR) extender system can allow you to operate your entire audio/video system while hiding your equipment. You can conceal the equipment in a closed cabinet, possibly in a media room or even in any other part of the house. This article will outline the necessary equipment and the simple steps it takes to install an IR extender system.

Article Contents:

The Equipment

There are three main components necessary to have a complete infrared extender system. The three components are hard wired together using cat-5 wire. Having a hard wired infrared system will ensure you have trouble free transmission of commands and will let you enjoy your equipment without it being seen.

Infrared Sensor

What does it do?

The infrared sensor will accept the IR commands from a remote and send it back to the main system hub.

Types of Sensors

There are many different types of IR sensors. The type that is right for you will greatly depend on your application. Sensors are available as a Wall Mount Sensor, a Ceiling Mount Sensor, even a Surface-mount Sensor that can be mounted on the face of a TV. For complete invisibility, there are even Speaker Flush-mount Sensors that can be hidden behind a speaker grill. As a side note, all of the IR Sensors are plasma friendly, meaning that the IR noise created by a plasma TV will not interfere with these sensors. Below are a few of the model numbers of the types described above:

Infrared Main System Unit

What does it do?

The main purpose of the Main System Unit (MSU) is to receive infrared commands from the IR sensor, and then translate and distribute that information to the IR flashers.

Types of MSUs

The number of components you are trying to control and how many IR sensors you want to use will determine the type of MSU your system requires. The most basic MSU will accept only one input from an IR sensor and output that into four IR flashers. Depending on your application you can actually have up to four IR sensor inputs and eight IR flasher outputs. Some of the more advanced MSUs will even allow you to break the sensors and flashers into different zones. This feature allows you control specific components designated to that particular zone. Below are a few different MSU models:

Infrared Flashers

What does it do?

The infrared flashers are designed to take the IR command from the Main System Unit and transmit it to the equipment. They are in essence “the voice” of the IR system. The IR flashers “speak” to the components by transmitting the IR signal through a specially designed flasher that is to be positioned over the IR eye of the components you are controlling.

Types of Flashers

Flashers are available for all possible applications. Single component flashers as well as dual component flashers are the most common. The single flashers are also available with a visual led light that will indicate that the flasher is transmitting the IR signal. There are also flashers that are available that can control a great number of components at one time, these are called High-Output IR Flooders. These are mounted on the front of a cabinet door or shelf and are aimed towards a number of components “flooding” the area with IR commands. Below is a list of the different IR Flashers:

Remote Control Anywhere Kits

What does it do?

A Remote Control Anywhere Kit (RCA) is a pre-packaged kit that includes all the components that are listed above. These kits include all necessary pieces and parts to make a complete system.

Types of RCA Kits

We offer two different types RCA Kits. The included equipment is listed below:

RCA-TT2

  • One TS120 Tabletop Sensor
  • One MSU140 IR Main System Unit
  • Three MF1 Flashers
  • 50′ Of Category 5 Wire Included
  • Easy-to-follow Installation Guide

RCA-HT2

  • One MS220 (Black) sensor
  • One MSU250 IR main system unit
  • Five MF1VF MicroFlashers®
  • 50′ of category 5 wire included
  • Easy-to-follow installation guide

The Installation and Hook-up

The beauty of this equipment is that there is only one way to hook everything together. One big recommendation would be to locate the Main System Unit near the equipment that you are wanting to control.

The First Step – Locating the Sensor

The first thing that must be done is to decide what type of IR Sensor is to be need and where it is to be located. The location should be the spot that you want to point your remote, whether that is on your Television or flush mounted in a wall or cabinet.

Once the location and type of sensor is determined you will need to figure whether or not the wire supplied on the sensor will be long enough to reach back to the Main System Unit. If not, then Category 5 cable is necessary. The Cat-5 cable is then to be ran from the location of the sensor back to the Main System Unit. Your first step is complete.

