Enhancing the HiPix Remote Control

Last updated August 8, 2002

If you can follow the instructions to download and install the latest HiPix code and drivers (step #1 below), then the rest of the Girder setup steps should be no problem for you.

Before jumping in though, take a look at the overview of the scheme below that applies to you, depending on whether you'll be using the little 7-button remote control that came with the HiPix card or a Phillips Pronto learning remote.  Then come back to the instructions which follow further down below.

  1. To use the little 7-button remote that came with your HiPix, first take a look at the drawing at this link and see if it makes sense to you.   It explains what each button on the remote control will do, depending on whether you're recording, watching digital TV (Tuner), or playing back a show.  I don't use the HiPix for watching analog TV at all (or other inputs) so there are no controls for those uses here --I've tried to limit the work to the most useful functions to keep it reasonably easy to use.
  2. If you're a Pronto owner, take a look at my Pronto screen shots at this link --you will want to use it instead.  Download my ".ccf" file from that page (or here) to your Pronto using ProntoEdit now (save your own Pronto scheme first of course --in fact, save several copies of it just in case!)

Software Versions Used:

O/S:  Only Windows ME and Windows 2000 have been tested.  The Pronto scheme has been tested only with Win2000.

HiPix:  latest version 3, application and drivers

Girder:  version 3.1.3c, which, as of August 2002, is still available for download.  Girder is now up to version 3.2.4, which might work also, but I haven't tested with it yet.

Notes about my 'test' system:

I am using an old Pentium II, 300 mhz  (slightly below the recommended minimum 333 mhz for HiPix, but it works).  I finally set it up as a dual-boot system to see if it's less troublesome under Windows 2000.  The combination of Girder and the HiPix software really push Windows ME resource limitations to the max, sometimes causing erratic behavior after running the software awhile, especially alongside other applications such as Explorer.  

Most of my problems disappeared under Windows 2000, so now I normally run the HiPix under Win2000 .  As a bonus, I can record and playback over a network using Win2000, which will not work (for me) under WinME.


Steps For Setting up the HiPix Remote Schemes

If using the Pronto, skip to step A.  If the "3-push 3-mode" scheme for the little HiPix remote makes sense to you and you want to give it a try, print a copy of the drawing for your future reference and continue.  

  1. Download & install (and make sure you have it working) the latest HiPix software+drivers from http://www.midwinter.com/hipixI haven't tested my setup with the original HiPix CD software that shipped with it, but my guess is that many of the functions might work if you want to try skipping installing the newest HiPix software.
  2. Turn off the Infrared Control in the HiPix application:
    1. On the main HiPix control window, click the "Config" button.
    2. On the "General" tab, clear the check box for "Use Remote Controller".  We're replacing that functionality with Girder, which will control the HiPix application.
  3. Download these:  
    1. Girder from the http://www.girder.nl website in the Netherlands.  Here's a direct link to the version 3.1.3c that I used.  You might want to try the newest version found at the site under the downloads section, but I haven't test with whatever version it is up to by now.
      NOTE:  Girder's file format changed to ".GML" with version 3.1  --if you already use Girder that is older than 3.1, there is a file convertor for Girder that will let you use your older Girder instruction files.  
    2. The two-way Serial Port driver (now at ver. 3.0.4 by Mark Fiechtner) from the Girder site.  I am still using version 3.03, no longer on the Girder site, and haven't tested 3.0.4 yet, but I expect it to work the same.
    3. For Method A, which uses the little 7-button HiPix remote, download my Girder instruction file from here --right-click the link & select "Save Target As..." using  Windows Explorer, other browsers may vary.
    4. For Method B, which uses the Pronto, download my Girder instruction file from here instead.
  4. Install Girder and the other files you just downloaded:
    1. Just double-click on the girder313c.exe (or later) file you downloaded in step C1 above.  Using the default settings for the installation is usually safest and least troublesome.
    2. Unzip the Serial Port driver from step C2 above.  You'll only need the file "Serial.dll" from the downloaded zip file.  Copy it to the directory "C:\Program Files\girder31\plugins\hardware" (or wherever you installed Girder if you didn't use the default location).
    3. Copy my Girder instruction file "Hipix-3push-schemeV1.GML" or "HiPixProntoScheme.GML", from step C3 above, to the directory "C:\Program Files\girder31" (or wherever you installed Girder).
    4. Run Girder.  You'll find it in the Windows Start menu:  Start-->Programs-->Girder 3.1-->Girder 3.1
  5. Configure Girder:
    1. On the Girder "Files" menu, select "Settings".
    2. Check "Auto Load", and type in the location of my Girder instruction file.  (In step C3 above, you probably copied it into the Girder installation directory as shown here.)  I recommend you check the "Launch Girder" box also, so the remote control will always be ready to run & control the HiPix.
    3. Under the next tab, "User Interface", check the two boxes shown so Girder won't actually show up on your desktop, but just appear as a icon in the system tray.  You can always click on that icon to open the full Girder interface later if you like.
    4. On the next tab, "Hardware Plugins", check the two boxes shown below.  You'll have to scroll down to get to the item "Generic Serial Port"  --it appears because we copied it into the "plugins" directory in step D2 above.
    5. Click on the "Generic Serial Support" item again (above), but don't clear it's check box.  The "Settings" button on the left should "un-gray".  Now click this "Settings" button to configure the "Generic Serial Support" driver.  You'll see the following window below.  Click the "New" button.

