Nirvis FAQ

Q: Where is the documentation?

A: The documentation is in the on-line help.   You can find it in the Start Menu or from the help menu in CDJ.  You can also read it on our web page here.  The local help is a lot faster and it  works best if you have Internet Explorer 4.0 or later installed on your machine.  Using Internet Explorer will make the table of contents work more quickly and enables search capability.

Q: My stereo is not near my computer so I need a longer cable.

A: We recommend putting the Slink-e near your stereo equipment and running a long RS-232 cable to your computer.  RS-232 can be driven up to 100'.  We recommend CAT-5 cabling which can be bought pre-made in an assortment of lengths, but any RS-232 cable will work.  CAT-5 cables have modular RJ-45 connectors on each end.  You can get RJ-45 to DB-9(serial) converters fairly cheap.  They can be purchased from (part numbers MA11 and MA12). These converters don't come with the pins installed but this is simple.  There will be 8 wires in each connector.   Place one wire in each of the pin holes 1-8 in the DB-9 connector and leave pin hole 9 empty.  Do the same for the other end.  Make sure to use the same color wires for the same numbered pins on each end!!  Voila, you have a really long and easy to run RS-232 cable.

Alternatively if you wan't to go wireless you can purchase devices which transmit RS-232 over RF.  The cheapest one we've heard of is around $200.  Check out this BBS post about it.

Q: Does the Slink-e work with my <such and such> model CD changer?

A: Check out our compatibility chart to find out.

Q: Which changer is the best one to buy?

A: This is a subjective question, but here are some of my opinions:

  • It's better to have two 200-disc changers than one 400-disc changer

    • Multiple changers allow you to pre-queue tracks for continuous playback

    • In future software versions you can search for discs twice as fast or play one changer while searching another

    • You can be loading / unloading one changer while playing on the other

    • Crossfading!

  • It's better to buy the cheapest model changer you can

    • The capabilities of all changers are virtually the same from within CDJ

    • It's more effective to achieve high audio quality by running multiple low cost changers into a good DAC than buying an expensive DAC for each changer (e.g. the Sony ES series).

    • You can save money, buy more changers, or a better DAC this way

    • The one good reason to buy an ES model is that the warranty is much better.

Q: Why won't CDJ upload the track titles to my Sony CDP-CX350?

A: Because the 350 doesn't support it.   Despite Sony's advertising to the contrary the CX350 only supports track titling with CDTEXT CD's (which noone has).  The only models that ever supported track titling are the CX270 and it's high end sister the 90ES.  You can still buy these if you're dying to see your track titles on a 13 character display.

Q: I want to run CDJ on my <name of very small computer>.  When are you porting CDJ to Windows CE?

A: We're not.  CDJ is a very complex and resource dependent program not well suited the limited capapilites of palm devices, cable TV boxes or toasters ovens.  We would have to strip it's functionality severely to support these platforms, and after all you bought it because of it's functionality.

Q: How can I manipulate the CDJ database in any custom way I want to?

A: The CDJ database uses the same format as Microsoft Access.  You can open it in Access and do whatever you like, including adding your own fields.

Q: Are you planning to develop a USB Slink-e?

A: We do not currently have plans for a USB device. If you have a computer that only has USB many of our users have been successful with USB to RS-232 converters including:

  • Entrega

  • Edgeport.

  • IO Gear G-UC232A

  • (Generic) USC-1000

Q: Do you make a wireless IR transmitter or receiver?

A: No we don't.  There are mass market products that do this over RF.  The POWERMID is one product we know of but have no experience with.  Ask on the BBS or the mailing list and see what other Slink-e users are doing.

Q: What is a Slink-e?

The Slink-e is a small (5" x 5") microcontroller based unit which allows your computer to communicate with infrared (IR), S-Link, Control-A, and Control-S devices such as audio and video equipment. The Slink-e interfaces to your computer using a standard RS-232 serial port, so it can work with most computers and operating systems.

Q: What can the Slink-e do?

