A newbies question about ActiveHome Pro

I have been reading these message boards for a little while and have come to the conclusion that some people here are not big fans of Active Home Pro. I have looked into Homeseer, and while it does seem to be a more powerfull program, it is also 3 times the price. I am not looking to do a complete home automation project, I would like to use this to control ligting for a saltwater aquarium.

My plan would be to use timers for the lights and a few macros to control pumps and filtration equipment. With this in mind, would Active Home work for what I want? I can understand if I wanted to do voice promts, and some of the awesome projects that I have read about here on the forum I should use homeseer, but it is very expensive. I guess my question is: would Active Home work for a simpler situation like mine? Thanks for the help, Brett

If failsafe functioning is required to keep the fish alive - I'm not sure I would trust any X-10 based system.

My reading of activehome pro and the CM15A is that the macros sometimes don't fire or fire at the wrong times. I think it is too flawed for now.

In money is an big issue and the functions aren't critical, I would almost go with the free activehome (non-pro) software and a CM11A (which sometimes locks up).


If money is less of an issue I might try the powelinc with the basic software that has few macro capabilities: (It is considered dependable, but not failsafe.)


If you need modules too I would look at the package prices.

There are other free software packages, but their names escape me.


P.S. Don't forget to look for Martin's free shipping coupon on this board
I'm not a fan of Activehome Pro because the hardware simply did not work. The unit I bought kept forgetting macros and timers, and had bad enough RF range that it made the built-in all housecode transceiver useless. Other owners complain that the clocks on their units can't keep track of time.

X10 runs its own AHP forum. Check out other owner experiences at Activehome Pro Forum.

X10's old CM11a works pretty good on OS's up to Win XP sp1, but it needs a serial port and has to be reprogrammed every January to keep it on track.

Smarthome's 1132CU is my preference for standalone controller. It's only a few dollars more than AHP, but it has a ten year battery backed clock and it actually works.

If you are using it for aquariums, you'll want to track down an inexpensive source for noise filters and you'll want to learn how to defeat the appliance module current sensing feature to keep your lights from flickering. Anybody have those links handy?

Voice control complicates things considerably. For that, you'll need to start running a PC 24/7. Voice recognition has a good 'wow' factor, but the software, microphones and mixers required for good results are not cheap. And the difference between real life and Star Trek is that, in real life, background noise (music, tv, dishwasher, etc.) and other actors are always stepping on your lines. If your computer can't distinguish between you and the music, be prepared to hear your computer say "Please repeat" a lot!

If you want to try voice recognition out, I think they offer a trial version of Hal 2000 over at Home Automated Living.

The powerlinc I metioned above is smarthome - except I think Automated Outlet has it cheaper w/ free shipping.


And BTW, both the CM11A and The Powerlinc will work if you later upgrade to Homeseer, but Homeseer requires you leave them connected to the computer and leave the computer on.
Unless you want to leave the computer running why not go with a Oeclot. Or trust the flakly downlowding to a CM11a or similar.

The best you can get for reliable operation. A bit harder to program but easy enough. I wouldn't trust a windows system with expensive saltwater fish. Also a bit more then the other options.

And by the way Scuba I'm getting my certification in open water at the end of month. I think Scuba is much more expensive then I've spent on Automating the house. ;)

I recently spent well over 1200.00 and not done yet getting gear.
I would select the Ocelot as well, since you could expand it with a SECU16 and use relays to turn the lights on / off, so you don't even have to use X10, which would provide you with 100% reliability. If you do want to use a PC and X10, you could go with software such as Girder, which supports most of the modern HA interface (such as the USB Powerlinc and Ocelot), and is only 20 bucks.

PS: Welcome to CocoonTech!
Thank you everyone for the information. My goal in using a home automation system for the tank is to have a reliable way of conrolling the lighting. I would also like to be able to create some macros that I could manually turn on and off to control heaters and pumps during a water change for example. Having a computer permanently connected would not be a big deal, I have something laying around that just needs a new video card that could be used. I dont plan on using the voice control features, it just isnt necessary.

