Jump to content


Photo
- - - - -

The most capable controller software?


  • Please log in to reply
39 replies to this topic

#1 MichaelT

MichaelT

    Newbie

  • Registered
  • Pip
  • 8 posts

Posted 02 July 2012 - 10:03 AM

I'm a software engineer with a passion for automation systems. I'm looking for a flexible, programmable, centralized HA system that I can program to do some kooky stuff.

Although, there's lots of things I want to do ... here's a list of the heavy lifting items:
- Control the lawn sprinkers based on forecast heat and yesterday's rain fall amounts
- Control outside lights based on motion sensors and ambient light
- Lights will be turned on and off with motion sensors
- HVAC will be set based on motion sensors (detect when we've gone to bed, when we get up, etc.)

I'm looking for a system that will allow me to program/script significant customizations. I looked into HomeSeer and it looked pretty capable, but the server hardware they offered was really outdated.

What control system would you recommend?

Thanks in advance!

Michael

#2 Dan (electron)

Dan (electron)

    CocoonTech Admin

  • Admin
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 10853 posts
  • Twitter:@CocoonTech
  • Location:Central NY
  • Experience:guru
  • Software:EventGhost, HomeSeer
  • Hardware:Elk M1, Mi Casa Verde Vera, Ocelot
  • Tech:X10-RF, UPB, Z-Wave, ZigBee
  • Audio:AirPlay
  • Video:SageTV
  • CCTV:analog, ip, dvr
  • Phone:OBi100/110

Posted 02 July 2012 - 10:19 AM

Welcome to CT!

Check out the link in my sig, all software is listed, and it lets you filter the list based on your requirements.

HomeSeer, CQC and Elve are probably the most powerful options. You don't have to buy the Homeseer hardware, but that said, their HomeTroller unit is solid, and is very low power (hence the use of an Atom CPU, etc.), so there is no reason to offer a controller with an Intel i7 processor ;)

You need to think of our software controller as an 'appliance', not a personal desktop.

Personally, I run my HA software in a virtual machine, that's how little power these packages need.

Here is a review of the 2nd generation of the HomeTroller, in case you do want to buy some sort of approved hardware platform.

#3 Ira

Ira

    Dedicated Cocooner

  • Registered
  • PipPipPip
  • 521 posts

Posted 02 July 2012 - 10:24 AM

Elk M1G as the main appliance, with CQC running on a standalone Windows-based PC for additional control/flexibility. Rain8NetPro for the irrigation controller appliance to open/close valves (although M1G can do it too with additional relay board(s)), with either the CQC irrigation system driver or MCSSprinklers (software package) telling the Rain8NetPro when to open/close valves based on available info and programs. That's what I have.

#4 MichaelT

MichaelT

    Newbie

  • Registered
  • Pip
  • 8 posts

Posted 02 July 2012 - 10:57 AM

Wow! Thanks for that startlingly fast reply!

@Dan Would you suggest HSPRO for my needs? Also, if I want to use (or have the option to use) X10, I'll need serial ports, is that right?

@Ira I'm blown away that there's a packaged product that will allow me to control our sprinklers. Maybe I shouldn't be surprised ... it seems there's a solution for almost any need.

Thanks again guys!

#5 Neurorad

Neurorad

    Cocoonut

  • Registered
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 2267 posts
  • Experience:novice
  • Tech:RadioRA2
  • Audio:Nuvo

Posted 02 July 2012 - 11:17 AM

Huh? I'd go CQC before HS, especially for someone in IT.

Unless this is some kind of ad for HS, in which case HS is tops. ;)

#6 roussell

roussell

    Dedicated Cocooner

  • Registered
  • PipPipPip
  • 531 posts
  • Twitter:roussell
  • Location:Birmingham, Alabama
  • Experience:average
  • Software:Indigo
  • Hardware:Custom
  • Tech:INSTEON, 1-Wire, Custom
  • Audio:Custom
  • CCTV:ip, dvr
  • Phone:Linksys PAP2

Posted 02 July 2012 - 11:43 AM

Actually, I'd think that HS would be more suited to the 'typical' IT dev as it is based in .NET for scripting and sucg and CQCs is its own custom stuff (from what I underatand, could be wrong).

Actually, what the OP wants to do is farely basic and one could argue that ANY package would be fine. Perhaps insted of spending $$$ on the big boys, get your feet wet with the free and excellent Premise first.

It should be noted that I dont have a dog in this hunt, I use Indigo on a Mac Mini (also excellent)

Terry


#7 Dan (electron)

Dan (electron)

    CocoonTech Admin

  • Admin
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 10853 posts
  • Twitter:@CocoonTech
  • Location:Central NY
  • Experience:guru
  • Software:EventGhost, HomeSeer
  • Hardware:Elk M1, Mi Casa Verde Vera, Ocelot
  • Tech:X10-RF, UPB, Z-Wave, ZigBee
  • Audio:AirPlay
  • Video:SageTV
  • CCTV:analog, ip, dvr
  • Phone:OBi100/110

Posted 02 July 2012 - 12:05 PM

Wow! Thanks for that startlingly fast reply!

