CQC Version 1.3.10 Released

Dean Roddey

Senior Member
Charmed Quark Software is proud to announce the 1.3.10 release of CQC (the Charmed Quark Controller), its software based control and automation system. CQC is the brains that supplement the brawn of your PC network, to create a powerful, secure, network distributed, highly visual, and highly robust system for management of hardware devices and software applications. With the addition of the needed ports (IR, serial, contact, etc...) to a general purpose PC, CQC can provide you with control and automation services on par with far more expensive traditional automation systems. Combined with its strong home theater front end services, which make excellent use of the strengths of PC graphics, CQC is a one stop shopping system that often requires the manual integration of three or more packages in competing products. CQC supports the Windows XP, Windows 2000 and Windows Server family of operating systems, with others coming.

Though there are no major new system features in this release, it contains numerous improvements which together add up to a substantial increase in CQC's capabilities. In particular, this release significantly improves CQC's graphics capabilities, and adds support for two important lighting systems.

In the remainder of this document some screen shots will be provided. These are of the interfaces created for current CQC demo systems. Please note that there is nothing, visually or functionality, about these images that is intrinsic to CQC. They were created using the CQC interface designer, using arbitrary images chosen for their asethetics and the functionality provided is purely a matter of design, so they are not 'skins' providing alternate looks for a fixed set of functionality, nor are you in any way limited to a particular visual style. they are pretty significantly reduced in size and quality in order to avoid download overhead

Also note that the example interfaces displayed here use a scheme commonly employed in CQC, which is to have a single main interface, and to have a set of buttons that load up various smaller interfaces into a central area. All the buttons in the Options section to the right load up 'overlays', which are just smaller interfaces, into the central area of the main image. This both saves time by allowing you to provide common functionality once, and allows for more flexibility in reuse of sets of overlays that provide access to common types of functionality

What's New Overview

This section will briefly introduce the major new features in this version, some of which will be discussed in more detail later in this document.
  • Interface Editor Improvements. As in the 1.3.5 and 1.3.6 releases, the interface editor got a considerable number of improvements, mostly in the area of making it a faster tool for power users, such as adding a nice set of hot keys to do common operations, and a graphical action palette for common operations without having to actually bring up each individual widget's attributes dialog. There are also some very nice improvements in the image handling capabilities that allow you to create much slicker looking buttons, and offset the positions of individual images in a widget. You can also visually display the snap grid for easier alignment, and new alignment options are available.
  • New Lighting Systems. This version introduces both Z-Wave and C-Bus drivers, both of which are important lighting control systems. Previously CQC had only supported X-10 (very low end) and RadioRA (fairly high end, read expensive.) The Z-Wave driver allows CQC to support a moderately priced wireless lighting system, and the C-Bus driver allows CQC to meet the needs of many users in Australia, South Africa, and Europe.
  • Denon Universal DVD driver. A new Denon DVD driver now supports the 2900, 3800, 3901, 5900, and 9000 models. This allows CQC to support a range of serially controllable DVD players at various price points to meet different needs
  • Interface, Image, and Macro Packages. Previously, CQC could only import/export device drivers, and then only Charmed Quark could do this. This version introduces the ability to import and export images, user interface templates, and macros, in addition to device drivers. This is very important for a couple reasons. One is that it allows users to easily exchange these things among themselves. But it also allows Charmed Quark to create libraries of such items (we cannot ship everything in the downloadable release for size reasons), that you can download and import into your system. This will very much help us provide much more pre-fab functionality for our users.
  • Many New Interface Images. Charmed Quark is now starting to build up a very nice library of original images that we are shipping with this version (and some which will show up on the web site for download.) These will make it far easier for users to create attractive user interfaces. And it will make it far easier for Charmed Quark to create nice pre-fab interfaces for download, because these can draw on a library of standard images that ship with the product. We will continue to expand this graphics library.
  • Sunrise/Sunset Support. The scheduled events server now supports sunrise and sunset as scheduling options. The first time you create a new scheduled event of one of these types, you will be asked to provide your latitude and longitude, which CQC will use to determine sunrise and sunset in your area. You can also indicate up to an hour offset before or after the actual calculated sunrise or sunset time.
  • HID USB Support in CML. The CML language now provides support for accessing HID type USB devices, so third parties can write drivers for such devices. Previously only Charmed Quark could write such drivers.
  • XML Gateway Improvements. The XML Gateway interface to CQC has been significantly improved to support access to interfaces and images, so that third party clients can display CQC user interfaces.
  • Various Fixes. There are also various small fixes and improvements that, though not life altering individually, really improve the feel of the product.

Click here for a full sized version

New Images

Many new original images have been created for this release, so you can now create very slick user interfaces using only images that ship with the product. You can always import any images you want to use, but it's no longer required in order to have a broad selection of buttons, LEDs, button bars, panels, and so forth.

Charmed Quark will continue to create more original images in each successive release, so that we can support many different visual styles.

User Interface Improvements

Significant work was done on the user interface system in this release, mostly in the area of improving the speed with which you can create and modify interfaces.

