Older (PPC/earlier Intel) Macs and the iPod Universal Dock

B S Magnet

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It’s possible my search queries are simply missing the mark on this. Maybe someone here knows (or maybe this is better suited for the iPod forum).

I have the 2005 edition of the iPod Universal Dock (and I also have one of the first edition white remotes bundled with early MacBooks and MacBook Pros). I’ve had it for years, but I’ve rarely commissioned it to do much more than to charge an iPod Nano* or swap out tracks on iTunes.

Does anyone know of a way (or even an after-the-fact, third-party hack, in the vein of the old Salling Clicker) to configure use of the remote control with the IR receiver on the dock to, say, control features on an older PPC system, such as a Power Mac G5 or PowerBook G4?

What brought this to mind was the thought that if the Dock is connected to a computer via 30-pin-to-USB cable (which it is), might there be a way to, say, control iTunes or VLC on the computer via remote control?

Anyway, I won’t be stunned to learn there is no way, but I may as well throw this out there.

• Speaking of which, was there ever a base adapter made for the 5th gen iPod Nano? If so, does anyone here have a rando one they’d prefer to drop in the post instead of letting languish forever? :)
 
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eyoungren

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I know that the iTunes Remote app (https://apps.apple.com/us/app/itunes-remote/id284417350) allows you to connect to iTunes (using Home Sharing) and that through that app you can control iTunes.

What I'm not sure about is if it will still work with iTunes 10.6.3, the last version to run on PowerPC.

I know that doesn't directly answer your question but it's what I've used in the past. I just cannot recall whether it was iTunes on my MBP or iTunes on my G4 or G5.
 

B S Magnet

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I know that the iTunes Remote app (https://apps.apple.com/us/app/itunes-remote/id284417350) allows you to connect to iTunes (using Home Sharing) and that through that app you can control iTunes.

What I'm not sure about is if it will still work with iTunes 10.6.3, the last version to run on PowerPC.

I know that doesn't directly answer your question but it's what I've used in the past. I just cannot recall whether it was iTunes on my MBP or iTunes on my G4 or G5.
That’s far more advanced than what I’m pondering about.

Basically, the old Apple remote control was a “dumb” controller with physical buttons (I prefer this over a GUI-based “smart” remote app, which I have already for my android phone for controlling iTunes 10.6.3).

On a MacBook/Pro with built-in iR receiver (everything Unibody-era backward to Core 2 Duo models), the “dumb” remote will trigger Front Row to launch by default. When aiming the remote at at the Dock’s IR base (which is connected to the system via USB), it doesn’t trigger Front Row (or anything, for that matter).

Basically, I’m trying to suss whether there’s a way for that dock IR receiver to pass along “dumb” remote control commands to the system. I’m not sure it was ever possible, though.

EDIT: Per this remark from the 2008–era Universal Dock manual (I don’t think the 2005 version came with one), it would seem there were probably firmware/EFI-level instructions which enabled the remote receiver only on systems which were bundled by design with an IR receiver (like the iMac G5 “iSight” edition), but probably not any system onto which an IR receiver (such as the one on the Apple Universal Dock) was included:

upload_2019-7-5_0-44-11.png


I’m now pondering what it might take for the OS (or perhaps Open Firmware) to recognize an external IR receiver as a native (read: internal) device.
 
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z970mp

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EDIT: Per this remark from the 2008–era Universal Dock manual (I don’t think the 2005 version came with one), it would seem there were probably firmware/EFI-level instructions which enabled the remote receiver only on systems which were bundled by design with an IR receiver (like the iMac G5 “iSight” edition), but probably not any system onto which an IR receiver (such as the one on the Apple Universal Dock) was included:
My guess as to why they specified that little detail to the average Apple consumer is that they probably weren't expecting anyone to use their Dock as an IR dongle for their IR-less Mac, and were probably just spelling it out to those who didn't realize the out-of-box compatibility issue.

Not necessarily that IR-less Open Firmware builds didn't have the tools to communicate with IR devices, even through hardware extensions.

But that's just my take. I could see it happening.
 

Slix

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I recently got a new iPhone dock (for the original iPhone!) at a thrift store, and tried to look up info about it, and to my surprise there's very few articles about the iPod docks out there. I'm pretty sure there's a dock adapter for the 1st gen iPod nano. I can double check.

That said, I also recently got an Apple TV 1st gen, and I use a white Apple Remote with my early Intel Mac Mini downstairs to control the volume when I'm exercising and watching YouTube (TenFiveTube for the win!). The article that mentions pairing the remote with only one device works like this: Hold the Menu+Next Track buttons while aiming at the nearest receiver (the dock, an iSight G5, Apple TV, whatever), and it will pair to only that device. This is useful if you have more than one receiver in the same room. Otherwise you end up controlling volume on two different Macs at once, for instance.

I don't know of any ways to make the Universal iPod Dock's IR sensor communicate with the Mac. Now that you say this though, I really want it to happen too. I would guess somewhere there's a hack someone made back when they were released, but they either were lost to time (I tried to search the WayBack Machine, but no luck) or didn't gain traction at all.
 
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B S Magnet

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I recently got a new iPhone dock (for the original iPhone!) at a thrift store, and tried to look up info about it, and to my surprise there's very few articles about the iPod docks out there. I'm pretty sure there's a dock adapter for the 1st gen iPod nano. I can double check.

That said, I also recently got an Apple TV 1st gen, and I use a white Apple Remote with my early Intel Mac Mini downstairs to control the volume when I'm exercising and watching YouTube (TenFiveTube for the win!). The article that mentions pairing the remote with only one device works like this: Hold the Menu+Next Track buttons while aiming at the nearest receiver (the dock, an iSight G5, Apple TV, whatever), and it will pair to only that device. This is useful if you have more than one receiver in the same room. Otherwise you end up controlling volume on two different Macs at once, for instance.