The Second Step – Wiring the Sensor

Wiring the Sensor into the Main System Unit is pretty self explanatory if you follow the directions. You will have four wires coming from the Sensor (if you had to use Cat-5 you will have 8, you just need to use 4 of them however) that need to be connected into the four wire connector at the Main System Unit input section. Step two is complete.

The Third Step – Wiring the Flashers

The final piece of the IR System is the IR Flasher. These items run from the Main System Unit to each individual item. The Flasher comes with a double sided sticky tape that is to mount the Flasher over the IR Eye on the equipment. On the other end of the Flasher is a 1/8 mini connector that plugs right into the Flasher Output section on the Main System Unit.

So now that you have the Sensor where you want it, have it wired to the Main System Unit, and the flashers plugged in and stuck to the front of the equipment, you are done. You can now enjoy your entertainment system without having to see any of the equipment except the TV.

Comments & Questions

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For immediate assistance or for sales questions, please call us at 1-866-224-6171.

Posted in How-To

89 comments on “How to Setup an Infrared Repeater / Extender System

  1. geoffrey kwitko on said:

    where can i find the double sided sticky tape that sticks the ir flasher to the component????

  2. Your Electronic Warehouse on said:

    Geoffrey,
    You can order this product from Niles parts at 1800-BUY-HIFI.

  3. Is there any way to have a sensor and 1 repeater. So I can control my equipment from 2 locations with the same flasher

  4. Your Electronic Warehouse on said:

    Peter,

    Yes this is possible. What you would need is an infrared repeater system that has a hub, two sensors and a flashers. Any of the products we have listed on the right side of this page will work fine for the system you need.

  5. Marian Chramcow on said:

    My question is simple. What is the max. distance (cat. 5) from a sensor to the Main System and from the Main System to the Flasher?

  6. Your Electronic Warehouse on said:

    Marian,
    From the main system to the sensor the max distance is 500ft, from the main system to the flasher the max distance is 200ft.

  7. Marian Chramcow on said:

    If I use a IRH610 Expansion Hub to increase the distance at this time which will be the max distance from the Main Unit to Expansion Hub to the flasher. My project is to control many LCD or plasma monitors very far from the control room, my idea is to use Niles equipment but I must invert the use of them. Do you see this a good idea or do you have a different suggestion?

    Thank you

  8. Your Electronic Warehouse on said:

    Marian,
    Yes, this is a good idea. From your hub to the IRH610 you can get 500ft, from the IRH610 to the sensors you can get an additional 500ft. In total you have 1000ft to work with, I’m not sure exactly how far you are wanting to go but if it’s longer than 1000ft we have other suggestions for you. One of our Niles Audio installation experts can help you with any problems you have and give you several additional options. Call us at 1-866-224-6171.

  9. Doug Ruggles on said:

    In setting up a no-visible-wires wall mount for an LCD monitor, my electrician installed what appears to be 1/8″ female-to-female extender: 1 end on the wall behind the monitor, the other in the cabinet where the receiver and DVD player reside. Is this a compatible set-up for the Niles system? If not, any suggestions would be appreciated.

  10. Your Electronic Warehouse on said:

    Doug,
    I’m not sure what kind of cable you are using. CAT5 cable would be your best option but stereo cable might work with a Niles system. You will need a Hub (MSU 140 or 250), a Sensor and a flasher. If this doesn’t answer your question, I suggest calling our toll free number 1-866-224-6171 and talking to one of our custom installers so they can walk you through the process.

  11. I have a cable box and a DVD player that I want to control behind a wall. Will a sensor understand both remotes? I.e Can I use one sensor,one hub and 2 flashers? or will I need 2 sensors. Obvoiusly I don’t need to use both remotes simultaneously.

  12. Your Electronic Warehouse on said:

    Dave,
    One sensor, one hub and two flashers should work just fine. All the sensor does is look for infrared light so you only need one.

  13. Ulysses on said:

    Will all of your sensors work with Harmony remotes?

    Thanks

  14. Your Electronic Warehouse on said:

    Ulysses,
    Yes, our sensors will work with any IR Remote control.

