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first tentative steps!!

Discussion in 'Smart Home, Climate Control & Security Forum' started by noel-pilot, Apr 16, 2005.

  1. noel-pilot

    noel-pilot
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    hey all,
    thank god for these forums! the wealth of info is fantastic!

    right here goes....
    After going to the smart home show yesterday it has given me some incentive to start thinking seriously about what I want to start learning and doing in my home.

    Hav just bought a very cheap X10 starter kit to play with, but now reading more Im thinking that maybe X10 isn't the way to go.

    I have my idea for distribution of video sources and audio pretty much sorted (mostly using a couple of computers connected to a server and maybe a media centre extender but more likely a very nice chipped xbox!!)

    so im now looking at lighting.....I thought X10 was going to be the nice easy answer but im not so sure now.

    Unfortunately I don't have the budget for crestron style systems!

    Looking to be able to have control over my lights, dimming as well with the ability to have scenes, e.g. movie where downlighters over a screen go down, but the seats area stays lit but dimly.

    So what are my options everyone, Ideally I would like to be able to do it modularly room by room, maybe, control over IR from a suitable universal remote that would do all my AV stuff too, and maybe one day some cool little touch screens in the wall a la crestron.

    So please help! comments, opinions, experience or links to sites very very much appreciated

    Thanks
     
  2. jlcrawford

    jlcrawford
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    I spent a day at the smart home/housebuilder show yesterday and was thinking of using the LD 11 dimmermodule and their appropriate switches to run a few circuits of lighting namely Hall, Landing and masterBedroom.
    I think this can be then controlled using Xlobby software from a touchscreen or timer connected to the PC media server.A transceiver module would allow remote control.
    This would be a cheapish way to control a few zones but I would like to know if X10 is the best way to go.Also would I still be able to do 2gang 2 way to manually control the switches from both upstairs and down (working on the Hall and Lighting)
    Also a thanks to simply automate for the free entry tickets.
     
  3. noel-pilot

    noel-pilot
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    hiya!! how'd you like the show? I thought it was good if a little less advanced than I thought! Lots of companies pushing their proprietary goods and VERY expensive black boxes, very dismissive of the capabilities pc's are bringing in!
    Good day tho! shame i'd bought my ticket before I'd found a couple of free ticket links!!

    Anyway......As to the X10 I think you are thinking the same way as me. I am reading as much as I can and will await further response but I think I'm going to be looking at something more along the lines of the digidim kinda thing. Expensive tho :( £650 ish for one room, 4 channels. Nice function tho!

    Anyone any alternatives or further advice, I don't really want to be using RF remote controls because thats then another remote! IR is what I want I think, coupled with the mood lighting ability.

    Hope you all out there who have done this can give a couple of new starters in this area a hint!!
     
  4. sofa-spud

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    Noel pliot, which starter kit did you get? PC interface(CM12)? if so I suspect it will have the activehome software with it?

    Have a look at www.homeseer.com for a much better solution, its what I and many others use.
    Another is www.misterhouse.com if you are into perl...

    I use X-10 extensively here and find it works fine, but you can get problems esp in older properties (mine was rewired in the 70's I believe). The 'problem' is often noisy PSU's in other equipment, or sometimes RCD's blocking the rf over mains between circuits.

    jlcrawford,
    The local control connections on the LD11's are to connect a momentary(pushbutton) switch, you can connect several in parallel to do the 2 way hall/landing you describe. These also allow better control than the plug in types(LM12).


    The big reason I use X10 is the retrofit nature, I'm not prepared to perform major works to run cables to wall switches etc which is needed for many systems(Clipsal etc), X10 is almost plug n play. The downside is the slow speed of X10 if you need to fire multiple devices(if they are all on the same house code you can 'group' similar though).
    There are other options available such as Z-wave. These use rf over the air rather than via the mains.

    I have a server runing 24/7 and operates as the HA & Music server, and fileserver for the HTPC.
    With the webserver in Homeseer and the WLAN I have done away with the need for IR remotes altogether( I can still use the Pronto if I want to though), everthing is controlled by X10 transmitters/laptop/iPAQ
    The lights/curtains/amps/etc are switched by X10, the AV proc is controlled over the LAN, The LCD controlled by the HTPC(which is also controlled over the LAN).

    As an example:
    I can use the ipaq/pronto/various switches or whatever to switch on the LCD, whatever amps are required(depends on HC/TV/Music modes), the AV proc & sub. If it is cinema mode I choose, the curtains close, and if it is night time the lights slowly fade to a very low setting.
    When I finish I can flick a switch/use whatever to shut the whole room down in one go, the system never forgets to switch EVERYTHING off...

    Have you looked at these for info:
    www.automatedhome.co.uk
    or try a search on yahoo for 'UKHA_D' which is a yahoo group for home automation in the UK
    Some other suppliers:
    www.laser.com
    www.letsautomate.co.uk


    HTH, if you need further just shout:)

    John
     
  5. vex

    vex
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    Have a look at rakocontrols.com.