I don't know of any ways to make the Universal iPod Dock's IR sensor communicate with the Mac. Now that you say this though, I really want it to happen too. I would guess somewhere there's a hack someone made back when they were released, but they either were lost to time (I tried to search the WayBack Machine, but no luck) or didn't gain traction at all.
[Yes, there was an adapter for the 1st-gen iPod Nano (which I used back when I had a 1st-gen Nano), as well as the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th-gen Nanos. When I bought the 4th-gen Nano, new-in-box at the Apple Store, it also included a tailor-made adapter plate for the Dock). I think there was probably a 5th-gen Nano dock adapter made as well, but I bought my 5th-gen Nano used (and without the original box/accessories).]

As for this topic:

Un-mounting and removing the iPod Nano (in this case, the fourth-gen was on there) still shows in System Profiler (the G5 running Leopard, first and second images) that that USB bus recognizes how there’s an iPod device reserved for that Dock, but it doesn’t identify the Dock as an IR-capable device (despite it being able to receive signal from an Apple Remote).

To compare this with System Profiler on the unibody MacBook Pro I have (running Snow Leopard, third image) reveals how the system is aware that the internal IR device on an USB hub linked with the USB port closest to the MagSafe adapter is, indeed, an IR device with a low-speed data transfer interface:

upload_2019-7-6_0-26-47.png upload_2019-7-6_0-27-9.png upload_2019-7-6_0-31-4.png
 
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Fami7455

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The IR receiver in the Universal Dock is in no way connected to the USB bus of the computer. It communicates with the iPod via a serial link designed specifically for accessories. There is no way to get it to talk to the computer, AFAIK.

However, there might be a way to add an external IR receiver to a PPC Mac, as the IR receivers communicate via an internal USB bus (As noted in the post above me), which can be converted into a regular USB plug. (They also run at 3.3V instead of 5V, but that can be fixed by adding two diodes in series with the power rail- I added a Bluetooth module from an Intel iMac to my Beige G3 DT this way). I don't think there's any OpenFirmware involvement in this. I think I have a spare internal IR receiver somewhere, if I do find it I'll test such a theory. Can't make any promises, though.
 
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B S Magnet

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The IR receiver in the Universal Dock is in no way connected to the USB bus of the computer. It communicates with the iPod via a serial link designed specifically for accessories. There is no way to get it to talk to the computer, AFAIK.

However, there might be a way to add an external IR receiver to a PPC Mac, as the IR receivers communicate via an internal USB bus (As noted in the post above me), which can be converted into a regular USB plug. (They also run at 3.3V instead of 5V, but that can be fixed by adding two diodes in series with the power rail- I added a Bluetooth module from an Intel iMac to my Beige G3 DT this way). I don't think there's any OpenFirmware involvement in this. I think I have a spare internal IR receiver somewhere, if I do find it I'll test such a theory. Can't make any promises, though.
This is especially helpful information about how the Dock IR is wired, thank you.

I’ve run into IR receivers which use a TRRS-style minijack, but I’ve yet to run into one which was expressly USB (with a USB-A-style plug).

Separately, you’ve also given me an idea on how to resolve another problem relating to something else entirely. For that, thanks²!
 

Slix

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[Yes, there was an adapter for the 1st-gen iPod Nano (which I used back when I had a 1st-gen Nano), as well as the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th-gen Nanos. When I bought the 4th-gen Nano, new-in-box at the Apple Store, it also included a tailor-made adapter plate for the Dock). I think there was probably a 5th-gen Nano dock adapter made as well, but I bought my 5th-gen Nano used (and without the original box/accessories).]

As for this topic:

Un-mounting and removing the iPod Nano (in this case, the fourth-gen was on there) still shows in System Profiler (the G5 running Leopard, first and second images) that that USB bus recognizes how there’s an iPod device reserved for that Dock, but it doesn’t identify the Dock as an IR-capable device (despite it being able to receive signal from an Apple Remote).

To compare this with System Profiler on the unibody MacBook Pro I have (running Snow Leopard, third image) reveals how the system is aware that the internal IR device on an USB hub linked with the USB port closest to the MagSafe adapter is, indeed, an IR device with a low-speed data transfer interface:

View attachment 846936 View attachment 846937 View attachment 846938
I just realized I misread the first post. Not sure about 5th gen nano... Isn't it the same size as the 4th? Or is it slightly different? The 5th gen is one of the few iPods I don't have!

As for the rest of this thread, it looks like we all learned something new. I'll keep an eye to see if you guys discover any more!
 

z970mp

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Not sure about 5th gen nano... Isn't it the same size as the 4th? Or is it slightly different? The 5th gen is one of the few iPods I don't have!
To my knowledge, it is essentially of the same physical build.

However, it has a glossy exterior and added video camera functionality.

- 5th Gen Owner
 
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Fami7455

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This is especially helpful information about how the Dock IR is wired, thank you.

I’ve run into IR receivers which use a TRRS-style minijack, but I’ve yet to run into one which was expressly USB (with a USB-A-style plug).

Separately, you’ve also given me an idea on how to resolve another problem relating to something else entirely. For that, thanks²!
No problem.

As for the USB receiver, I remember having some multimedia HP box back when Windows Media Center was all the rage, and it came with a USB IR receiver. It also had TRRS inputs in the back to plug in an extra receiver and a transmitter, presumably for a set top box.

I also looked through my spares yesterday and could only find the cable for the internal receiver, but not the receiver itself... I'll see if I can find one for cheap/free somewhere, because now I really want to try it on older Macs.
 
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