  15. Richard on said:

    is it possible to translate ir codes somehow? I know that this product repeats them, but I have a tivo, and my tivo does not know the remote codes for my television/satellite receiver. Is there some product that I can program in the codes for what comes in from the tivo, and what I want to be output to the tv? That would be very nice.

  16. Your Electronic Warehouse on said:

    Richard,
    There is no product that will make your Tivo learn the remote codes for your other components but there is a way to make it all work on one remote. The Monster Home Theater Controller AV100 is a universal remote control that can download almost any remote code there is. Even if it can’t find a code, there is a learn feature where you can teach it to perform the tasks of another remote. It also allows you to use one button to control multiple components at once. It really makes life easier for people who have a multiple component home theater system. I would highly suggest it to any home theater owner.

  17. I see from a previous answer where you state the maximum distance, but when I look at the products, they all seem to say the cabling is 10 ft. I guess my question is that – What exactly do I need to accomplish the following:

    I have a stereo in my basement that have outdoor speakers attached to them that are on my deck in the backyard, about 150-200 feet away. I would like to be able to control the stereo using the remote control from outside on the deck. Can you point me to exactly what is needed to accomplish this.

    Thanks

  18. Your Electronic Warehouse on said:

    Chris,
    Here is exactly what you will need: Either 12 or 14 gauge speaker wire, a CS110 ceiling mount IR Sensor or a WS100R sensor in a water proof box, an MSU250 Hub and an MF1VF flasher for your stereo and an additional flasher for each component you use. Follow the steps above to properly install this system and you will have outdoor sound.

  19. Dumb question: I have two TVs on back-to-back on a wall in between two rooms. Cable boxes will be about 10 feet away, each TV with its own HD box. Do I need 2 separate units to operate them, or will the RCA2 kit suffice for everything? Want the TVs to operate independently.

    Thanks.

  20. Your Electronic Warehouse on said:

    Joe,
    Although there are kits that are multi-zone, it would be cheaper to get 2 separate units. I suggest Niles MSU140 hubs, Niles MS210 Sensors and Niles MF1VF Flashers.

  21. I have a tivo,dvd player, tv, and cable box. The previous owner had ran a cat 5 cable with a flasher(dont know which model, but looks like a MF1) to a closed door cabinet.
    I have a Logitech 880 remote.
    I am planning to keep all my equipments hidden.

    Questions:
    1- how do i know which model of flasher I currently have? It has a .35mm jack on 1 hand that the owner had connected to it.
    2- Which kind of sensor/flasher would I need assuming for 4 equipments?
    3- Would my Logitech 880 remote able to transmit the signal to your devices?
    Thanks

  22. Your Electronic Warehouse on said:

    Alan,
    If I were you I would go ahead and use the cat 5 cable but get a new flasher. Flashers are very inexpensive and to avoid any compatibility issues you should just get a new one. With your setup you will need three flashers anyway. You will also need either a wall or table top sensor (whatever your preference is) and a hub. You will then need to program your remote to work with each device and you should be good to go.

    Suggested Equipment:
    - 3 MF1VF Flashers
    - One Sensor Either Wall or Table Top
    - 1 Hub (MSU 140, or MSU 250)

  23. Tom Savell on said:

    I mounted a Pioneer PDP-4270HD Pioneer Plasma TV in a rotating wooden frame as the TV mount a la “Two for the money”. The frame overlaps the TV by 1/2″. I find that my remote does not work properly at distances beyond 6 feet unless it is pointed at glancing angle pointed at the lower right hand bottom of the TV then the distance is the rated 23-feet). Pioneer customer support says that the remote control sensor is mounted in the TV 2-1/2″ up and 1″ over from the bottom corner of the unit, which means the new wooden frame is 1/2″ from the sensor on one side. The frame stand out from the TV about 1/2″ as well.

    I need to extend the IR sensor to the full 23-foot distance rating of the system.

    1) What IR extender system do you recommend to solve this problem?
    2) Curiosity question: Why would a hard wooden “step wall” on one side effect the IR signal reception?