    6. Your computer's serial port is probably set to 9600 baud by default, so set the "Baud rate" item shown below to match.  Also set the "Device" to COM1 or COM2 to match whichever port you plugged the HiPix Infrared Sensor/Receiver into.  Finally, type "HiPix" into the "Name" field to identify this setup, and click "Ok" to save the settings.
        PRESS APPLY, then OK
    7. After closing the window above, you'll be back at the Girder settings window below.  On the next tab, "Action Plugins", check the box below to enable the Alarm Timer capability.
        PRESS APPLY, then OK
    8. Now, you should be back at the main Girder window.  Under the "File" menu, select "Enable Input Device(s)".   Along the bottom of the Girder window you should see "Input Device Enabled", "Girder Enabled", and the BLUE indicator in the lower right corner should turn GREEN.  If not, go back and make sure you've followed the steps above correctly.
  6. Test it out:
    1. If you have the HiPix application running, shut it down.  
    2. Also shut down Girder.
    3. Restart Girder from the Windows Start menu.  It should start up with no window, just a little remote control icon in the system tray.
    4. Aim your HiPix remote control at the infrared pickup and press any button.  The HiPix application should start up, --unless you're using a Pronto controller.  In that case, select the "HiPix" device on the home panel, then press the "Start HiPix" button.
      If it does not start, you probably don't have the HiPix application installed at the default location of  "C:\Program Files\HiPix DTV-200\".  My Girder file starts it from there.  Here's how you can change it if necessary. Another possibility, check the COM port baud speed setting on your particular computer.
    5. Try changing channels & volume (single key-presses).
    6. Before trying to record and playback with the remote control, establish a "default" recording directory for HiPix this way:
      1. Use a directory that is empty or contains ONLY your HiPix program recordings --no other kind of files!  I use "F:\HDTV", where "F:" is a removable hard disk drive.  You can start with an existing HiPix directory, but it shouldn't contain anything else but HiPix recordings, each of which is a directory that contains a set of files that make up a HiPix recording.  Examples:
        F:\HDTV\Star Trek
      2. From the HiPix main window, click the "Timer" button, and then the "Create File" button in the programming window.  Point it to your default recording directory, and pick any name you like for this test recording.  Then set it to record a minute or so and let the recording happen.
      3. Return the HiPix to playing TV, (the default state that the Girder instruction files expect)  You can also reset HiPix to the initial state with the remote:  hold down the CH+ to close HiPix, wait a few moments for it to shut down, then press any key to restart the HiPix, or in the Pronto scheme, just press the "Reset" button.
    7. Now you can try playing back the recording you just made.  Or make another new recording using the remote control this time.  PLEASE READ THE WARNING (item iv. below) about using the "Erase current program" - if you accidentally erase a favorite recording by mistake, please don't blame me!  Put it in safe directory, write protect it, or otherwise back it up!
    8. Finally, if you're using the small HiPix remote, refer to the remote control reference drawing that you printed earlier to help you remember what each button does and and how many times to press it.

I hope you find added functionality for the standard HiPix remote control and sensor pickup as useful as I have.

Assumptions & warnings affecting successful operation (that I'm aware of at the moment):

  1. That HiPix was installed into the default location:  "C:\Program Files\HiPix DTV-200\"

  2. For recording and show selection during playback, HiPix has been "pointed" to a default directory containing no other files except HiPix recordings' subdirectories.  E.g., "D:\HDTV", where HDTV originally started out as an empty directory.  If you add other kinds of files, it may try to treat them as program file directories.

  3. My Girder instruction file drives the HiPix application mainly with keystrokes, so it doesn't usually "know" which state the HiPix is in --whether it's recording, playing a file, or showing live TV.  If you manually intervene to control the HiPix to change between these 3 actions (states), it may get out of sync with what Girder thinks is happening.  The simplest fix is just to use Girder to shut down HiPix and then restart it:  hold the CH+ button down to stop it, wait a few moments for it to shut down, then press any key to restart the HiPix.  With the Pronto, there's a "Reset" button on the main panel that will do this.

  4. Be careful with the "Erase current show" button, especially if you're running Windows 98 or ME.  Test your system with a lot of test recordings you don't care about losing.  If a low resource condition occurs (very possible if you start using a lot of the other HiPix configuration menus, running other programs, running the Girder window onscreen, etc.) then you might accidentally erase a program you wanted to keep!  Because the file menus are being driven by keystrokes, Girder has to assume the computer is performing correctly.  I put in as much reality checking as I could, but it's an unfortunate drawback to this rather blind method of interfacing to the HiPix and Windows.

  5. Automatic shutdown of your computer.  For this to work depends on whether your computer is able and configured properly to power down all the way.  If you look at the Girder control file, you'll see that the power down command is either an "OS" call to shutdown, or to execute a file.  I don't own the shutdown file to give it out.  For Windows 2000, the best solution I found on the web to shutdown your computer was (and hopefully still is) at this site:  http://www.loa.espci.fr/winnt/logoff/logoff.htm  The program is provided for free, much cheaper than buying Microsoft's Win2000 resource kit to get their "shutdown.exe" program.  Just point Girder to "execute" this file for the shutdown of Windows 2000.  "logoff.exe -p" should do the job if your computer is capable.


A final note:  please don't ask me for customized versions of this Girder file --I try to have a life too.  If you need to make changes, the Girder site has some pretty good help files to help you learn how to write your own Girder commands.  I've tried to make my own Girder file as readable as possible, but there are some quirks unique to working with Girder.


Changing where the Girder file starts up the HiPix application:

Open the Girder window by right-clicking it's icon in the system tray.  Expand the Girder command tree as shown above to locate & highlight "START HiPix Application".  Change the location specified in the "File" entry box field on the lower right of the window.  Be sure to press the "APPLY" button, and then save the change before shutting Girder down.

Explore the rest of the commands in this tree that I wrote if you like.  Maybe you'll come up with a better scheme or one that suits you better!

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