The MSC-400 attempts to solve this problem in two ways. First, it uses the special RFX-250 RF receiver which goes a long way towards eliminating possible sources of interference right at the source, both by incorporating narrow-band technology to ignore much of the noise in adjacent frequencies, and by being remote-locatable up to 150 feet (46 meters) away from the actual system. By themselves these two improvements already result in far more reliable daily operation than older RF extenders, but the MSC-400 takes everything a step further by also storing all macros on-board. So, when a “Power On” macro is played on a MX-900/MSC-400 system, instead of transmitting the sum total of that macro from the remote it merely sends a short digital trigger to the MSC-400. The MSC-400 then looks up that macro in its internal memory and plays it back without any further communication from the remote. Once a macro trigger is recognized RF is removed from the equation, guaranteeing that every step will be reliably transmitted.
Another good reason to get the MSC-400 is to deal with devices that don’t have discrete infrared commands, but do reliably put out composite video when they’re on (such as a DVD player) or have some sort of switched voltage output (such as a receiver or cable box). Universal Remote Control doesn’t ship any of these sensors with the MSC-400 by default, but the VID video sensor cable and VS100 voltage sensor cable can be purchased separately or in the MSC-START starter package, which also includes special infrared emitters sporting plastic sleeved jacks (which must be used on IR ports 7 through 12) and a couple of serial cables.
Mixing oil and water.
When competently configured the MSC-400 and remote control will operate seamlessly as a single entity to the end user, but from a programmer’s perspective the combination is rather awkward and makes one feel as if they are attempting to harmoniously combine two completely unrelated systems. The MSC-400 uses its own programming software, MSC-400 Editor, which doesn’t integrate with MX-900 Editor. The company does offer a Complete Control Suite program that attempts to combine all of their separate applications into one, but in reality the Suite boils down to naught but a quick-launch shortcut toolbar and way to live-update the individual applications in one fell swoop.
Before using MSC-400 Editor, it’s typically necessary to start configuring the base remote control. After starting a new configuration in MX-900 Editor, follow the numbered steps to add all of the devices and commands that will be used with the home theater system. But when it comes time to start step number 5, Macros, don’t do anything as you’d be wasting your time. It’s time to save the MXG file, take a break from MX-900 Editor, and hop over to MSC-400 Editor. We reviewed version 1.10.146.
MSC Editor presents a familiar interface with a tree view on the left and an editing region in the middle. As with MX-900 Editor, the “Program” menu presents a list of steps necessary to quickly finish programming.
Seven steps to a better system.
The first task with a new MSC-400 .MSF configuration is to add a list of “connected devices” – which is basically anything that the MSC-400 will monitor or communicate with. Devices can be imported from other configuration files (such as the MX-900 file we just created), or by populating them using MSC Editor’s built-in IR and serial device database. As the command list for an IR-based Connected Device cannot have any changes made to it once imported, ensure that all needed commands are functional beforehand. When finished, everything will be added to a separate “Connected Devices” list at the top of the main tree view.