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Another iPad mount? Really? Well, one can hardly fault companies for cashing in on the iPad's market saturation. When it comes to Home Automation, the iPad's low price, high build quality, and ever-expanding App Store make it ideal for the industry. The problem, however, is how to turn what is a traditional tablet into a cost-effective, yet powerful, dedicated touchscreen controller; this is where the mount becomes essential. Recently VidaBox announced their own iPad wall mount, hoping to satistfy the needs of both Home Automation professionals and enthusiasts alike. Have they succeeded in this task? Check past the break for a full hands-on review.
One of my personal issues with UPB has been the lack of an Ethernet compatible programming interface. PCS recently released the NDS-1111-PW, a pretty impressive piece of hardware which allows you to do exactly this and more, and Web Mountain just released their own product, the Web Mountain Remote UPB Controller (RUC), allowing you to interface your UPB network via IP. Web Mountain was kind enough to send me a unit, which will go on sale (and ship) next week, October 22. Keep on reading for the rest of the review.
EXCLUSIVE: CocoonTech Members can buy this unit for $209.95 ($90 off MSRP) when using coupon RUC001. Offer expires 12/15/2010, dealers can request a discount as well!
Over the last five or six months I have been testing some SUPerB™ (UPB™) hardware which may have not even been considered by some CocoonTech members.
This hardware is made by SmartHome Ltd., located in Israel. They make both 50 and 60 Hz versions, which can support 120VAC or 230VAC. Based on the product which I received and the feedback I assume their market was initially intended for 230 VAC/50 Hz as they only have the European style plugs on the Powerline interface, but I was told they would be getting in US style hardware “soon”. In my case I used an adapter.
Their product line currently consists of:
Over the last few months I have been testing some SUPerB™ (UPB™) hardware which may have not even been considered by some Cocoontech members.
This hardware is made by SmartHome Ltd.in Israel (http://www.shlhitech.com). They make both 50 and 60 Hz versions, which can support 120VAC or 230VAC. Based on the product which I received and the feedback I assume their market was initially intended for 230 VAC/50 Hz as they only have the European style plugs on the Powerline interface, but I was told they would be getting in US style hardware “soon”. In my case I used an adapter.
Their product line currently consists of
SHLM1 – Lamp Module, Available models: B, I, D *
SHLM2 – Lamp Module – dual, Available models: B, D *
SHAM1 – Appliance Module, Available models: B, I, D *
SHAM2 – Appliance Module – dual, Available models: B, D *
SHATM – Astronomical Time Module, Available models: B, I, D*
SHOCM – Output Control Module, Available models: B, I, D *
SHOLT – Controlled Outlet
SHMCM – Motor Control Module, Available models: B, I, D*
SHICM – Input Control Module, Available models: B, I, D *
SHRWS – Remote Wall Switch
SHWS1D-R Wall Switch Dimmer
SHWMC8 – Wall Mount Controller
SHPIM – Powerline Interface Module, Available models: RS232, USB
SHPPM – Powerline Plug Module
* The ( is a box module that can be fixed on-the-wall.
* The (I) is an insert (plug-in) module.
* The (D) is a DIN Rail module.
The SUPerB™ product line implements GEN II UPB™ technology.
My evaluation consisted in testing the following units in the 120VAC 60Hz configuration
SHPIM Model R
SHOCM Model D
SHLM1 Model D
Because the SHOCM and the SHLM1 units I received were DIN rail mount units they had screw terminals for both power and output connections. I found, these easy to work with and a short “inside use” extension cord cut in half worked good for making my power and output connections.
Setup and Configuration:
Once I got the hardware wired for testing I proceeded to open the UPStart version I had from SAI, I figured UPB is UPB right? Wrong. I could see the hardware but not control the device, and the only tabs visible, was the basic programming information and the communication test tab. After talking with SmartHome Ltd. They informed me I needed to use their “SUPerBuilder” software which is downloadable from their website. So I proceeded to download and install it. I performed an export from UPStart, and imported it into SUPerBuilder. My devices showed up programmed as expected. Basically SUPerBuilder is a complete rewrite of UPStart by SmartHome Ltd.’s programmers. To make it easier to translate to other languages and a few other reasons. Once the devices are programmed they are like any other UPB device and you communicate with Device ID’s and Link numbers.
Because the SHPIM I received required an adapter, I only performed limited testing on this unit. I was able to send and receive UPB commands with all devices on my network. In my network I have hardware from other UPB manufactures (SAI and HAL) I was originally concerned with interoperability. Once I connected the PIM to my computer and loaded their software (see more information below), and imported my UPB export file from UPSTART I was able to communicate with all devices.
The SHOCM device is a dual channel Output Control Module. I used this device to perform resets on my wireless router and firewall during recent internet problems I have had. Basically the SHOCM has two relays which are controlled by the UPB signals. So I connected these in series with the power wires connecting to the two devices I was having problems with and could turn them on and off with a simple UPB command. This next year I think I will test these with my Halloween decorations, and pop-up’s.
