How To Setup IR Remote Control Access In Windows With WinLIRC

WinLIRC, unlike its Linux-based sibling, is a finicky priss to get working. I tried to follow the setup guide on their website, but it was getting late and I could no longer make heads or tails of what they were trying to convey. Starting fresh this morning, I took to futzing around with the settings until I had it working correctly.

Installing WinLIRC is as simple as downloading the zip file from SourceForge and extracting it to any location on your computer. For simplicity, I stuck the application folder in C:\

Screen Shot 2015-04-12 at 12.17.00 PM
“Program Files”? Shit just gets lost in there!

When you first run WinLIRC, you will get this error message off the bat:


Okay, I haven’t even defined a configuration, so obviously nothing’s going to work! Thanks, WinLIRC! Click “OK” and you’ll be taken to the main Setup window.

10 In the top section, choose the Input Plugin that is compatible with your remote. Since I’m using the SIIG Vista MCE Remote, I’m going to choose one of the MCEVista* plugins, and since my copy of Windows is 64-bit, I need the MCEVIsta64.dll plugin to drive my remote.

Screen Shot 2015-04-12 at 12.22.00 PM In the next section, you have to specify the configuration for the remote itself. Some fine folks have done a great job of writing a configuration file for almost every remote you might run across, so going to pop over to their website and grab /remotes/mceusb/lirc.conf.mceusb (right-click->”Save link as…”), saving it into the WinLIRC folder.

Screen Shot 2015-04-12 at 12.29.50 PMClick “OK” at the bottom, and you will likely get this message:




tumblr_lcttnsi9AX1qb5bn1Screen Shot 2015-04-12 at 12.43.25 PM



Rage_table_flipSo, how do you get it to work? The trick is that you can’t simply right-click->”Run as administrator”. Oh, no! You have to edit the properties so that it runs at elevated privileges all the time!

No, not here. One more step....
No, not here. One more step….

In the Properties dialog, click the “Compatibility” tab, and, at the bottom, don’t simply check “Run this program as administrator”. Click the button underneath that says “Change settings for all users”. THEN check “Run this program as administrator”!

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Okay, NOW you can check the box.

Try running WinLIRC again and you should see the system tray icon come up and you should no longer get the dreaded “Error Window of Doom”.

Now that you have WinLIRC properly configured and receiving signals from your remote, you’re going to need some way to parse those signals into useful commands….

Windows 10 Dealbreakers

Ever the optimist, I jumped feet-first into Windows 10 on the VCR, because there isn’t much documentation on the sorts of things I’m trying to do with Windows and the project. For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been blazing a trail through the digital wilderness trying to get peripherals and software working perfectly under the new OS, and I hate to say that I’ve run across some glaring dead-ends.

The first to go was the real support for my remote control. Because it uses the MCE protocol, which is no longer supported by Windows 10 (since they dispensed with MCE in a vaguely boneheaded move to sell more XBones? [Pun intended]). WinLIRC, which was already a finicky primadonna under 7 has simply refused to work more than once under Windows 10. The Xbox 360 remote still works (sorta), but I prefer to have the different protocols so I’m not transmitting odd signals to one machine or the other. I’ve been having to use a keyboard and mouse combo primarily for simple navigation, which is getting old, so I decided to give the gamepad a go. Which leads to dealbreaker number 2.

Either Logitech is not supporting its devices properly or Microsoft has decided to abandon support for generic X-Input devices. Probably both. Logitech has taken the official position that gamepads should use Direct-Input and map controls through their proprietary software which immediately does not work because I lose the programmable functionality of the “Guide” button which I will make extensive use of in future upgrades to the system.

It stands to be said that the only reason I am using Windows in the first place is for proper game support. Instead of a hacked-up solution involving WINE under Ubuntu, I would rather have the operating environment with minimal “intrusion”. Granted, for media and hardware support, I would rather be running under Ubuntu anyway, but I’ve got to sacrifice one to get the other.

How to use a USB IR blaster with WinLIRC

Assuming your homebrew IR blaster works correctly, you should now be able to send commands to your USB IR blaster with WinLIRC (or simply LIRC under Linux, the commands are nearly the same).

Setting up WinLIRC for an FTDI-driven blaster is as simple as selecting the “SerialDevice.dll” plugin and the appropriate config file.

Image credit: WinLIRC/Ian Curtis
Image credit: WinLIRC/Ian Curtis

The WinLIRC config files are available from the WinLIRC remote database on Sourceforge. Download the one that matches your receiver or device, and place that file in the “Config” dialog. If your particular device is not available from the database, you will need to create your own config file. WinLIRC includes a tool that will allow you to capture commands using a USB IR receiver and play them back using your blaster. Click the “OK” button and WinLIRC should have no trouble connecting to your blaster.

Testing your USB IR blaster with WinLIRC

In the WinLIRC control window, you can select from two dropdown menus, one for remotes and one for commands. Choose the appropriate selections from each menu, and send the command to verify that your settings are correct.