IR blasters can be used to control multiple IR devices through infrared, or other interfaces, for example DVR can use such device to change the channel of a set-top box just before recording.
RedRat-X is one of those devices for automating control of TVs, STBs and other infrared equipment, but it’s quite more versatile, as beside its built-in IR blaster, it adds 3 IR outputs were you can connect your own IR transmitters, as well as USB and Ethernet for remote controls. Furthermore, it can also take add-on modules to emulate Bluetooth and RF4CE remote controls.
- IR blaster via the front of the unit. 0 mA to 250 mA in 100 steps.
- 3x plug-in IR jack sockets which can be used in two modes:
- Optional add-on modules – Bluetooth or RF4CE functionality
- Control Interfaces – USB or Ethernet
- Misc – Multicolor indicator LEDs
- Power Supply – 5V via USB
- Power Consumption – <= 2W in normal operation.
- Dimensions – 11.5cm x 7.5cm x 2.5cm
The company (RedRat) also offers a range of software solutions to control and manage their IR blasters including RedRat Device Manager for initial setup, configuration and firmware updates, IR Signal Database Utility to record your existing remote control codes, and RedRat’s Scheduler application to automate your setup.
In order to get even more control, TestManager application provides script based control of STBs, and an NET SDK working on Windows (using .NET), as well as Mac OS and Linux machines (using Mono). The company also mentioned RedRatHub application, which provides a socket based mechanism to send instructions to RedRat hardware with sample client code written in Python, C#, Perl, or PHP. The company only advertises the solution for audio-visual applications, but it might be possible to integrate it into home automation system to control air conditioners, door bells, light bulbs, etc…
RedRat-X is specialized hardware with the box selling for £250 ex VAT ($331 US). You’ll find more details about hardware, software, and documentation on the product page. You might be possible to reproduce something similar with a Raspberry Pi 3 + infrared HAT, and optional Bluetooth and RF4CE USB dongles, but then all the software part would be on you.