CQC Version 1.6 Released

Dean Roddey

Senior Member
Charmed Quark Systems, Ltd is proud to announce the 1.6 release of CQC (the Charmed Quark Controller), its software-based control and automation system.

Charmed Quark System's automation products provide robust, flexible, and cost effective control of lighting, HVAC, security, home theater, media data, and other systems. It is available in various configurations, which will scale to meet your needs, whether large or small, open or secure, a single room or the whole home. Build your own hardware, or use our pre-built systems. Do it yourself, take advantage of our reasonable consulting and customization services, or pair up with a third party integrator, whatever fits your needs and budget.

What's New Overview

The list of major features for 1.6 is not long, but some of them are very important and greatly extend CQC's automation capabilities.
  • Sony DVD Changer. 1.6 introduces significant new features in the media management area, most importantly support for the Sony 777ES serially controlled DVD changers, and a 'changer manager' driver that allows you to treat multiple Sony changers as a single device. I conjunction with a tool like DVD Profiler (support for which was introduced in 1.5), you can browse your DVDs and invoke them for playback on your changers, and do transport control over the changer.
  • Rad-IO Support. The Rad-IO system is an inexpensive way to provide up to 8 small LCD touch panels from a single computer. The CQC Interface Viewer has been updated to support this system. You can invoke up to 8 instances of it, placing each one into a slot 1 to 8, which makes it show up on the Rad-IO panel for that slot. You then have multiple independent touch panels over Cat5 for a very reasonable price.
  • New/Improved Drivers. New drivers are available for Sony 777ES changers, Rain8 irrigation controller, Russound CAV6 multi-zone audio controllers, Hitachi PD5000/PD7000 plasmas, DVDO VP30 video processor, Polk XM radio receivers, and the Alcohol ISO mounting application. And a new generic application control driver is available that allows you to do simple control over applications without the need for an application control driver specific to that application. The Zoom Player driver has been expanded as well to include more features, particularly to support video playback and movie related metadata.
Media Features

CQC now controls Sony 777ES changers, so it can support on-disc music and movies via one or more external changers, a la the Escient Fireball. You can use a single changer, or you can use multiple changers with a 'changer manager' driver that sits in front of them and makes them all look like a single device to CQC. This makes it very easy to create a system that can handle 400, 800, 1200, etc... DVDs without any special logic to deal with their bring spread out over multiple changers. Of course, if you want to have on-disc video content we can handle that as well, though we cannot provide any direct support for ripping DVDs for legal reasons.

And, since CQC is an automation system, it can seamlessly integrate your media control with control over the hardware in your theater. So you can integrate selection of sources, projector settings, masking systems, and so forth with your selection of sources or different format media, all via the same system.

The next release will include our own CD ripping and metadata retrieval for CD and DVD content, at which time we will have very much the same functionality as an Escient Fireball, plus an automation system, for far less than you'd pay for an Escient and Crestron system.

Rad-IO Touch Screens

CQC now supports the Rad-IO system, so you can have up to 8 cost effective touch screens driven by CQC, over a single Cat-5 connection. This allows CQC to provide, for instance, an 8 zone system where you can control lights, HVAC, and media in each zone from a wall mounted touch screen in that zone, for far less than you would normally have to pay for such systems, while keeping a centralized system with one point of access and maintenance.

Give it a Whirl

The product is available in a 30 day unencumbered form, so you can use it to it's fullest extent during that time, in order to see if it works for you. If you decide to buy, you can just license your existing installation, so that you won't have any interruption of your work done during the trial period. To download the installer, click the Try/Buy tab of the main web site menu, or the Try It button in the upper right hand corner.

Then go to the Learn tab of the new web site, and select the Quick Tutorial link, which will talk you through the whole process. You might want to go through the Using CQC section (also under Learn) first, but if you are hands on person you can just dive right in and come back to the Using section later.

Our license is a site license, and all our device drivers are part of the package. So there's just one base package and a few optional packages to choose from. You can then run the client services on any other devices in your home network that you choose.

* There are two versions of the CQC product, a DIY version and a professionally installed version. The DIY version is available for purchase on the web site, and at a very reasonable price, in an 'as is' format, with best effort support provided purely through the CQC support forum.
We now have an Omni Pro II driver that uses the ethernet connection. This is a new driver, that's not in the current official release, and it's a C++ driver instead of CML (it's a little too complex for CML because of all the encryption stuff) so I can't post it as a driver pack. But i have a side build that is basically the 1.6.5 release plus a couple of small changes and this driver, which I can make available to anyone who wants to try this driver out.
Based on feedback I've done another cut of the new Omni Pro II driver, if anyone is interested in trying it out. I initially set up the driver so that it queried the named items from the Omni and used that to decide what it should be interested in. But that didn't work out so well. The Omni's naming stuff is pretty loose and allows for duplicate names and use of lots of punctuation and whatnot. So instead it now just provides a client side driver interface to tell the driver what you want it to monitor/control in the Omni. This works a lot better and if you change a name in the Omni the driver won't be affected.

I also added support for a new broadcast event, a 'user action', that is specific for things like the Omni macro buttons, so that a driver can send out an event in response to being told by a device that some button has been been pressed. Most events go out because of a changer in a driver field, but in the case of buttons they often have no associated field and the driver just wants to spit out an event so that the user can configure an action in response to that button.