Now That’s A Good Question: Cable Box Blues

Have a question? Ask us! If we don’t know the answer, we’ll find it out for you!

Sorry for the silence yesterday! Things have been a little crazy around the Little House this week, but we’re back today with another Good Question!

Now That's A Good Question

Ainhoa asked: I have a question! I remember you guys talking about an RF remote /IR receiver a while ago and the YHL post today made it pop into my head again.
We’re building a new TV stand right now and would like to hide our cable box in there. Do you know of any universal system that works with all cable boxes? Perhaps available in Amazon so that I can buy it and have it shipped here?

No problem, Ainhoa!

Cable boxes are ugly enough on their own, but add in a DVD player and surround sound equipment and you end up with a hideous tower-o-ugly. We had our very own tower-o-ugly until my super-techie, electrical engineer husband saved the day with an IR repeater and fancy-dancy remote. Now our cable box and DVD player live in our bedroom closet (which shares a wall with the living room), leaving the living room black box free.


Hey everyone! Kevin here! I don’t see what all the fuss is about with a few black boxes sitting by the TV, but if you’re like Jess and want them hidden, here’s a few things to help.

First, if you’re wanting to complete remove your cable box from the room and hide it in near by one (this is what Jess and I are doing hide our electronics in her closet), you’ll need an RF remote. Basically, your standard remote uses a Infra-Red (IR) signal to communicate with your cable box.  This, however, requires line of sight to work.  Translation:  If you can’t see it from where you’re sitting, you can’t control it.  This is what you grew up with.

New technology incorporates Radio-Frequency (RF) into your remote.  This allows your remote to go through walls, windows, people, pets, anything for a range of a few hundred feet.  Roughly, it will have the same range as your wi-fi in your house.

Here’s the problem: RF is great, but your cable box, DVD player, and TV require IR.  Therefore, you have to have a converter on the other side of the wall that does RF to IR conversion.  If you buy the right remote, it comes with this converter.  I recommend the Logitech Harmony 900 for this task.  It can control line-of-sight electronics with IR, and also control out of sight electronics with RF + Included Converter.  Here’s the link to Amazon, but I’d search EBay first.  Other used options on EBay for cheap are the Logitech Harmony 890.  This is what we have and we got the remote and RF-IR Converter fro about $100.  Logitech works with 225,000 devices from 5,000 different suppliers.  Basically, every electronic you can find.

Logitech Harmony

For those of us with new electronics, you don’t even need an RF to IR converter.  The DirecTV Genie has built in RF, as do many smart Blu-Ray players and home entertainment systems.


I hope that helps, Ainhoa! Thanks to my amazing techie husband for explaining the IR-RF difference way better than I ever could!

If you have a Good Question that you’d like answered, submit it to us in the comments below or email us at littlehousebigheart (at) gmail (dot) com! If we don’t know the answer already, we’ll find someone who does! Happy Friday!


3 thoughts on “Now That’s A Good Question: Cable Box Blues

  1. Thank you so much guys!! I have to check it out here and see if it works with our setup. The cable box we have now is pretty old & big but if we want to upgrade to a newer one the cable company told us we’d have to pay about 150$ for it… which we definitely don’t want to do. If this remote works it would be awesome because we’d be able to stick the box in almost any closet!

  2. I have the new comcats xr box which has an rf option. In my bedroom I only have this box and a wal mounted TV. I put the box in a closet and the RF works amazingly well, never have out of synch on/off (which my wife can’t figure out. Why don’t more boxes offer the rf option and have a built ir decoder to got to other devices?

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