@Dan Would you suggest HSPRO for my needs? Also, if I want to use (or have the option to use) X10, I'll need serial ports, is that right?

@Ira I'm blown away that there's a packaged product that will allow me to control our sprinklers. Maybe I shouldn't be surprised ... it seems there's a solution for almost any need.

Thanks again guys!

You need to figure out everything you want to do, the type of hardware you want to use, before settling on a software solution. If you somehow are going to use X10 (hardware has been discontinued, and it's more difficult/expensive to get now), then you will need a serial or USB port, depending on the type of receiver/transceiver you are going to get. I highly recommend you take a look at INSTEON, Z-Wave and UPB instead. Once you have figured this out, you can calculate if you need to purchase any 3rd party plugins (which aren't part of the HS Pro package), so you can do a fair comparison.

HSPRO will definitely meet your needs, but I highly recommend you wait until they have it on sale, as the savings can be significant should you go that route.

Huh? I'd go CQC before HS, especially for someone in IT.

Unless this is some kind of ad for HS, in which case HS is tops. ;)



Why's that? Both CQC and HS are just as powerful, it's just the approach that's different.

As someone who has a lot of experience with all major packages, I highly recommend you use the trial version of all these packages :) If you go through the software listed in my sig, you will see there are various free solutions out there as well, which can do everything you want to do, so really do take a look at that list as well.

Good luck and keep asking questions!

#8 johnlaroux

johnlaroux

    Cocooner

  • Registered
  • PipPip
  • 46 posts
  • Location:Gilbert, AZ
  • Experience:average
  • Software:ECS
  • Hardware:Ocelot
  • Tech:Z-Wave, ZigBee, 1-Wire
  • Phone:Ooma

Posted 02 July 2012 - 02:36 PM

I would look at ECS software which has a 30 day trial. This software will do anything you could thnk of.

#9 Dean Roddey

Dean Roddey

    Cocoonut

  • Registered
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1368 posts
  • Software:CQC

Posted 02 July 2012 - 03:49 PM

Actually, I'd think that HS would be more suited to the 'typical' IT dev as it is based in .NET for scripting and sucg and CQCs is its own custom stuff (from what I underatand, could be wrong


Our position is that, from a stability and security standpoint, a custom language (which any comptent programmer could learn easily) is optimal. The flip side of the fact that you can do anything you want any way you want it (with a general purpose programming language) is that all the other third party code you use (and you will have to generally use some in the form of device drivers) can do the same. With a built in language that makes it hard for you to do the wrong thing, and doesn't allow anything that would compromise the security of the systems the product is running on, we feel that you end up with a more robust platform, and I think our customers would agree.

And of course it allows for product expansion over time with vastly less drag induced by third party code that the product has no idea what it is doing, as witnessed by the huge effort it required for HS to get a V2 product out. The evolutionary baggage that allowing third party language based extensions caused was very painful to deal with. We have very little of that sort of problem.

Of course we feel even more strongly that you shouldn't have to do any programming at all, and hence why the product allows you to do very complex solutions without writing any code, unless you just want to do so because it's easy for you to do.

#10 znelbok

znelbok

    Dedicated Cocooner

  • Registered
  • PipPipPip
  • 252 posts

Posted 04 July 2012 - 07:09 PM

I'll add my vote for CQC.

There is a great irrigation drriver that has bbeen written that will do more than what you have indicated in your first post, but I suspect that it is really what you are after.

CQC also allows you to write your own drivers and macros which as a programmer you should feel right at home with. I have not used the others being mentioned here so my views will be a one sided unfortunately, but as indicated, get stuck into the trial versions for a good feel of what can be done. When testing CQC, use the CQC forums as a place for questions as it is a very active and well monitored forum.

Server hardware is whatever you put in place. I use a VM running 2008 at the moment, but you can use something that is as small as a fitPC or similar.

i saw the rain8 mentioned earlier for irrigation. I would personally not use it from teh small issues I have seen others mention in the past. For something more robust, have a look at the ClickPLC from Automation direct. Is a <$100 PLC that is expandable that has a driver for CQC and works a treat. if you have worked with a PLC before you wont have any trouble with this at all. The rain8 is just a relay bow, whereas the ClickPLC has smarts built in so it can do stuff on its won should it lose its supervisory connection.

Depending on where you are will depend on lighting. my preference is C-bus as I am in Aus. C-bus is available in the US, but not widely used from what I can see here. If you are in the UK then C-bus is also quite popular there (and many other parts of the EU). Just dont go X-10.

Mick

#11 MichaelT

MichaelT

    Newbie

  • Registered
  • Pip
  • 8 posts

Posted 05 July 2012 - 10:54 AM

Actually, what the OP wants to do is farely basic and one could argue that ANY package would be fine.


Terry, I thought what I wanted to do, especially with sprinkler systems and behavior-based HVAC, was complex. Your assessment that my goals are fairly basic now makes me very curious want is considered complex. I think I'll add a new topic ... look for it soon, I can't wait to hear what you've done!