What are the major differences between the Ocelot and the Powerlinc 1132 systems? I tried to download the Ocelot user manual, but it wouldnt load. The Powerlinc does seem like it would be a good option, but so did the Active Home. I think that I have decided not to consider the AH, the timers are just too important for this application. Thanks again for the help.

BrianD: If you think that scuba is expensive, you should try saltwater reef keeping. Ive got $1,000 wrapped up just in the ROCK!!!!!
The Ocelot is a stand alone controller which on its own can receive/transmit IR signals, but with a cheap interface such as the PSC05, it can be X10 enabled. It can do much more than just a few timed events, it can do complex logic using a ladder logic type of programming (pretty easy to learn tho).

If you add the SECU16 expansion module with 8 inputs and 8 outputs, you could also control up to 8 relays, and monitor 8 inputs (you can choose if the input is analog or digital). So you could use several sensors to monitor your setup, and reliably automate your lights, feeders etc using relays. If you do want to use X10, then you don't need the expansion module. It really depends on how much you can spend on the solution, since the Ocelot + SECU16 is probably similar in pricing as Homeseer.
Again, thanks. If I used an ocelot, but did not use the PSC05 interface how would I control the lighting? Does the manufacturer of Ocelot make a module that will control the lighting? I guess what I am having trouble grasping is how the controller ultimately causes the lights to go on and off.

One of the features that drew me toward the AHPro was the clickable switches for each module. I thought that this would be advantageous for running for example, the water change macro that I mentioned before. How would I be able to do this with the Ocelot controller?

Is there somewhere that I can go to that would have a good FAQ concerning these questions? I would also like to learn what terms like relays, and expansion modules mean.
The Ocelot is a programmable logic controller. It has enough "smarts" to perform complex "ladder logic" programming and does this using no moving parts (RAM vs Hard Drives. They are VERY reliable, mainly due to their simplicity in design. You can find more details on the Ocelot HERE.

A "PLC" is the industry standard when needing to control critical processes mainly because they rarely fail (vs. relying on a control system based on a standard PC).

The PSC05 or TW523 are power line controllers that wire into the Ocelot so the Ocelot can now have X-10 functionality (and be able to use X-10 commands in its programming).

Another advantage the Ocelot brings is its ability to add "expansion modules" that talk with the Ocelot via a proprietary bus "Adnet". You can string multiple modules if needed.

Among these modules are a "Digital Input" (SECU16I), Digital Input/Output (SECU16), and Relay Output (RELY8). You can find more details on these expansion modules HERE.

Basically a digital input will detect contact closures or voltage "thresholds", and supply a logical "1" or "0" to the Ocelot. A digital output will open or close a relay contact and could be used to switch devices without using any X-10 protocol, but the devices of course have to be wired "in-line" with these relays (in this case a "relay" will act just like a switch, the Ocelot can turn it on or off).

(FYI: I have been open water certified for over twenty years ;) )
With the Ocelot you can use clickable rountines. But with an added advantage, imagine using an old remote and clicking certain buttons on it to cause the chain reaction. Power button on the remote could turn the pump on/off etc. This is fairly easy to do.

There are many Ocelot users that would be glad to help you program through cmax.
As others have explained, the main advantage with the Ocelot is its stand-alone operation and high reliability. It can still be used along with a PC (as a user interface for example) but does not depend on the PC to operate. If you look at the appdig site linked to earlier, you will see the relay and input modules already mentioned (SECU16, SECU16I and RLY8XA) and also some sensor modules (bobcats), for things like temperature, humidity, serial output, etc.

The term "PLC" that BSR referred to stands for Programmable Logic Controller, and is a device that emulates the functionality of hardwired relays and buttons by using a programming model called ladder logic. The best way to "take a look" at this controller is to download the Ocelot manual and read the section on programming (section 2). You can get the manual here:


Then come back and ask any questions that come to mind.
What is the physical relay that connects to the SECU16 and turns the (I assume) 120V pump on and off?

A link? Cost?

I've only used IR and X-10 w/ the Ocelot and haven't really tried anything else because of the impossibility to run wires here.