2014-09-28

BoxeeBox remote on XBMC



How I hooked up a standard BoxeeBox remote to XBMC / Kodi running on Windows 8

I loved the BoxeeBox, it played my movies and TV shows like a champ, found subtitles and was easy to use. The remote was awesome, it had all the buttons I really needed, entering URLs, navigating menus was easy and it look good.
Best of all it used RF instead of IR, no need for line of sight, you don't know how good that is if you haven't tried it.



Sadly BoxeeBox lost support for SVT Play web streaming service and worst of all it couldn't steam Netflix.
So I turned to XBMC, now called Kodi.
Installed it on a old busted laptop and began the setup, that last part took almost two days. They should really add a small wizard in the installer.
There I was with a new player that delivered on all of my demands, it even does steam in-home streaming (not natively of course).
Only one small detail, no remote! sure you can use your phone to control it, but to me that's just not enough, I wanted a real remote, I wanted my old awesome BoxeeBox remote.
I googled PC remotes for almost a week, there just wasn't anything like the remote i wanted. Just look at these things!
And then i found this fuzzy picture of the BoxeeBox wifi and remote circuits :

BoxeeBox Remote reciver circuit

Source http://oinkzwurgl.org/boxeebox

It almost looked like the control circuits in the BoxeeBox connects using standard USB, only 3.3volts instead of 5volts.

So, I whipped up a small circuit, not the prettiest, and probably overkill. Diodes could work, didn't try.
5v to 3.3v circuit using LD33
5v to 3.3v circuit using LD33 

Built, in project box
Built, in project box

Closeup
Closeup
But it works! windows identifies the remote as a standard keyboard.
In a case, hidden in my TV bench. Remember, RF so no line of sight is needed.

Hidden away under the TV
Hidden away under the TV
The only thing changed was the back button, windows reads it as Escape, so I went in to the xbmc settings for keyboard, called keyboard.xml and changed Escape to do back instead of PreviousMenu.


Looking back at this now, almost two years later, I find that the XBMC/Kodi wiki reference Oinkzwurgl.org as a source for hooking up a BoxeeBox remote to xbmc, link
Hope this helped with the details as the original post isn't, to me, very clear.

30 comments:

  1. Thanks for posting this! I switched from Boxee to a more powerful HTPC a while ago, and thankfully kept my old Boxee Box and remote in the basement.

    It was super quick to rip out the RF receiver and solder this up. Instead of soldering directly to the RF receiver board, I cut off the plug that had previously connected the RF receiver to the Boxee internals. This was my first time soldering anything, so soldering the wires to the voltage regulator and USB wires was a lot easier for me than soldering directly to the board.

    It worked out of the box just like you said! I also created a keymap to add some extra features that I was missing from my previous, battery-hungry bluetooth remote.

    Thanks again, seriously! I wouldn't have done it without seeing your post first.

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  2. Thanks, glad to hear it helped!

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  3. Excellent hack, following this on hackaday.com. Going to try and build this with resistors to reduce the voltage to 3.3. Although I suspect it would run fine on 5v, I'd hate to mess up the boxee RF chip.

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  4. Thanks, I still dont understand why I didnt just measure the voltages before taking it apart...
    Keep me updated :)

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    Replies
    1. I measured, it is driven with 3.3V by the BoxeeBox.

      Delete
  5. Tack för guiden, funkar utmärkt till min Hallonpaj2 :)

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  6. I see that there are USB ready modules based on the nRF24LU1+ chip. For example here:
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/nrf24lu1p-nrf24lu1-USB-Dongles-2-4G-RF-Wireless-Module-PC-Peripherals-8051-SOC-/271142502634

    Do you think there is any way to extract the firmware from the Boxee module to have it on the replacement module?

    If that can work it means that we do not have to ruin our box in order to get the receiver...

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    Replies
    1. That would be great!
      I dont have any experience reading/writing firmware, it should be possible :)

      Delete
    2. I would be interested too. It seems a bit wasteful to a boxee only for the remote (and the receiver)

      Delete
  7. Very cool - "keep it simple, stupid!" My concern is about any data transmission which the host may drive at 5V instead of 3.3V. Have you measured the data lines to see whether they are being driven at 5V? (I admit I don't have experience with USB's wire protocol, perhaps this isn't a concern for an input device.)

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    Replies
    1. Oh, haven't thought about that.. should check.
      Don't think it's any problem, been running almost 24/7 for almost two years now :)

      Delete
  8. trying to reproduce this and I have no clue what I'm doing. When I pulled out the module from the boxee the card in the circuit board has two wires attached to a WLAN AUX circuit and WLAN Main circuit...are these needed for the transformation? Do I need the wireless module card? Sorry for the newb questions..

    Also, thank you for posting this!