    Thanks in advance

  24. Your Electronic Warehouse on said:

    Tom,
    The IR extender system that I recommend is an MSU-140 Hub, a Wall Mount or Table Top Sensor, and an MF1VF Flasher. You have probably created an angle that partially blocks the sensor which is why your IR signal is effected.

  25. I recently Purchased an IR System on ebay. It is only controlling 2 components, my cable box and my reciever. My receiver picks up the signal perfect but the cable box work VERY sporadically. It will only recognize 1 in 10 commands if I am lucky. I have moved the flasher all over the cable box to get IR receiver to pick it up but nothing seems to help. Am I doing something wrong or is this some kind of compatibilty problem?

  26. Your Electronic Warehouse on said:

    John,
    You may be getting too much flash for the sensor to handle. There are certain IR Hubs like the Niles MSU 250 that give you the option of slowing down the flash to allow your sensor to pick up the signal better. If your IR hub does not have this I suggest getting one that does.

  27. Mark Barclay on said:

    I am looking at a receiver with a Zone 2 IR input on the back. I would assume that I do not need a flasher to support this zone remote control, but what other equipement is needed? I realize I need a sensor, but is it simply cabled to the IR input without the need for any hub? The cable distance from zone 2 to the receiver is 30-40 feet.

  28. Your Electronic Warehouse on said:

    Mark,

    I do not think that you can hook up a sensor to this input unless it is the same brand of your receiver. I recommend using a Niles Audio RCA SM or Niles Audio RCA HT Infrared System. Either one of these systems will give you everything you need to complete your system.

  29. Don White on said:

    I have two TV’s that I would like to operate with one cable box. I know I could not use both TV’s at the same time. With one sensor on each TV going to one main system unit going to the flasher on the cable box, would this work? The distance between the TV’s is about 30 ft.

  30. Your Electronic Warehouse on said:

    Don,
    You can get this setup to work. I recommend a Niles MSU 250 Hub, 2 MS 210 sensors and an MF1VF Flasher.

  31. I just put up a LCD TV with all the equipment in the closet on a back-to-back wall. So the equipment is really only about 3 feet away. Is there a simple way to extend the IR signal since it is so close.

  32. Your Electronic Warehouse on said:

    Jeremy,
    Unfortunately there is not a simple way to do this. The cheapest route I can give you for this setup is a Niles MSU 140 IR HUB, a WS-110R In-Wall Sensor and an IR flasher for every component you would like to reach in the wall. I have provided links to all of these products. If you have any other questions call our toll free number at 1-866-224-6171.

  33. OK, I understand how the connection from the sensor to the MSU, but what do the connections look like FROM the components (such as, DVD player, cable box, etc.) back to the TV? Can I use CAT-5 cable for this too, somehow? Or do I need special (LONG) video cables? Thanks..

  34. Your Electronic Warehouse on said:

    Bill,
    There are a few way that components can connect to the TV and there are several kinds of connections. If you don’t have a home theater system and are just taking the component straight into the back of the TV then each component will need an audio and video source going to the TV. There is another article that I have written explaining these connections, you will get a better understanding of audio and video connections if you read it. Read it by following this link.

    The setup would be a little different with a home theater receiver because you would most likely have all of the audio connections going to the receiver and usually only one or two video connections from the receivers output to the TV depending on what kind of connections you use.

    There are four different kinds of video connections. They are from lowest to highest quality; Composite, S-Video, Component and HDMI. Component and HDMI cables are the only two capable of carrying a high definition signal, HDMI also carries a digital audio signal. There are three different kinds of audio connections, from lowest to highest; Analog, Digital Coaxial and Digital Optical. Digital Coaxial and Optical are capable of carrying a Dolby Digital surround signal, analog is not. As I said earlier, you can learn more about these connections and what they do by reading the article I have linked to.

  35. I just purchased an MSU-250. The manual does not map the colors of the wires from the sensor that need to be connected into the four wire connector at the Main System Unit input section.
    Please help.

