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I Need some REAL Advice !! Please HELP.

Discussion in 'Smart Home, Climate Control & Security Forum' started by cominatcha, Sep 21, 2004.

  1. cominatcha

    cominatcha
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    :thumbsup: Hi Everyone - Im a Newbie and I got this Automation BUG !!

    But I'm confused. :eek:

    This is what I'm looking for OR to do !!

    ---------------------------------------

    1)
    Lighting

    ....I have been looking into Lutron BUT its damn expensive - I have seen the Grafix eye solution and Lutron Homeworks - Whats the difference - anyone got a quick answer/has got it - used it ?

    I have seen the Rako system - its RF based and looks good - anyone got it used it ?

    I have also read about the ULTI "Clipsal Concept" - It looks really nice cosmetically BUT has anyone got that - used it ?

    ANY RECOMMENDATIONS ??

    2)
    IR Repeaters

    I want to control all my AV/Lights etc - I think I need a IR Learning remote, and a IR repeater (Any good Repeater recommendations ?)
    I have a Tablet PC, Does anyone have any recommendations in terms of SOFTWARE ? and can I use it to control all the AV/Lights etc etc + do I need a USB IR Extender as the IrDA port maybe weak on the Tablet PC ???

    3)
    MULTI-ROOM Music

    I got a PC with loadsa MP3s upstairs - can I pipe this to anyroom (Please note I have just cabled my house with Cat 6) - so I can access the music anywhere BUT do I need a seperate AMP in each room EXPENSIVE - or is there a cheaper way I can do this - Maybe using Windows XP Media Centre and a Remote control to select music/tv/vids/pics/Internet ?

    What are your ideas/thoughts ?

    4)
    FINALLY

    Any Ideas or Pointers will be great. I really need some help as there are so many things you can do !!! I just need some focusing and ADVICE !!

    Many Thanks ALL
     
  2. Gooba

    Gooba
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    Hi

    Just a few questions then!!!!

    First things first. Go to www.automatedhome.co.uk and join the Yahoo group. Search through the archive. The group is very active and happy to try and answer all newbie questions. Join the group and ask the question, you will get lots of advice.

    1) I am using x10 for my lighting but I know that there are people on the list (as above) that have lutron, rako and clipsal. The Clipsal system seems to be current 'darling' but it does mean running 'special' CAT5 cable to each light switch. As I didn't want (more like SWMBO) to rewire the whole house this system was discounted. They should be bringing out a RF based solution in the next couple of months so this could change things!!!


    2) One of the guys on the list has developed his own IR repeater system which is currently undergoing beta testing. The fact that you already have the house wired with structured cabling means that system could be perfect for you. This system should allow for multi-zone control. I am currently just using a Power-mid and a USBUIRT to send IR from a PC to my AV equipment.

    Software - I use Homeseer for the back-end control. I use mainlobby on my tablet pc as the nice GUI. I have also just started to use XAP to grab things like TV listings.

    This means that from the tablet PC I can now control all the lights in the house, monitor movement, turn the children's TV's on and off, control all the AV gear, access all the music and video stored on the media server etc.

    3) There are a numer of ways to achieve multi-room music and really this just depends on how much monet you want to spend. I have gone for a really 'cheap' solution as money is relatively tight. I have used a Creative Soundblaster soundcard with drivers from the KX project which make the PC see each of the outputs as a seperate soundcard. This means that I can have a different music stream to each zone. You will need some sort of amplification and speakers in each zone. I use a couple of PDA's for control in the different zones. There are more and more units coming onto the market that allow you to stream music and vodeo over a network. I also have three Xbox's that we use to send media across the network.

    As you can see lots of dofferent solutions to achieve the same thing!!!

    HTH

    John
     
  3. Kenny Glasgow

    Kenny Glasgow
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    Have a look at Apples iTunes and AirPort at :

    http://www.apple.com/uk

    which is a great and cheap(ish) way to distribute music thru' your house. May not be for you but worth a look
     
  4. cominatcha

    cominatcha
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    Gooba and Kenny Thanks for the replies.

    I've seen the apple i-link but its not for me.

    Gooba - I joined the yahoo group you suggested and have posted a message up there.

    I got a couple of questions for you Gooba.

    (1) Lighting :

    There is a RF based ULTI Lighting solution - Dont know if you've seen this http://www.ulti.biz - I am trying to find a place where I can see a DEMO of it !!

    The Rako is being used by sevenoaks - so I can see that in use

    I'll also go and see the lutron in action.

    (2) IR Repeater:

    Have you got a contact name for the repeater system which is currently undergoing beta testing ?

    Where did you get your "Power-mid and a USBUIRT" to send IR from your PC to your AV equipment. How do you find it ? in regards to response time etc ?

    (3) MULTI-ROOM Music/Video

    From your reply "I have used a Creative Soundblaster soundcard with drivers from the KX project which make the PC see each of the outputs as a seperate soundcard." - where can I read up on this KX project - sounds like a good solution !!!!

    You mention "Software - I use Homeseer for the back-end control. I use mainlobby on my tablet pc as the nice GUI. I have also just started to use XAP to grab things like TV listings."

    How did you find setting up Homeseer ? Difficult ? Did you use your own PC ?
    How do you find mainlobby ? it looks good - is it easy to link this to Homeseer ?
    Lastly what version of Homeseer should I look at ??