Action Palette
There is now an action palette that lets you apply attribute changes to all selected widgets quickly, without having to go through the widget's attributes dialog. These types of global attribute application features allow you to very quickly modify the look and feel of an interface.


The action palette also supports various types of alignment features, so that you can quickly and accurately align and spread out widgets. You can also now make the snap grid visible if you find that a useful aid to alignment.

Image Control Improvements
The interface editor also has a couple of small but very important improvements that allow you to create much slicker user buttons and interaction effects. The most important is that buttons now support an 'overlay' image, which can be overlayed over whichever base image is being displayed (pressed, unpressed, or focus), so that Charmed Quark only has to provide sets of button blanks and you can layer any images or symbols over them you want.

You can also now adjust the relative position of each of the images. Combined with the overlay image support, you can now create effects like these, quite easily:


These all use the same button blank, and just overlay a different image over it, and adjust the overlayed image over to the left.

You can also create various types of focus and pressed button effects, by using the overlay image in conjunction with the focus/pressed image support, such as these:


Hot Keys
The editor now supports a set of hot keys that allow you to adjust vertical/horizontal font alignment, transparency, font size, border, underline, shadow, and other attributes of all selected widgets. Power users can really put these hot keys to use and very quickly adjust the look and feel of an interface.

Drivers and Driver Support

This release includes some important new device drivers, and expanded capabilities for third parties wanting to write CQC device drivers.

Lighting Systems
This release introduces support for both the C-Bus and Z-Wave lighting systems. Until now, CQC had supported only X-10 at the lower end and RadioRA, a fairly high end system. Z-Wave now allows us to support a reasonably priced wireless lighting system. And C-Bus support allows us to meet the needs of users in Australia, South Africa, and Europe, where C-Bus is a widely used standard.

USB-HID Support in CML
CQC's object oriented macro language, CML, now provides a USB-HID runtime class, so third parties can now create device drivers for HID type USB devices, whereas Charmed Quark had to do those device drivers previously.

What's Available

CQC consists of a 'base package' and a number of optional packages. The base package provides all that most folks will need, though in some cases they might want to pick up one or two optional packages. If you need them all, there is a discount for buying a full system with all options.

The base package provides the following broad features:
  • Network distributed front and back end control architecture
  • User drawn interface development and deployment tools
  • IR control
  • Serial, socket, USB, and X-10 device control
  • Macro development and deployment tools
  • Device driver development and deployment tools (what might be called 'plug ins' in some systems)
  • Security and user management
  • All available device drivers are included in the base package.
The optional packages available as of version 1.3.10 are:
  • Scheduled Events Server. Allows you to schedule events to occur at regular intervals, particular times of the day, particular days of the week, etc...
  • Application Control. If you want to control other applications as though they were devices, then you need to get the application control system. It allows applications to be managed via standard CQC device drivers, so that they integrate cleanly into the CQC system (within the natural limits imposed by the fact that applications are often not designed to be controlled.)
  • XLM Gateway Server. Provides a simple XML over Sockets interface into the CQC system, to support third party clients.
Other optional packages will be made available over time. The purpose of structuring the system in this way is to allow the core functionality cost to be kept reasonable, and to only ask you to pay for those less common features that you really need, and to keep system requirements down where that is an issue.


Give it a Try

CQC is available for use in trial mode for 30 days, without any encumberances. So you can fully evaluate it for a month without commitment. If you decide to buy at any time within the trial period, you can convert your existing trial system into a fully licensed system without any interruptions.

CQC is also safe to try. It does not install any system files, or modify your configuration in any way except to create some start menu items and to create a small registry entry. It also creates a service, but all of the files that service uses are within the CQC directory. So if you decide not to commit, just use the uninstaller and it can be completely removed without any danger of destabilization of your system.

So feel free to give it a try and see if suits your needs. CQC provides a lot of functionality, all under one roof, where it can be managed and configured as a whole, and where the pieces are designed from day one to work together seamlessly and will continue to do so into the future. You don't have to master multiple systems and tie them together yourself, and hope that they do not diverge at some point, leaving you in the lurch, nor do you have to worry about the security of multiple systems not designed to provide comprehensive built in, user based security.

CQC can adapt to scenarios from a dedicated and completely locked down, kiosk mode system, up to a "PC based and not ashamed of it" full home network in which every machine is a CQC node, so it is applicable to many sorts of control system topologies and usage patterns, and can change easily over time because of the flexible nature of software based systems.

CQC is licensed on a network basis. So the price is basically for a license to run the 'master server' on one machine. You can then run the other client and server components on other machines in your network as desired. So the price compared to some other options is more competative than it might seem once you move off a single machine configuration.

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact us at [email protected], or you can register on the CQC support forums and join the growing community of CQC users, many of whom can provide you with help and practical experience.
Since other people have posted in that thread, I can't delete it. But there is no problem with starting a new thread for a new major version, you can always post a message in that thread pointing to this thread for more updates.
A new CQC version 1.3.11 has been posted to the web site. This is a patch release, so it doesn't have any major features. It just fixes some bugs that weren't caught in the 1.3.10 beta testing.