#12 MichaelT

MichaelT

    Newbie

  • Registered
  • Pip
  • 8 posts

Posted 05 July 2012 - 10:57 AM

@Dean & znelbok: What is the language structure of CQC? Is it like Javascript, C or ...?

The thing that is drawing me to HomeSeer is (it appears) that it allows for drag and drop building, but then you can dive deeper with Javascript-like coding.

Thoughts?

#13 Deane Johnson

Deane Johnson

    Dedicated Cocooner

  • Registered
  • PipPipPip
  • 302 posts
  • Location:Omaha, Nebraska
  • Experience:average
  • Software:CQC
  • Hardware:Ocelot
  • Tech:X10-RF, Z-Wave

Posted 05 July 2012 - 11:16 AM

MichaelT, I don't use HomeeSeer, but I did try the demo. I believe it is described as "browser based" so you should be sure you're happy with that. My personal expereince was that it seemed clunky and outdated, but that could just be me.

#14 Dan (electron)

Dan (electron)

    CocoonTech Admin

  • Admin
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 10853 posts
  • Twitter:@CocoonTech
  • Location:Central NY
  • Experience:guru
  • Software:EventGhost, HomeSeer
  • Hardware:Elk M1, Mi Casa Verde Vera, Ocelot
  • Tech:X10-RF, UPB, Z-Wave, ZigBee
  • Audio:AirPlay
  • Video:SageTV
  • CCTV:analog, ip, dvr
  • Phone:OBi100/110

Posted 05 July 2012 - 11:32 AM

HomeSeer has a browser based interface (which is a plus in many cases), but it supports advanced touch screen based interfaces as well (Android, iOS, Windows), so it's really up to you how complex you want to go.

CQC has a very small foot print (isn't .NET based), so it's pretty efficient (wish they would come out with a Linux version *hint*). Last time I used it, it also handled transparencies a little better than HomeSeer and it does support really complex objects/screens, but the learning curve is pretty steep.

This really is like a Toyota vs Honda debate, both get you from point A to B, and offer tons of features, but ask anyone for their opinion, and you'll get plenty of pros/cons no matter who you are asking ;)

30-day trial is definitely the only solution, and make sure you at least try Elve/HomeSeer/CQC/ECS (don't care about order) if you are looking for a Windows based solution, and take a look at the free solutions listed in my sig.

#15 etc6849

etc6849

    Cocoonut

  • Registered
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1606 posts
  • Location:Irmo, SC
  • Experience:average
  • Software:Premise
  • Hardware:Elk M1
  • Tech:X10-RF, Z-Wave, Custom
  • Phone:OBi100/110

Posted 05 July 2012 - 12:11 PM

Given your background, I think you'd be much more happy with Premise over Homeseer. I'm sure Homeseer can do the things Premise can, but it costs way too much in my opinion. I can tell you that as a software engineer, there is nothing Premise can't do for you. As far as Elve and other options, I personally would not choose them before trying Premise either.

I strongly doubt other options are layer based and versatile like Premise. I can change my lighting technology for my entire house in less than half an hour and all custom home scripts are retained due to Premise's cleaver home object layer that is bound to device level objects. The home object layer handles the web based gui and all home specific scripts. The device layer can inherit from predefined classes (this saves A LOT of time) or completely new classes that you create and holds the device specific stuff like protocols, etc...

With Premise, javascripting your own front end GUI is also very easy and there are a few open source examples. Premise also gives a variety of options for coding; everything from a great Builder program that supports vbscript to a full fledged SDK that supports C++, javascript or .net. There is literally nothing you can't do with it.

I know it's free so it must be bad right? But really, Premise is still one of the best HA software options out there and used to cost $500-$800 and was backed by a multi-billion dollar company (Motorola) and a great hardware company before that (Lantronix). In fact, there are several users who switched from Homeseer to Premise.

To give you an idea of versatility we've added z-wave functionality to Premise using the VRC0P. Premise never came with z-wave capability, but because of its class based architecture, we just inherited existing Premise classes (such as dimmers, switches, motion sensor etc...), then added our own code to handle the protocols and two-way feedback. This means if a new z-wave device comes out, we can add it ourselves in easy to use vbscript instead of waiting for some company to add it for us. If there's some nuance to a z-wave devices protocol, we can make the change ourselves too, gaining new features for whatever device. If zigbee became mainstream, we could even copy the VRC0P z-wave module's classes and modify them to be used with whatever zigbee controller's protocol.

Up to you, but I would definitely read the wiki over and watch the videos before dismissing Premise.
http://www.cocoontech.com/wiki/Premise
http://www.smarthome...10_brochure.pdf
link to download videos, Premise Builder and SDK: http://www.mediapcforums.com/node/7

PS: Premise has even won EH's home of the year: http://www.electroni...avatar_is_born/

@Dean & znelbok: What is the language structure of CQC? Is it like Javascript, C or ...?

The thing that is drawing me to HomeSeer is (it appears) that it allows for drag and drop building, but then you can dive deeper with Javascript-like coding.

Thoughts?


Edited by etc6849, 05 July 2012 - 12:14 PM.





0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users