    Many Thanks - I am reading up on your suggestions - its been a great help.

    Thanks

    Rocky
     
  5. Gooba

    Gooba
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    Rocky

    1) The good thing about the Yahoo group is there are representatives from most of the UK's HA suppliers as well as few custom installers. One of those guys should be able to tell if the ulti system is on demo somewhere. I'm sure someone posted a review of Rako on the automatedhome website so you should be able to get some good practical advice from that.

    2) The IR repeater system is being developed by one of Yahoo group memebers called Frank McAlinden and there is a link to his website on the links page on automateedhome. He is also an active member of the Yahoo group. The system being tested is called F.IR.M.Jr (Catchy name). Don't be put off by the website.

    I bought the Power-mid from www.letsautomate.co.uk which where I also purchased most of my x10 kit. They have been very reliable and one of the guys that works there is a member of the forum.

    The USBUIRT was purchased from www.usbuirt.com who have just started shipping from the UK. The guy who has disti rights for the UK is also a member of the group!!!

    3) The KX project can be found at http://kxproject.lugosoft.com/index.php?language=en. I just installed an old Sounblaster card in the PC and installed the KX drivers. As the card only has two outputs the PC see it aas two seperate output devices. If you get one of the newer cards then this should be three devices. Great for sending music to the kitchen and maybe even the bathroom if I can figure out a better control solution!!!!

    I have been using Homeseer for a couple of years and use it to control lighting and appliances. There should be a new version being released in the next couple of months with quite a few changes. They also have a very active forum. I'm using the full version but depening on the lighting solution you choose might mean you don't even need Homeseer.

    Mainlobby was very easy to connect to homeseer as there is a two-way plugin which seamlessly integrates the two systems. All of the homeseer devices can be seen and controlled by Mainlobby. They also have a very good forum.

    You should also note that I'm not a programmer/developer and therefore I have more or less just used the stock packages. I get the impression taht most of teh guys on the aforementioned forums are real techies and most of their conversations just go over my head.

    To change the TV channel for example:
    I have a mainlobby scene with the TV station logo's - When I click on the logo the tablet talk to my Wifi router which sends a signal to the server. The server sends a command to mainlobby server which pushes the IR signal out of the USBUIRT to the Power-mid by the pc to the power-mid by AV gear. This all takes a fraction of a second with no detectabel delay.

    To change the lights;
    I have a button on a mainlobby scene which controls the three lighting circuits in the living room. Clicking on the button sends a command to mainlobby server and then to Homeseer which then sends the x10 signals to the dimmer packs. There is a slight delay of 1-2 seconds but this is probably down to x10.

    I use one desktop PC as my server which stores all my music,video and pictures. It also runs Homeseer, mainlobby server and the XAP services. It's a P4 1.8Ghz with 1Gb RAM so nothing too special. That PC is on 24x7.

    As you have CAT6 cabling already installed you should also look at www.KAT5.tv for a great way of sending video and audio across structured cabling. The guy invented this stuff is also a member of the UKHA forum.

    If you want to ask any other questions please just give me a shout.

    HTH

    John
     
  6. Joe Fernand

    Joe Fernand
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    cominatcha

    If your worried about budget forget how to even spell 'HomeWorks' - a Grafik Eye is a stand alone programmable panel; primarily designed to set various scenes in a room whilst HomeWorks is a complete system that manages all the lighting (internal and external) in a building; and can interface with other devices.

    See http://www.lutron.com/hlc/

    If your not in a rush do plenty of reading and research - as others have said there are UK support groups and lots of US based magazines to be had.

    See http://www.cedia.net/resources/bookstore.php for a good list of bedtime reading.

    Joe
     
  7. daren jackson

    daren jackson
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    I was in a similar situation to you. In the end I had 8 x Lutron GraficEye 4500 modules linked together under the stairs with pads installed in each room (via cat5) which have the IR option. This has the benefit of keeping the costs down while allowing remote control in any room with personalised control pads (revealing the different scenes such as TV, Dinner etc).

    Additional modules can be added to this system (lighting to come on/off at different times/ daylight/nightime etc).

    As for IR distribution I use a system by Xantech (world leaders). This allows all IR to be fed back to a central cupboard and allows me to control sky/dvd/TV/lights/underfloor heating/blinds/music server etc from any room.
     
  8. cominatcha

    cominatcha
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    :D

    Hi Thanks for all the replies !! I am doing alot of reading and research thanks to you guys. Hopefully will get this right !!

    I am going to see both the RAKO and Lutron this weekend. I couldnt find any info on the CLIPSAL ULTI RF stuff - I did ring them direct BUT they are unaware of any places I can go to see it working :eek: (Bit gutted at that!)

    I have checked out Main Lobby and Music Lobby etc - looks good and am reading up on that - I have requested a trial version of both - so I'll see what happens there !!

    I will update again very soon and probably ask loads more Q's !! :thumbsup: hope its OK !! Any more suggestions please let me know

    Many Thanks ALL

    Rocky
     
  9. C h a z II

    C h a z II
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    On the Lighting front the "Grafik Eye" from iLight is very good. Same money as the Lutron Product, approx £600 for a six circuit box. However, it does come with an astronomical and 24hour timer built in. This would then give you some of the functionality of the homeworks system.

    Hope this helps. :smashin:
     

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