The Third Device which I tested was a single channel lamp module, this device did not get extensive testing, but was connected for a few weeks in place of my normal HAL plug in module I use to control my outside Christmas lightning. There was no missed ON or OFF, commands and it performed flawlessly until it was time to put away the decorations until next year.
The Programming button on these devices are not recessed and is easier to press then most UPB devices. With the DIN mount and Box style units I can see users placing them into plastic electrical box and for multiple purposes ex. Irrigation control (SHOCM), outdoor lighting control of multiple branches(SHLM), and other holiday decoration.) There is no “derating” information provided for multiple devices ganged in one box, but the SHLM1 is a 1000 W unit and the SHLM2 can also only control a combined 1000 W between the two channels.
The only down side(s) I see to these devices is that they are not compatible with UPStart versions which we may already be using for our other devices, but I was told a new version of SUPerBuilder is n the works that can be used to program all UPB devices, and would be much more user friendly. And that they did not have US style devices, and I needed to use an adapter for the PIM, I believe this would also be the case of any of the plug-in style devices, on both the plug and receptacle. But when I received my unit I was told that the US 110 VAC style would be available soon.
I have been using the popular AverMedia NV5000 PC based DVR system for a few years now. While it works great, and the software is very powerful, it requires a dedicated PC, which has several disadvantages, such as maintenance, potential stability problems and energy cost.
I have been looking around for an affordable H.264 (which provides much better compression and quality) DVR appliance for a while now, and finally decided on ordering the Vitek VT-H40 DVR since Automated Outlet (a CTVA member), is running a sale on them this month. Read more for a detailed review and many pictures of the system in action.
UPDATED: I added a few more comments to the end of this review, now that I have had the chance to use it for a few months.
Most home automation enthusiasts incorporate home video (security) cameras as a vital accessory to their overall system. Being able to view live images of their cameras via their cellular phone is a much desired feature.
The creators of WebCamXP have provided a client solution for viewing IP cameras and servers via a Windows Mobile version 5.0 or 6.0 device. This client, named webcamXP Mobile HD v2.1.3 uses the .NET compact Framework 3.5 platform and is a FREE download (scroll towards the bottom of that webpage). This product can now "directly" view the IP appliance (i.e. no computer is needed).
The HomeTroller Series 2 is the new version of the original HomeTroller. The new HomeTroller looks great, it looks like a real appliance, compared with the 'desktop' look of the previous version. It's so small, it could actually be mounted into a typical structured wiring enclosure. It is also touted to be more energy efficient than the previous platform, consuming about 12 Watts of power (nominal). Dimenions have changed as well, the old HomeTroller measured 11.5" W x 2.5" H x 10.5" D, while the new unit measures 9.25" W x 2" H x 7" D.
The unit arrived in a small box, protected well by styrofoam type material. The following items were in the box:
- 1 HomeTroller Series 2 Controller
- 1 External power supply (Input: 120-240v, 50/60 Hz, Output: 12VDC - 5A MAX)
- 1 Getting Started guide
I was surprised that there was no Ethernet cable included, since it is a network based appliance after all. I was also hoping to see some sort of recovery disk, allowing you to restore the unit in case of major trouble, but it looks like this isn't the case. They do sell a $39.95 System Restore flash drive, which is bootable. The flash drive will reformat the Disk-On-Module drive and reinstall the operating system + software to get you back up and running. I highly recommend you take a snapshot of the system using something like Acronis True Image, and a bootable CD/DVD-ROM drive, before you start configuring the system, and another backup once you have everything up and running.
In the search of an inexpensive BNC/F to RJ-45 Balun, I came across the Impact Acoustics BNC/F to RJ-45 Balun. It seemed too good to be true, at a price of under $10 each (you need 2 per camera), but I picked up a few to try and I am extremely surprised.
They use one pair of the RJ-45 connector (the brown/brown white pair) but you could easily pass multiple signals over one cable if needed.
I purchased mine from CablesToGo here
Dwayne Domi of RedRadio (now TouchTronix) demoed his new 12.1 inch LCD touch monitor product called RelayTouch-UTMA which is scheduled to debut on RedRadios web site soon.
This unit consists of a nice 12.1 inch TFT touch screen display, but its interface is via UTMA technology from NComputing rather than requiring a stand alone unit (i.e. separate PC to operate) or a traditional imbedded thin client unit.
UTMA stands for Ultra Thin Multi Access and is the terminology describing NComputings products because they are Ultra Thin compared to traditional thin client terminals and do not require a CPU, hard-drive, or CD-ROM, yet executes as if it is an ordinary Windows PC (provides an instance of the operating system from a host computer).
Dwayne worked with NComputing to imbed an interface with their hardware/firmware so it can be used with his touch screen display! The PC board circuitry easily mounts on the back of the touch screen display. Since there are no moving parts or CPU, heat build up inside a wall or case is not an issue.