    Easy to retro fit, lighting, timer, blind & curtain control, text message module and a pc interface. (web browser module is coming)

    It is RF based but there is a IR to RF converter available so that you can use a learning IR based RC's
     
  6. rectorydp

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    Hi

    There are so many options that it is sometimes difficult to work out where to start. sofa-spud has provided some excellent advice and links, and I would certainly recommend joining UKHA_D. I think the most important decision relates to how much you want to do yourself and how much you want to spend.

    X10 can work pretty well but it does take quite a lot of time to get rid of interference and other gremlins. I have quite a lot of X10 kit (virtually all DIN modules) and it works well in an old (quite large, ie 2 phases, 8 lighting circuits, 6 ring mains) Victorian property. The activehome software is dreadful and, as sofa-spud has indicated, it is well worth looking at some of the other options. I also use Homeseer.

    Something like Homeseer would allow you to use many other technologies including Z-wave even though it was originally developed with X10 in mind.
    Homeseer has allowed me to integrate the control of lights, appliances, windows, heating, IR and serial interfacesl. All the devices can be controlled via a browser or a client, or remotes. However, the real key to home automation is to remove the need for manual control as much as possible, ie the controller should know what to do when someone comes into a room, gets up, watches a movie, etc.

    Quite a lot of people on UKHA_D have migrated from X10 to C-Bus and speak very highly of it. It is considerably more expensive and requires quite a lot of rewiring but most users seem very happy. C-Bus can also be controlled from Homeseer using plugins and some hardware.

    I think your best bet at the moment would be to get involved in some of the forums, try out Homeseer or similar, play around with some different bits of kit and then plan out a way forward based on your experiences and inclinations.
    Just keep an eye on the credit cards as AV and HA are a frighteningly expensive mix!

    BR
    David
     
  7. patrober

    patrober
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    for a cheaper single room by room solution (ie not linked) the futronix switches would do what you want. p400 does 4 circuits with numerous scenes, al controllable via remote if you want. So it will do the type of thing you ask - dim all lights except one circiut at a partiuclar level say.

    Ive got a couple of rooms with the p400s and very happy with them.

    futronix also do a linked house system but it is a mangnitude of cost higher!
     
  8. noel-pilot

    noel-pilot
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    wow!! i go away for a couple of days and the replies start flying out!!

    thank you everyone, some great info there, will definitely look at the groups, be an interesting few months researching this stuff!

    In answer to one of the questions above, I will want to do pretty much everything myself, i'm like that! I like learning new things, skills etc, hardest one so far was learning unix style bash prompts to hack my tivo but i got there so I will crack this at some stage too!!

    Thanks again, will be back with more questions im sure!
     
  9. rectorydp

    rectorydp
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    If you want to do it yourself then UKHA_D is definitely the place for you. Ask virtually any question about Home Automation (and just about anything else) and you will get some excellent responses. Also take a look at two HA protocols:

    xAP

    and

    xPL

    Both developed by enthusiasts in the UK (and regulars on UKHA_D) and both doing some great things, eg audio and lighting connectors, native IO modules, plugins/interfaces for HA controllers, VoIP PBX connectors, TV and Weather guides, etc. It is a little confusing to work out what is possible at first (development overrides documentation) but once you start to play with some of the elements you will see an enormous opportunity.

    Have fun!

    BR
    David
     
  10. javabully

    javabully
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    Hi,

    I have yet to install any X10 devices so can't comment on its reliability but I am drawn to the fact there are some java API's out there which could probably be put to some good use.

    You said you like doing everything yourself noel - how about writing your own java apps ?
    I have found 3 API's:

    http://x10.homelinux.org/
    http://www.micheldalal.com/sw/java/x10/
    http://www.kevinboone.com/x10api_package.html

    I have not looked at them yet so cannot state any preferences but I fancy having a go myself at some point with a view to integrate x10 control with voice recognition if it has not already been done.

    Right I'm off to join UKHA-D :hiya:
     
  11. noel-pilot

    noel-pilot
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    cheers for that!! i have been reading ( A LOT) the last few days, have a demo copy of Indigo too (X10 control for the mac) which looks pretty good, i have mac and pc but would like to ditch the windows as much as possible in the next few years.

    Seems like the X10 will do everything I want and relatively cheaply and will enable me to do an awful lot too!!

    Just need to look into software that can run on say pda's or tablets or indeed normal mac or pc that will provide infra red control over AV equipment and control over X10 stuff, have seen a couple of examples but i think there's lots more reading to do!

    Sure I must be able to make some nice surrounds for the lilliput 7/8~" touchscreens on ebay, VGA adapter and USB touchscreen for £180 ish!! hook that up to a dirt cheap pc or mac mini and for £500 I have a lovely little fully customisable display, 6 times cheaper than a similar sized crestron panel and I should be able to do a lot more with it!!! thats my plan at the moment!!!!
     
  12. Peadar

    Peadar
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    Hello all another newbie

    Looking into controling a few X10 for lighting, curtains etc from touchscreen and came across the leopard, sounds good has anyone worked with it.

    peadar
     

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