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Gone for 8 months. Back with renewed focus.

Posted by Shinyshoes , in Sensors, Premise, Nuvo Grand Concerto, Uncategorized 21 February 2012 · 1251 views

Well, it has been 8 months since I last posted a blog entry.  WOW!  Reading that blog post seems like that all happened so long ago.  It makes me feel good that I am making progress, albeit slowly. I thought that the blog’s section of cocoontech used to allow me to back-date posts, but I don’t see that feature anymore.  Hence, this post will be a little long.  Please bear with me; it does get much more HA focused later on.

I got very frustrated with the USB-UIRT problems I was having and without that working there was very little I could make headway on from a HA standpoint.  With no comments on my last post, I assumed the UIRT idea was dead.

I focused the rest of the summer getting non-HA projects complete (Build a deck, plant some trees, gravel the lane.....).
There is a lot to catch up on since then.  In July, I bit the bullet and bought a GC-100-16 off eBay to replace what I had in mind for the UIRT in the Wiring closet.  Simply put, I was going to have a UIRT mounted on the far side of the room from all my components and us it as a "blaster" from my computer to my components rather than putting a blinkie on each component.  Since I can't get the UIRT to work with extension cables, I bought a GC100 to use with blinkies.

When the GC100 arrived I immediately hooked it up to premise and installed the driver.  To make sure I had it hooked up properly I connected one of the relays to the inputs of my Axis security camera.  Eventually, when I get the Axis Camera mounted, my plan is to have it e-mail me stills of the driveway when the sensor is tripped.  I got it working from premise so now whenever the driveway sensor gets tripped I get an email with some pictures at different intervals.  Unfortunately, currently the pictures are of the wall of my mechanical room but eventually I will the camera mounted outside and those pictures will be useful.

In August, I did manage to get the driveway sensor probe buried. Finally.  I also started working on getting some of my IR devices properly configured in premise.  I started with my Component switch box.  It currently only has my Xbox and my Wii attached to it so it was a simple place to start.  I got the blinkie mounted on it and got the appropriate IR commands entered into premise.  Simple, but progress none the less.

In September, I suffered another exchange server problem which resulted in my having to reinstall the OS on the computer.  I eventually made it to bed about 3am with the problem fixed but the reality of hosting an e-mail server and the resulting support that is required was weighing on me.  A lack of hardware had me running a virtual environment with virtual Domain Controllers and a Virtual Exchange server.  This made the rebuild much quicker as the virtual computers were all still intact but non-the-less, the issues, combined with my less-than-stable ISP lead me to start to think that hosting my own mail server may not be the answer.

September was also the month I was able to get my hands on a couple of wireless control pads for the Nuvo.  I was able to get the coordinator installed and configured properly and hooked both of my control pads to it.  I have one that is permanently assigned to the zone for the deck, and one that can control all zones.  These are very slick little remotes and well worth the investment.

I was cruising cocoontech one day in late October when I stumbled across this post of etc6849’s RF/Premise setup.  I was still looking for a way to send commands from a remote (upstairs) to my HA server (downstairs) and this seemed like an ideal solution.  This general idea gave me a little re-energizing that I was lacking in the last couple of months.  I immediately started searching EBay/Craigslist/Kijiji in hopes of landing an MSC-400 Master control unit or any of the MX-900 series remotes at a decent price.  Almost immediately I was able to get an MX-950 remote for dirt cheap.  I was about to start down the road of programming the MX-950 to work with my components (even if it meant some of them would be controlled outside of premise).  I was all “gung-ho” about having new direction and getting started again when disaster struck…..again……

In early December, I had a catastrophic motherboard failure on my Email server.  After just going through a much more repairable failure in September, this really had me in the dumps about hosting.  I had to strip the motherboard from my Premise server in order to get my exchange server running again which put an abrupt stop to all HA development.  I had to unhook the Driveway sensor receiver and plug it in upstairs so we could still get notification when it was tripped, albeit not through the Nuvo speakers, but just the wimpy little speaker in the receiver box.  Once again, after a couple of long nights, I was able to get a Frankenstein computer working that would allow mail to flow again.  However, it was the final straw in my hosting experiment.

I signed up for Google apps for business and began to transfer all my e-mail, contacts, and calendar items from Exchange to Google apps.  It ends up costing $50 per account per year but when you figure the amount of time I was putting into supporting that server and what it was taking away from my family (and HA), it is a price I would gladly pay.  December 17th was the official date; I changed my MX records and started email flowing via Google.  I decommissioned my exchange server, both Domain controllers, and in the following weeks, the host server itself.  It was a big day for me, not only because everything worked, but it signaled the end of my seemingly endless problems with that server.

I kind of took a break for the next month or so.  It was likely that I was a little burnt out after treading water with a slapped together computer and transferring everything to Google.  I had lost interest in HA for a bit.

Wouldn’t you know it; all it would take to get me going again was an ad on craigslist.  An MSC-400 was listed at a VERY reasonable price, and came with 2 starter kits and the RFX-250 RF receiver that was needed as well.  I pulled the trigger and couldn’t wait for it to arrive.

I took the best pieces from the 2 computers that I had combined to make the temporary server out of and built up what would become my permanent Premise server.  I got Premise re-installed and started putting the pieces back together.

It was at this point that I really started poking around in the drivers I had loaded to get an idea of what it would take to write a serial driver for my Yamaha RX-V2600 receiver.  I got a hold of the Nuvo Grand Concerto Protocol Document and was able to follow along in the document and the driver and start to understand what was going on.  I noticed a “Page” command that was not handled in the driver that was defined in the document.  To prove to myself that I understood how the driver was working, I set out to implement the paging functionality in the Grand Concerto driver in Premise.  After about an hour I had working command/response code and was able to activate/deactivate the page feature in the Concerto via Premise.  That allowed me to remove the RIB Relay and trigger the paging mode strictly from Premise.

I made the change but started to notice some performance “hiccups” with the paging.  After many nights of debugging, I came to the conclusion that the problem was because I had other NuvoNet Devices that would cause the Nuvo to spit status information down the serial cable.  This would affect the way the original author handled solicited vs. unsolicited messages and cause Premise to periodically miss processing a page command.  Since the Paging was the only part of the Nuvo that I was controlling from Premise, I decided to do some more investigating.  It turns out that Premise has the same problems with Volume, power on/off, and most other standard commands.  It would work flawlessly if I unplug the other NuvoNet Devices but that is not a long-term solution.

Over the last 3 weeks or so I have been diligently working on a significant upgrade to the Nuvo Grand Concerto driver.  In the process, I have added quite a bit of functionality that was not previously available in the driver.  Support for Zones with multiple keypads, Setting Source and Zone names, keypad settings, volume configuration settings, source naming settings, globally enable/disable sources, sources enabled for specific zones, and most importantly, a consistent way of determining whether a response received from the Nuvo is an unsolicited response or a response to a command I am sending it while allowing all the NuvoNet devices to remain connected are all items that I have added to the driver.  I am still in the process of debugging these changes but so far, things are looking good.  I plan on posting my changed driver file once I get it complete.  When that time comes, please go easy on me.

That pretty much brings everything up to date.  While there are a number of devices physically connected, Premise is currently not controlling anything.  The driveway sensor receiver still sits on the desk in the front entry way until I can get the Nuvo driver completed.  Once that is done, I can reconnect the driveway sensor.  Then I can wield the knowledge I gained to start a Yamaha RX-V2600 driver and get back on track with the MSC-400 and MX-950.  I’m looking forward to being an active contributor to the Premise community.

August 2020

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