A: The Slink-e allows your computer to control or be controlled by Sony S-Link and IR devices from most manufacturers. This means the you can use your PC to control receivers, TVs, VCRs, CD players or anything else that works via remote control. It also means that you can use remote controls to command programs you write on your computer. The Slink-e is   expandable to use up to 8 independent infrared receivers and transmitters. This allows you to use the Slink-e in every room of your house! The Slink-e is able to automatically route IR signals from room to room allowing you to control your devices from any room in the house.

Q: What software is available for the Slink-e?

A: The most popular application written for the Slink-e is CDJ, a free Windows jukebox program which can control an unlimited number of players and catalogs your CD's using the CDDB internet database. Jukebox software which uses the Slink-e is currently being developed by third parties for Macintosh and Unix platforms. Many other applications such as home automation / integration are possible with the Slink-e for those who wish to write their own software.

Q: How can I write my own software for the Slink-e?

  • An ActiveX control which allows most of the functionality of the C++ classes is available. This control allows simple, high level programming of the Slink-e in Visual Basic, Java, HTML and other languages. It also allows multiple programs to use the Slink-e at once! Sample programs are also included.
  • For people programming in Win32 using MFC / VC++ there is a another option. C++ source code for which is the basis of the above mentioned ActiveX control and server is available. This code can also be used a  model for porting to other languages or OSes.

Q: Will you supply schematics and the PIC assembly code so that I can build my own Slink-e from scratch?

A: No. The schematics are on the web page to aid those who want to do modifcations, but we do not release the PIC code.

Q: How many S-Link devices can I control with a Slink-e?

A: Each device on a S-Link bus must have a unique ID code. Sony only allowed most common types of devices to have only 3 or fewer user selectable codes. This means that currently you can only connect 3 CD changers to one S-Link bus. However, the Slink-e has 4 S-Link busses which allows it to control 12 changers at once. Furthermore, the programming model provided for the Slink-e allow you to control multiple Slink-es at once. This allows for a virtually unlimited number of CD changers, assuming you have an unlimited number of serial ports, CD changers, Slink-es, CD's, money, etc...

Q: What kinds of IR devices can I control with a Slink-e ?

A: Virtually all. The Slink-e can synthesize arbitrary IR waveforms with carrier frequencies from DC up to the MHz range. It can also use no carrier at all. Timing resolution on the waveform envelope can go down to 50 microseconds. Detection of IR signals is limited to carrier frequencies of 38kHz +/- 5kHz due to the use of an IR detector module. A program called E-Z Learn is provided to allow for simple learning of remotes.

Q: What kinds of Control-A1 devices can I control with a Slink-e ?

A: Since Control-A1 is a single format, all types of Control-A1 devices should be controllable with the Slink-e. The catch is that you must know the correct Control-A1 codes for the device you want to control. We currently have Control-A1 device files for CD, MD, tape, and receivers. Since the Slink-e allows you to listen in on Control-A1commands and responses, it is a very useful tool in determining the codes used by Control-A1 devices.

Q: How long can the RS-232, IR and S-Link cables be?

A: We have not tested the ultimate limits of RS-232, IR or S-Link, but right now we are successfully using the following

  • 100 feet of RS-232 using CAT-5 cable and modular to DB-9 adapters
  • 50 feel of S-Link using using coaxial 1/8 mono plug cable
  • 100 feet of modular phone cord to each IR reciever and transmitter module

Q: How can I make CDDB submissions using CDJ?

A: The bottom line is that CDJ doesn't allow you to make CDDB submissions. The reason is that CDDB does not want the submissions because the Sony CD changers do not report the CD's table of contents (TOC) data down to the frame-level accuracy required to generate a valid CDDB ID. The TOC data good enough to identify exisiting discs in the CDDB, but not to create new submissions. If CDJ supports CD-ROM drives or other devices capable of reading TOC data accurately in the future, this feature will be turned on. For now you might consider putting these discs in a CD-ROM drive and using a CDDB-enabled player to upload the information.

Q: Why can't I at least re-submit corrections to CDDB data I downloaded?

A: In order to protect their database from sabotage, CDDB may report incorrect CDDB IDs in the downloaded data. This means that you can't upload using this same CDDB ID.

Q: There is a hum when I connect my Slink-e to my stereo system. Why?