  36. Your Electronic Warehouse on said:

    Chris,
    The MSU-250 manual is not going to give you this information but the Sensors manual should. Look at the sensor’s manual and it should give you directions on which wires you need to connect.

  37. I just purchased the Niles Audio RCA SM to control a Denon receiver and JVC DVD player inside a cabinet. Following the instructions in the manual, everything tested fine until I turned on the Panasonic plasma TV. Now the infrared sensor light is blue all the time and nothing else will operate. As soon as I turn off the TV, it works fine again. Isn’t the RCA SM supposed to be plasma-proof? I’ve tried moving the infrared sensor up to 3′ away from the TV, but it still has the same problem as long as the TV is on.

  38. Your Electronic Warehouse on said:

    Rob,
    You are correct, your system should be plasma proof. It sounds like you may have a defective unit, call Niles Technical Support at 1-800-BUY-HIFI (1-800-289-4434).

  39. HI,
    I have my sensor velcroed on the side of my Sony tv. The directv dvr and Sony dvd are hooked up to the flashers inside the tv cabinet. When I turn on the the units with the remote control the sensor flashes blue for 6 mins (I timed it) within that time I can’t control anything until it stops flashing. Have I done something wrong or do you think the unit has a problem?
    Thank-you for your time.

  40. Your Electronic Warehouse on said:

    Angie,
    I believe that you have a sensor that is not plasma/lcd proof. This means that your TV causes too much interference to the sensor and it will not pick up a signal. You need to buy a plasma proof sensor, we have several that I will give you links to. Niles MS 210 (Surface Mount), Niles WS 110R (Wall Mount), Niles TS 110 (Table Top) and Niles CS 110 (Ceiling Mount) have no installation limitations and will work with your system.

  41. John G on said:

    I want to control equipment that is in 2 separate locations. I always thought I would need an expansion hub, but you have stated that the distance from the main system to the flasher can be up to 200ft, which is great news!

    However, given that the flasher only comes with 10ft lead, how do you extend this distance? Can you just use a standard 3.5mm mono audio extension lead? Or does it need special shielding to work over distance? And does the MSU have anough power to operate a dual flasher at this distance?

  42. Your Electronic Warehouse on said:

    John,
    You need to use CAT-5 cable to extend the distance. If you are going to use all 200 feet I wouldn’t recommend using a dual flasher. But if you are going to be shorter then it should be fine.

  43. John G on said:

    Thanks,
    But I still don’t understand how all the connections work.
    How do I connect the flasher (which has a 3.5mm plug) to the Cat5?
    And at the other end, how do I connect the cat5 to the 3.5mm socket on the MSU?
    It sounds like I have to do a bunch of soldering?

  44. Your Electronic Warehouse on said:

    John,
    To make these connections you need to cut the end of the cat-5 cable and splice it to the flasher and the MSU.

  45. PHILLIP STALBAUM on said:

    I have CAT5 cables pre run in my house for IR Extenders. What is the best system to use and in one location I have two cable boxes that work off of the same remote. Other than separating is there anything I can do to keep them from interfering with each other

  46. Your Electronic Warehouse on said:

    Phillip,
    I would recommend one of our Niles IR Systems. To help you the best please contact our customer support at 1-866-224-6171, and we can design a system specific to your needs.

  47. John Campo on said:

    looking for a (remote extender, if this is what it is called) that can be wall mounted to allow a cabinet concealed table top cable box to be operated from outside the cabinet.

  48. Your Electronic Warehouse on said:

    John,
    I would recommend using a Niles WS110R sensor with the Niles MSU140 and MF1VF to complete your system. This would allow you to wall mount the input sensor for you cable box.

  49. Hi – if we want ot set up remote sensors for a TV, an Amp, a DVD player and cable that all currently have seperate remotes what sort of system do we need?

  50. Your Electronic Warehouse on said:

    Sarah,
    I would recommend using a Niles Audio RCA-SM IR Kit. This will give you everything you need(ie. the Sensors, Main System Unit, and Flashers). Also you could add a Monster Remote to take the place of all the different remotes that you currently use in your system.

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