Remote Show Control with a Laptop



How To Automate A One-Man Show

Welcome! This website describes how to use a laptop, an off-the-shelf remote control, MP3s, and free or inexpensive software, to create a system that a one-man show can use to cue music on demand.  Im not selling anything here -- Ive just found a bunch of existing, reliable items that allow you to put on a better presentation single-handedly.

For the computer literate, heres a brief description:

I found an RF device that comes with a keychain transmitter and a receiver that plugs into a laptop's keyboard port. Its designed to allow you to flip through Powerpoint slides during a presentation. You can program the receiver to send whatever keystrokes you want to the laptop.

Music and sound effects cued during your show are the easiest, and most common, use of a system like this. To have music cues that you can trigger by remote, install Winamp on your laptop. Put the MP3s you want to use in a single directory. Create a playlist for the show in Winamp.  You can program the remote for various functions: Going down one track in the playlist and playing it, going up one track in the playlist, or stopping the current track and fading out.  At showtime, run Winamp, open the playlist window and load your playlist. Then just press the right button on the remote to play the first track.

The rest of this site is set up to explain all the steps -- where to order the remote, what software to use, and how to set up the system.  However, if this is new and confusing to you, find a friend whos a computer geek to help.  If hes into MP3s, he should be able to read the brief description above and look over the rest of the website and help set you up in no time.  Im happy to answer questions, but youre better off having a friend sit with you and teach you what you need to know.

-- Jeff Haas

Revised: Oct. 4, 2000. Added notes about laptop specs.
Revised: Sept. 6, 2000.  Added better remote functions for Winamp, and links for ShowPro MIDI show control software.  Also fixed typos.
Revised: April 27, 2001. Added USB, Macintosh, and speaker info.  Fixed typos that somehow escaped the last time.
Revised: May 30, 2003. Updated information on Winamp, Macintosh software, buy-out music, button assignments, and speaker info. Added references to discussions on
Revised: June 5, 2003. Added information on random-access cues and DJ software. Cleaned up some errors that crept in, plus a few formatting changes.
Revised: August 15, 2003.  Frames are gone.  Theyre dead all over the web, why should I keep them going? ShowPro MIDI is available again, so the link is back.  Updated some information on the More Than Music page.
Revised: Nov. 3, 2003. Added the Tips page, updated a few other bits of info. Added link to Stage Research and their archive of case studies.

Update: July 30, 2008. Tripod had accidentally shut the site down, its back up.  I updated some info about software Im using these days. More of it is free now!

Update: Feb. 21, 2013. Updated lots of info, removed outdated info, simplified some pages..

Email me at: jeffhaas (at)