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    Replies
    1. The main board that we use have a smaller board attached, the wifi module, you don't need to keep that :)

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    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  9. Väldigt, väldigt bra guide / hack!
    Uppgraderade nyligen till en kraftfullare HTPC efter mycket sorg att lämna Boxee Box'en bakom mig...

    Och har ägnat en del tid att försöka hitta den officiella remote+pc adaptern som fanns precis vid launch, men utan lycka.

    Detta gör ju dock att man kan nyttja sin lilla älskade Boxee Box -kontroll till den vanliga maskinen! Trevligt :)

    Stort tack!

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  10. Hej, en fråga bara, vart fick du tag i spänningsomvandlaren?

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  11. Beställde den på electrokit, här är direktlänk:
    http://www.electrokit.com/ld1117v33.45678

    Finns säkert billigare på ebay om man har lite tålamod :)

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  12. the chip specs says it has a voltage regulator that would tak 4-5.25V
    https://www.nordicsemi.com/eng/Products/2.4GHz-RF/nRF24LU1P
    also to be true USB compatiable it HAS to take 5V

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    Replies
    1. UPDATE!!
      I found this in the datasheet:

      VBUS and VSS are the power supply and ground pins. The nRF24LU1+ can operate from a single power supply.The nRF24LU1+ contains an on-chip regulator that produces +3.3V on the VDD pins, from the VBUS supply line (4.0 – 5.25 V). Alternatively, the VBUS pin can be left open and the VDD pins may be fed from an exter-nal 3.3V supply. In this case, the on-chip 3.3V regulator is switched off.

      So if we can find the VBUS pin, it would be possible to feed 5V directly (it is propably not routed)

      Delete
  13. VBUS is routed to position 3 of a jumper between JDEBUG1 and J1. I moved a 000 smd resistor from 1-2 to 2-3, feeding USB_5V+ to VBUS instead of VDD.

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  14. can you show a way to wire this up to a usb cable ?

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  15. or does it mean i can wire the usb cable direct to the usb header with out the LD1117v33 a

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  16. Click on a picture above, then click on picture 2 of 6. Almost touching the center of the bottom of the big red oval, are a longer and shorter small solder blobs. The longer is connecting solder pads 1 and 2. As you can see in the picture, there is a circuit trace that goes from the red wire to the middle (pad 2). There is also a trace going from pad 1 (leftmost) to the 8-pin header at the bottom, then to vdd (3v3) of the remote ic. I looked at the datasheet, and traced 5Vusb of the remote ic to the rightmost (smaller solder blob) (pad 3). If you desolder the longer (left) solder blob (or 0 ohm jumper), and connect the two right pads (now longer will be on the right, and smaller on the left) make sure pad 1 (left) does not touch, you can connect usb (5v) directly to the red wire, and it will work great. When I tried before, I got a USB device has malfunctioned, but after it works perfectly.

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  17. Has anyone here had to re-pair the box with the receiver? I'm curious as to whether this is handled by software or hardware, and if dismantling my two boxes boxes means I'll have issues pairing if one somehow loses it's lock with a given receiver.

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  18. i think its software, i made 2 receivers and both remotes work on either receiver at the same time, im not sure if there is a way to pair them individually

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  19. This was much simpler than I thought after reading thru the comments here. No need to whip up any circuits at all!! Just need a soldering iron, a USB cable, a wire and some time.

    I didn't care about my old Boxee Box any more, so after throwing away the little wireless card, I also removed the cable in the Boxee Box so I could use it to wire the connector to my USB cable instead of soldering the wires onto the board.

    Then I removed the 0-ohm resistor from JR1's pads 1 and 2 and soldered a small wire in between pads 2 and 3 so I can feed 5V from the USB cable directly to VBUS.

    I took off the extra wires off the Boxee Box plug and wired the red, white, green, black wires to the same red, white, green, black wires on the USB cable.

    Plugged it into a Windows box and it detected my little card.

    Make sure the battery in the remote control is positioned correctly. I had mine upside down and it took me a while to figure out why it wasn't working, but after flipping my battery around, I was able to use the keyboard.

    In fact, I'm typing this message now with the Boxee remote!!

    Take a look at the picture to see how simple it was: http://imgur.com/8L9IfG7

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    Replies
    1. hey jack, i'm about to do this but i'm a bit lost as to where pads 2 and 3 are (i havent't disassembled my boxee yet so i'm only going off the picture you linked to). could you show or tell me where pads 2 and 3 are exactly?

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    2. This right here is the greatest part of the post. Followed this exactly and worked like a charm. Thank you for being awesome.

      Delete
  20. I do not have a boxee to show you Justin. But i can see how all this talk could get confusing. The last unknown guy could simply take a photo with markings but instead, that person decided to remind you how easy it is for him.

    Otherwise thank you all, the other time I come across a boxee, I know what I'll be working on.

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