A: There is a "ground-loop" between your computer and your stereo system. This happens when both your computer and your stereo system are connected to the electrical ground of your home wiring. Due to some variations in the electrical potential of this ground, stray line currents flow through the wiring interconnecting these devices (in this case, the RS-232 line) and can create an audible hum at the output of the audio system. Computers have a 3-prong power connector which connects them to earth ground. Most stereo systems do not use a 3-prong plug specifically so that they do not create ground loops. However, many stereo systems today are connected directly or indirectly to cable TV, DSS or a rooftop FM antenna. Due to a potential for lightening strikes on these antennae, they are earth grounded, which creates a second ground in the system and the potential for ground loops.

The best solution is to use a RS-232 optical isolator to isolate the electrical connection between the PC and the stereo. We recommend the 232SPOP4 from B & B Electronics ( which currently costs $74.95. This isolator uses DB-25 connectors, so you will also want to get some DB-25 to DB-9 adapters which cost a few dollars each. We have found that this isolator only works well at 19.2k baud, not the 38.4k baud default settings the Slink-e has. You should set your Slink-e to 19.2k baud using SlinkeServ before using it.

Another good solution is to use the optical digital outputs to connect your CD player to the receiver instead of the analog RCA cables. This has the potential for better sound quality and electrically isolates your CD player from your receiver. In this case, you should not have any S-Link connections from the CD player or Slink-e to the receiver or the isolation will be defeated.

Q: I have set up my Slink-e to echo IR from one zone to another using SlinkeServ. Some of my remotes work, but other brands do not - why?

A: For one reason or another the output at the Slink-es transmitter is not a sufficiently accurate reproduction of the incoming signal from your remote. For new systems using the Slink-e 3.0, we recommend the use of hard-wired IR repeater systems from Xantech and other companies as a more reliable solution for echoing. For those who wish to use the built-in echoing on the Slink-e, here are the issues:

  • The Slink-es built-in IR receiver module as well as the external IR receiver modules from the Slink-e 2.0 days use components which were originally designed and optimized to be used in specific consumer products. Because of this, they have the following 3 limitations:
    1. To reduce noise and increase reception range, they are only sensitive to IR signals over a limited range of carrier frequencies, the optimal sensitivity being at about 38kHz. This means that remotes which use 32kHz or 56kHz carriers will be picked up more weakly by the receiver, potentially causing signal dropouts. SEVERITY OF EFFECT - low if signal strength is sufficient.
    2. The receivers are optimized for the signal patterns of a particular manufacturer's remote. This causes the received signal from other remotes to sometimes be distorted if their patterns are radically different from intended remote for the receiver. SEVERITY OF EFFECT - low for most remotes, high in rare cases where the remote uses very short pulse patterns.
    3. The output the receiver sends to the Slink-e does not contain information about the carrier frequency of the original IR signal. This means that the Slink-e must synthesize a carrier frequency to echo to it's transmitter output. What frequency does it choose? This parameter is set in SlinkeServ (View | Settings) for each receiver module under the heading "Echo Carrier". This means that while every IR signal received by a particular Slink-e receiver module may have a different carrier frequency, the echoed IR signal will always have the same carrier, which may not be accepted by devices with carriers far away from the value you have set. SEVERITY OF EFFECT - high in many cases. SOLUTION - picking an echo carrier frequency which is in between the frequencies of all of the devices you wish to control from this receiver via echoing  usually solves the problem. If this does not work, you should consider a Xantech repeater system.
  • Additionally, when the Slink-e echoes an IR signal, it does so by periodically sampling the receiver input and echoing it to the transmitter output. For an arbitrary input, this means that the Slink-e will introduce worst-case timing variations in the echoed output equal to the sampling period. The default sampling period for the Slink-e is 100us, so for a typical remote with 600us IR pulses, this introduces a 14% error which is usually acceptable to the receiving device. However, a remote with faster signaling, say 200us pulses, the error would become 33% which may make the signal unrecognizable.  SEVERITY OF EFFECT - high in some cases. SOLUTION - the IR sampling period can be made as small as 50us in SlinkeServ (View | Settings) which can improve the situation. In many cases, the problem with short pulses is not the sampling period, but instead large amounts of receiver distortion, as was mentioned previously in (2).