completely Clueless and need help

Discussion in 'Smart Home, Climate Control & Security Forum' started by beasty54, Aug 17, 2006.

  1. beasty54

    beasty54
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    I have just purchased the Harmony 885 remote to control my AV equipment and i am now looking at controlling my room lighting and adding a blind to the room window that i can control as well. Is this possible using the Harmony 885, and if so what equipment would i need to do the above

    thx in advance
     
  2. IVB

    IVB
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    What kind of lighting do you have?

    You could always hook up the lighting to a home automation PC, then use an IR receiver to catch the 885 IR signals and have the PC take action against the lights based on that input.
     
  3. beasty54

    beasty54
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    I have 3 wall lights which are independant to each other (hope thats what you mean)

    The home automation pc sounds like a good idea. What sort of equipment would i need to have the remote (and pc) control the lights and blind
    What sort of blind would i need ...... sorry for all the questions but when it comes to home automation i have no idea at all :suicide:
     
  4. beasty54

    beasty54
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    Anyone got any more info that can help me out, i really haven't got a clue :suicide:
     
  5. IVB

    IVB
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    Sorry, work got real busy.

    By "what kind of lighting", I meant "is it automated at all"? I.E., X10, zWave, etc. There's basically 3 types of automated lighting controls:

    1) Power Line controlled. X10, UPB, Insteon are all types of lighting protocols that travel over the electric lines in your house. IYou put in a special light switch and it'll pick up the signal. I'm in the US, so i'm not sure which of these are better or worse for the 220/240V lines you have. Regardless, the downside is that PLC protocols are very susceptible to "dirty power lines". For example, my house is 95 years old, and I do NOT have good quality lines running everywhere. I also have an electric dryer, and large dirty devices like that are known to wreck havoc on PLC protocols.

    2) RF protocols. These travel through the air. I *think* zWave is an RF protocol, there's also RadioRA. These are not susceptible to power line issues, but you do need to have a minimum # of nodes in your house in order to create a good network. As with PLC, you need special switches.

    3) Hardwired protocols. These use an actual 2nd set of wires running to a special lightswitch from the master controller to tell it to turn on/off/etc. Think of the difference between a wireless LAN and a wired LAN. With a wired LAN, you KNOW the connection is going to work. With wifi, you have to worry about dropouts/etc. Hence, hardwired is the king and for anyone doing new construction, definitely look into hardwired protocols. C-Bus is a DIY friendly option readily available in the UK. The two big downsides with hardwired protocols are 1) it requires a good understanding of electrical codes & knowledge, so you don't burn down your house. 2) Not really feasible for an existing house, as you gotta run all new wiring to each switch.

    In each scenario, you can hook in a controller to your PC and have it send the signals to turn your lighting on/off/etc. Once you decide which path above, just buy the right controller.

    For blinds, you could stick with something simple like IR controlled curtains, then use something like the USB-UIRT to control them. Here's a thread with a video of mine. I haven't yet hooked it into the PC, if only b/c the remote control works fine and I've got soooo many other projects to work on.

    Hope that helps, I'm sure you've got a ton more questions, let me know what they are.
     
  6. beasty54

    beasty54
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    Hi... thx for the excellent reply.

    Basically i have No home automation equipment at all.

    From reading your advice i think RF is going to be the best way to go as i'd like fixtures that i can remove if i move home. i only live in an appartment so the distance between my main room and the rest of the aprtment is minimal.
    Is it possible to have all the lights hooked up to my pc via RF but also be controllable with my harmony 885 by using some kind of IR to RF converter (if there is such a thing)
    As i said in my previous post, i'd also like to have a blind or a motorized curtain rail installed that i can control via the pc or harmony, is this possible?

    Based on the info above what equipment would i need to get started.

    thx :smashin:
     
  7. IVB

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    so from hereon out, everything i'll say is theoretical, as i'm looking to get into this in a few months. I know some folks who use the same software I do are doing all this, you could ask over on those forums ( http://www.charmedquark.com/vb_forum/index.php ). There's several UK/european folks who could give you better guidance as to what's available where, how much, etc.

    There's 2 primary options: zWave and RadioRA. RadioRA is more expensive, but much more reliable.

    You need
    - physical switches [ie those that go into the wall in place of your current switches]
    - computer interface controller
    - potentially a "master" controller (not sure if the computer controller can be the one you use to initially set it all up, or if you need a seperate one)
    - software to control

    Now for software, you have a few options. I'll give you the full theoretical list that I know of, along with my commentary. Also, prices are in US$, I prefer not to think about how cheap this is in Euro's as it'll remind me that i won't be able to travel there anytime soon.

    - HomeSeer. ~$200. I don't think this supports RadioRA, pretty sure there's a zWave module. But, there's been a TON of angst about HomeSeer lately, my entirely personal opinion is that it's an older architecture and more of a "hack" product.
    - Cinemar. $200-$1400. More of a front-end product, but as of their last version a few weeks ago, there's some limited Home Automation. Definitely does not support RadioRA, may do zWave. Price is deceptively low - they follow a "pay for every little thing" price model, where you'll end up paying a ton of $$ over time. Your entry price would probably be around $200, and quickly quickly rise as you want to do more. Plus, they don't really support that many devices, not a true home automation solution.
    - Charmed Quark [CQC - www.charmedquark.com]. - $495 full license(now until V2.0 is released, then it goes up to $495 base, $895 full license). This is a professional level product that's "DIY-friendly". Clearly the most robust and highest quality product, all drivers are free, true client/server networked product.

    I'm sure there's more options, but in my entirely personal opinion, HA is a slippery slope. Once you start with something small, you're going to want to have a system that grows with you, so I just bought CQC and was done with it.

    Check out the site in my sig if you want to see everything that I'm currently controlling.
     

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