The most important fixes in this release are:
  • Sunrise Scheduled Events. Sunrise scheduled events were being scheduled at sunset instead.
  • Denon DVD Player Driver. The new Denon Universal DVD driver (for the 2901, 3800, 3910, 5900, 9000 models) wasn't dealing with the value returned for the DVD title/chapter when the player is not in DVD mode.
  • Driver Packaging. The driver packaging from the PDL test harness wouldn't work if the base part of the manifest and protocol files were the same. And the protocol file was being imported without putting the file extension back onto it, making it unrecognizable as a protocol file.
  • Purchase Button. Purchase button on registration dialog still pointed to the old purchase page, but the web site has been changed and that page isn't valid anymore.
  • USB-UIRT Driver. The UIRT driver doesn't unload the UIRT DLL when the driver itself is unloaded. So that DLL stays resident and CQCServer won't see a new UIRT DLL even if you install another driver (unless you cycle CQCServer.)
  • IR Device Model Category. The import and export of device models weren't agreeing on the format of the category name, and therefore the category would not be correct after an import.
  • Inc/Dec Buttons. The Inc/Dec button interface widget stopped accepting Boolean and string field targets.
    Multi-Widget Cut/Paste. When multiple widgets were copied/cut and then pasted, the pasted widgets weren't retaining their original positions relative to each other.
The new features in this release are:
  • Parasound 7100 Driver. A new driver is available for the Parasound 7100 A/V processor, which replaces the previous Halo series.
We are finally starting to get some new user galleries up. I put up the first one today, and there should be another in a couple more days, and then some others following that as soon as possible.
I cannot afford or justify a $24,000 projector. But I would like to see Insteon support (the SDK is only $99) and Elk M1G support (free protocol). Other things to consider are UPB and the WGL W800RF32.
I have an Elk here now, and will be getting to the driver as soon as I can. I spent a few hours the other day getting it physically put together.

The Insteon, I'm probably going to let cook a bit before jumping in on it. It's way too new, IMHO, to put too much time into right now. They offered me a development system, but they were short on them and asked if I was willing to wait and I told them yes. After some folks have had some time to beat on it and they fix the initial issues and whatnot, I'll take another look at it.
No, we are going to be providing remote access via the .Net version of our interface viewer, which I'll be posting the first teaser pics from soon, BTW. It only requires a single port to be exposed and it provides an encrypted session option. It'll also be used for accessing CQC on PPCs, smart phones, and other .Net enabled devices, which means that you'll be able to use the same designed interfaces for remote viewing as you use for local viewing, though you might make some very light ones for low bandwidth connections.

From our perspective, if were were going to provide a web server, we'd want to provide a dedicated one with very little setup or web server experience required.
But if someone wanted to get creative, they could create a VB.Net or Perl wrapper around the same interface that the .Net interface viewer uses, which is a simple XML over Sockets interface, and then access CQC services from within IIS or Apache respectively. But we have not done that so far.
I updated the main web page, to make it a bit slicker, and cleaner looking, and to emphasize a little more the graphics capabilities of the product, which is the only aspect I can really make obvious in a single glance. I used a set of all different example user interfaces, which will also hopefully make it clear that it doesn't have any sort of fixed look and that you can create any sort of look.
Charmed Quark Systems has announced the upcoming availability of its .Net Interface Viewer, a version of the CQC graphical interface viewer utility based on the Microsoft .Net Framework. This new version of the interface viewer allows CQC's graphical interfaces to be deployed on smaller devices, such as PocketPCs, Smart Phones, and other handheld tablet devices.


The .Net Viewer will be available in beta form within the upcoming CQC 1.4 beta time frame. It will become available for general use after the 1.4 CQC release. It will be a new optional component, purchased separately from the core CQC components. It will require the XML Gateway optional component, since it accesses the CQC system via the XML Gateway Server.

This new interface viewer displays standard CQC graphical interfaces, created with the same CQC Interface Designer tool that is used to create all CQC interfaces. It provides full two way control, just as the standard interface viewer does. Since CQC is fully network distributed, access is available anywhere within your wired or wireless network.

It only requires a single IP port to be available on the CQC host providing XML Gateway access, so it will also be an excellent tool for accessing you CQC system remotely via your laptop from the road. It fully supports CQC's security system, and supports encrypted sessions to the XML Gateway, so it will not compromise the security of your CQC automation solution.


The .Net Viewer option will have a price of $35. It will be made available as a free upgrade to all existing CQC customers who have purchased a full system package, or a base package plus XML Gateway option. Others will be able to purchase the new option separately when it becomes available (which will also require a purchase of the XML Gateway if that component is not already licensed.)

As an incentive, Charmed Quark will provide a free .Net Viewer license to new customers who buy a full CQC system license between now and the official release of the new viewer option. Since the full system license already includes a discount, this offer will provide a substantial savings.

* Note that the sample interfaces displayed here are purely arbitrary, created with the CQC Interface Designer. Your own interfaces can have any look and feel you want them to have
I'm going to be doing a live chat on http://www.homeautomationweb.com/news/ this coming wednesday at 6pm PST (9pm EST), discussing CQC and answering any questions folks might have. So drop by if you are interested and want to ask about CQC in a little more interactive way than the usual forum thread scheme.