bfisher's Cocoon

Hi Bruce

Have not heard of that software you use ..."Autoit" Sounds like its doing the job quite well......If you decide to put in some RGBLED Garden Lighting then xPL might come in handy , or if using the W800 etc........

>As for monitoring my appliances - a member here (Jerry) built me a small circuit board >to monitor 4 appliances... 2 via video input and 2 via current transformer. It works >quite well.

Cool !!!!.......When i designed my Probe system i initially tried the smartlinc video probes but had so much trouble i designed my own (with help from another ha guy)...
I can also connect Dallas temp sensors (DS18S20) to my probe system.... ....current monitoring would be handy for some applications ..........

>As for the UPB plug-in for HVPro, already using it!

Your referring i assume to hv custom lighting control.....

I was referring to xPL .......

my interest is rather late in this posting but many thanks for the write up and details. You have done magnificent work and very clean. I can't understand your budget of $700 as this sounds so inexpensive to get the results you have gotten?!? Am i to understand this correctly?

Again, great work! And considering it's being over a year; what differences/improvements have you seen in the summer and winter?
Hi AD - no problem, I'm glad people are still reading it! I am very very happy with my setup... and continue to expand it regularly. I don't remember the $700 budget comment, but I know I spent more than that. HVPro is about $900 I think... plus security, IR, AV, HVAC, UPB...

Some things I've added since this writeup:
- many more UPB switches. Almost all the commonly used lights are now UPB controlled. Besides scenes, verifying they are off when away or asleep, they also randomly turn on and off while we're gone to look like we're home.
- UPB outlets. Lots of little nuisance things are controlled via UPB - stuff like a backlight for my theater TV, the rear subwoofer in the theater (only comes on with DVDs), etc. Also, all our christmas lights are tied to UPB now so it's ultra easy to turn on/off all the christmas lights.
- Outdoor motion sensors. If there is motion around the house, or doors open at night, turn on outside lights
- Voice announcements - announce regular appointments (garbage night, etc). Kids love it because it tells them "10 minutes before bus", 5 min, and 3 min. Helps everyone stay on track.
- Touchscreen interface - I have a touchscreen mounted to the kitchen wall that can control everything. It's running HVXL (Homevision software) and lets me do anything I want... very very cool.
- AV monitoring - I can tell when every tv or audio device is turned on and off. I can remotely control them (so I can turn off the kids basement TV from our bedroom if I want).
- Added a UPB 8 button controller to our master bedroom. This is using various links to control all sorts of stuff including non-UPB devices (so i can turn on/off our alarm system via UPB... cool!)

As for utility bills - my total utility bill last year went down $120 from the previous year just through better optimzation of HVAC and electricity. And the year before I my HVAC and electricity was automated... but I continually refined how it worked and saved even more!

I should go back and update my cocoon document. I've done more than I realized! and I'm sure I'm missing some!

Feel free to ask any questions. It's a great hobby... my HVAC guy was over a few weeks ago for routine checkup and he spent over an hour extra wanting to go through how I did all this. He was amazed... commenting that he's seen lots of automated houses but nothing as tightly integrated as this :rolleyes:
Do you still recommend that little yellow punchdown tool for stripping cat5 wire? I don't see exactly how it is supposed to do that, but you seem to swear by it.

I've got a ton of cat5 and cat6 to strip, so I'm looking for something good...and that's a good price point.
I do... it's fast and easy (and cheap!)

The blade area does a great job of cutting outer sheathing without cutting internal wires (used to be a big problem of mine), and it works great as a punch-down tool.

To strip the Cat 5 wiring, you just slide the end of the wire into the blade area, lightly press on the outer piece of plastic, and swing it around the wire once. Then just pull off the cut sheathing. Works great for 14-4 speaker wires too (just finished installing some in-walls and used it last weekend).

It won't strip the tiny wires inside the shealth - but there are other tools to do that (and for punch downs you don't strip them anyways).

Hope that helps
Those strippers work well once you have the depth set. An important tool to get is the punch down tool that also cuts off the excess wire rather than the kind that just push the wire into the jaw. This makes the job look really neat. I'll get pictures later.
"Labels - I use simple peel/stick labels that I run through my printer."

How have the Avery labels held up over the last couple years? I am using them on my wiring, but I wonder if they will fall off eventually. I have a package of clear heat shrink I'd like to use over my laser labels, but I haven't come across the right carton after the move to the new house.
So far so good :lol: I wrap them tightly around the wire so they are sticking to themselves. If I made a "flag" out of it (1 wrap, with long ends) - didn't last at all.
Great post and project. Thanks it has helped me a lot. Couple of questions though...

What is your criteria for a receiver to use in your audio system? Heat, Watts, etc???

Have you ever wished that you can see what song is playing in a room? And choose what to play from that room? My original idea was to have it so that my children can see whats playing or choose what to play from their bedroom. But as I have been looking at it your way seems much more in line with my budget. Any thing you would change with your audio?

Thanks again for your post.

glad it helped. I really need to update it - I've added quite a bit more since I first wrote this.

Regarding amplifiers, I really didn't have a criteria. :eek: They are just playing 2 channel music, usually to in-wall speakers (good speakers, but still not "critical listening" speakers). So I bought amps that have some muscle (I think my minimum is usually ~80 watt/channel but this is really misleading too), could be controlled via IR, and that's about it. I think I usually pay around $125 or so for an amp... minimal investment and they work fine.

Regarding seeing the music details - I really haven't run into this as a problem. I have a touchscreen and several PCs around and could easily display the music, but so far my wife hasn't asked me to so I haven't bothered (I have enough other projects to keep me busy <_< ). I've made it easy to select various music (JRiver has smartlists which allow you to create "on-the-fly" playlists so I have tons of them; and XM satellite through DirecTV) by using my touchscreen or any remote in the house (will turn on that zone to that source). My music server is in the closet off my office so it's easy for me to go in there and work on the music if I need to.

Anything I'd change about the audio... not really. I think I'd add 1 more zone for my upstairs garage. It's rare I use it, but sometimes I clean my car up there so it would be nice to have. I could do it at any time... it's just low on the list :) I've been very happy with the HTD in-wall speakers and the sound. My wife likes the flexibility and ease of use. I like how it works... very reliable, no issues, and sounds really good :)

<edit: I do have 1 thing on my to-do list for this I forgot about... I want the ability to play a few specific albums. We usually listen to music on random, but there are some albums that I just want access to (live albums, Pink Floyd, etc). It's easy to do, I just haven't done it yet >